Spectacular answer


Would love a follow up to this one.


At the very least, I hope he learned to spell "since".


The fact that he is even entertaining seeing the Internet girl makes me question how great his current relationship actually is. I think it's wrong to make up a bogus "going to see an old friend" story. The girlfriend will know something is up. Women KNOW things. We're born with built-in BS detectors. What if she wants to come along? You're just asking for a bumpy ride down shite creek IMO


Background: we're all assuming you've Skyped with this young lovely and you know for 110% fact she's as advertised. We've all seen Catfished and trust you have too.

If you're in an awesome situation, why mess with that? What could she possibly offer that you don't have now, with someone you've spent significant time with.. and live close to?

Finally, if you're gonna lie, make it a lot better than "an old friend". Either go with Family or Work.


It sounds like relationships don't come easy for this person. Why on Earth would they risk ruining what they've got for basically a pen pal? Also, I'm guessing by the fact that LW considers chatting a relationship, "something happening" is not inevitable, no matter what they discussed, without hours of drinking, at which point you've made the conscience decision to torpedo your (then) current relationship.


My advice to 2009!guy is: strongly consider breaking up with your girlfriend before your little jaunt, rather than after. Not so much moralizing as, now that you know your own "price" to cheat and drop her, take the opportunity to ask whether you're as fully satisfied as you tell yourself.

I know, you say it's a high high price because this is the internet fling of your life, I get that feeling, but I'm old to tell you it's a feeling rather than a unique moment in your life. Can I say gently, you haven't met this person much less lived with them -- what you have here has a large component of imagination.

When your own imagination is leading you out of your relationship, it's usually time to listen. As kindly as you can.


(I don't want to sound like full "the internet isn't real." It is real, or can be assuming honesty, but it's not the same real that physically meeting is. You can online-love someone for years and have no idea whether you can enjoy a conversation or a meal with them, much less have good sex or share a living space.)


This is easy.

Don't meet the 'ex' as long as you are in a relationship.
When/If you are out of the current and in-between relationships look her up if you still want to.

Damn. That was easy.


1.) This is from 2009. He might be catfished. This is before webcams were totally ubiquitous and the LW doesn't sound like the brightest bulb.

2.) I'm glad to see Dan give tacit approval to low-level cheating. Yeah he's playing with fire by going to Nevada but as long as he knows that and is willing to deal with the consequences (e.g. break up with/tell the real GF if something happens with the "ex") then I think this is a case where you don't invite trouble.

It reminds me of my "once exception to cheating". If a person continues dating their high school significant other when going off to separate colleges and then meets someone at a party and makes out with them, that's not cheating. That's realizing that high school is over. As long as you break up with the HS person relatively quickly (no leading someone on), you're totally fine. That's just being young.


This does get complicated by the length of the current relationship. If I do my math right its 3.5 years ago they met, so 2.5 years ago that he dated the catfish and then they broke up 2.25 years ago and then he started dating the current GF two years ago. That's a decently long relationship with his current boo. I'll contradict myself from two minutes ago and say that he may want to sit down for a few weeks and think if he's maybe using Ms. Catfish to express not wanting to be in the relationship he's in. People who claim they "could not be happier" but then get obsessed with closure on a three month relationship are likely more confused than they are letting on. Once he thinks about it, he can decide if its better to see what happens and be committed to being honest if something does happen or just preemptively break up.

Obligatory Personal Story: I dated a woman for six months or so in college who moved to New York City after graduation. Amicable breakup, mutual friends, kept in touch casually. I started dating someone a few years later and had been dating them three months when I went to NYC to visit friends and get drunk in NYC bars. Before I left, I broke up with the local person I'd been dating three months. There were some good reasons for this (some issues with her having a less-than-committed breakup with an ex and issues with friends and other normal 22 year old relationship problems) but a big part was I knew there was a chance I'd fall back in with NYC ex and didn't want to feel guilty if something happened. Turns out that while we hung out in NYC, nothing happened beyond some wistful reminiscing. I went back home and pretty quickly started dating the local woman again, which lasted another three months before breaking up for other reasons.

