Falling for someone I’ve never met

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Meredith: Do you believe it's possible to fall in love with someone via e-mail/phone? I have a co-worker who lives in another part of the country (several time zones away). We've never actually met, but we e-mail and instant message constantly throughout the day, even after work hours and on weekends. We've talked on the phone a number of times as well. What started out as playful and mainly work-related banter has progressed into discussions about life, love, family issues, health issues, etc. I find myself thinking about this person constantly and am seriously considering relocating to be closer. Am I crazy? Could this possibly be the beginning of a real relationship or am I just infatuated? Should I reveal my feelings first and see if they are reciprocated? I always thought people in this situation were fooling themselves, but now that I find myself in this situation I'm confused and don't know what to think. Please help!

– Confused online, South Boston

It's possible to develop feelings for someone over the phone and in writing, but you can't really fall for them until you know what it's like to be around them.

It's also possible to fool yourself about someone who's far away. If you never actually see the person, you can dream up how they sound, smell, and behave. You can imagine them as an ideal partner and set yourself up for serious disappointment.

That's why you have to tell this person that you want to visit them, and then make the trip as soon as possible (by the end of January). Offer to stay in a hotel so that there's no pressure. If you go out there and find that your feelings are legit, confess and discuss.

This person chats with you on the weekends and has become a part of your after-hours routine. A visit is the next logical step. Just do it soon so that you can end the dreaming. And if this work friend declines a visit, find someone new to call on the weekends. You're ready for something real.

Readers? Are these feelings legit? Is it possible that the work friend doesn't want more? Should the letter writer be contemplating a move? Is there any way for the letter writer to make the trip less intimidating? Ever fallen for someone you've never met? Discuss.

– Meredith