I Fell In Love Online--But Here's What Happened When We Met In Person
I met a man online who lived on the other side of the country. We were technologically inseparable for two months before I flew out to spend a week exclusively in his company. In some respects, the week contained everything I imagined the relationship would be… but there’s also the reality of how meeting him actually turned out.
It wasn’t love at first Tweet, but the attraction our conversations and Google searching generated caught me off guard. I didn’t think it would go any further than an unrequited crush. I was wrong. Very wrong.
Here’s a word you’ll never read about in the more restrained online love stories – masturbation. I mean, how else are two people – separated by thousands of miles but who nevertheless share immeasurable bursts of affection and passion – supposed to connect with each other? I’ll be honest. Our first magical phone call? It was pretty awkward. Lots of pauses and throat-clearing. After about twenty minutes, he excused himself for dinner plans. Another one bites the dust, I figured.
But he surprised us both by calling me back later that night at two a.m. my time, initiating a pleasantly amiable conversation that morphed into phone sex which lasted until nearly five in the morning. Later that day, I woke up to a text message from him. “I love the sounds you make,” he wrote, and he wasn’t talking about my Martha Generic impersonation.
Like so many lusty online romances, masturbation was the glue that held our long-distance flirtatious bond together. I was supposed to be taking the summer off from sex and dating… yeah, that plan lasted all of five days before we met. At first, I rationalized my guilt away: It’s only phone sex! It’s only masturbating! But it was undeniably the most intimate contact I was allowing myself to share with another person during this self-induced bout of celibacy. And slowly, over weeks, he was learning more from me than just dirty talk.
We talked all of the time, it seemed, through every medium we could get our hands on: instant messages, text messages, Facebook, Twitter, Skype, cell phone calls, work phone calls. I told him my secrets, my worries, the mean things people said to me at work (“There’s a supermodel buried in there somewhere!”) and the kind words of encouragement from others that I refused to let sink into my damaged psyche. He told me things, too: his insecurities, his anxieties, stories about his failed marriage and his ex-girlfriends and the friends he suspected didn’t really have his best interests at heart (he was right about them). We let each other in and so much of everything inside us came gushing out.
I’ve heard sex does that to people when they’re in love.
We didn’t give our relationship – such that it was – any labels. He was on another coast, entangled in a messy open relationship and a previous arrangement with another woman who planned to visit him for a Sexy Times ™ week. But he and I both knew that we were becoming more than friends. We even had a song – Billie Holiday’s “Easy to Love.” It didn’t matter that we were nowhere near ready to use the loaded L-word. Later in August, I spent the majority of a free Death Cab for Cutie concert sending him text messages coded with meaning. I told him the song was and wasn’t about us, save a few careful lines.