I never felt bad about that decision. It was a bit deceptive but it was what I needed to figure things out and not feel like a terrible person. I knew I wasn't committed enough to talk it out with the home ladyfriend and also knew that drinking in NYC bars meant anything could happen. I did what I had to so that I could feel like a decent person. I will add that I'm not sure how honest I would've been if I had hooked up in NYC. I think that I probably would've gotten an STD test and then kept it to myself. Three somewhat chaotic months seems like a place where you can let things be and not rock the boat when its only going to hurt the other person. We were on a break! I do think that'd be kind of dirty to do to a 2 year relationship like the LW. You can't play it as loose in that because actual cemented feelings are involved and there are commitments involved.

Also, just trying to write up that story made me glad I'm not dating at 22 anymore. God that stage was all so confusing.


You'd like to have your cake and eat it too... join the club! Ethically this is an easy one. Don't be taking a trip to hook up with someone while you have a significant other. Duh. That said, you're young, and you'll always regret it if you don't see if you have chemistry.

As you get older, you meet people, and you know you could have something with them if things were different in both of your lives, but things aren't different and so... it goes nowhere. This internet thing? It's probably that. But you're young, you have no context, and you're feeling all these things for the first time. So follow Dan's advice and try not to be too much of a dick about things to the others involved in this story. Good luck!


Oh yeah, closure is internal, not external. The earlier you learn that lesson, the less wreckage you'll leave in your wake, and the happier you'll be.


I'm with @9.
Tell the online ex that you are in a relationship, and that that precludes your meeting or even having an online relationship with her.


Though I think Dan's answer might be the best, I'd add to it that it's likely he'll eventually reveal who he went to meet regardless of the results- even if they don't hook up. Unless the girlfriend is the sort who is busy with her own life and doesn't bat an eye at him flying out of town to meet a friend (in which case, win) then she is probably going to ask who this friend is. Not even in a jealous way, just "hey who's this friend you are close enough to to fly out of town to meet?" I mean, as we get older, we know that people have lifetimes of friends, but when you are 20, you assume you know everyone that person knows. So unless the girlfriend is not a curious sort, it means he's going to have to lie about this, and the lie might be on-going and then what?

I don't know. I suggest maybe thinking through it a little more clearly. Let's say you do have sex with internet girl. Let's say the sex is even decent. Already this is a stretch- that you will have any in-person chemistry, that you will have great sex despite your inexperience and lack of familiarity with one another, etc. Then what? You go home and tell your current girlfriend and she breaks up with you and then what? You fly several times a year to meet internet girl? You move across the country? You start dating again, meet someone else, end up in the same situation later?

I just don't know. If you can't let it go, Dan is right- you are young and there's no reason to tie yourself down at this time in your life. If you really gotta know, I guess you gotta go. I'd say work hard on developing a good plausible lie that you are going to tell your current girlfriend that won't come back to bite you in the ass in a few weeks. And if you have sex with internet girl, then you really do have to tell your girlfriend about it, so...

Finally I hope someone comes on to give this kid a safety talk. Make sure someone knows where you are, have some sort of proof that this woman is who she is, etc. Screenshot of her drivers license? Is that too extreme?


You're 20. You're going to break up with the current girlfriend eventually. Meet the once-and-future-love while you have the chance. What's the worst that's going to happen, you end up with neither of them?


OP if you happen to see this, PLEASE tell us what happened.


Hey!!! Hey LW!!! It's been 10 fucking years, what happened!? I need to know the ending of this real-life circa 2009 Wes Anderson movie.

Dan, can you please email him or something? The people need to know.


You (were) TWENTY! Go see the exotic mystery blown-out-of-proportion, impossible to live up to your fantasy girl. No matter what happens(ed) it won’t (wouldn’t) be the last girl you’ll ever fuck or the last relationship you’ll ever have. EXPLORE while you’re young, date/fuck lots of different people and learn who fits best with you. Don’t try to make every girl you meet be THE ONE. As Spinal Tap would say, “Smell The Glove”!


Count me among the folks who'd love to see an update.

Also, on that thought, if I were in this guy's shoes and I felt like I absolutely needed to meet this girl, I wouldn't make a special trip just to do that. I'd try to find some convention or another event that's going on where we'd be able to meet up -- not for any pretense to BS the girlfriend, but so there's other things going on, things to do when hanging out together, alternate answers to the question of "So we got lunch/dinner, now what?" Also, so if there isn't any chemistry in person, you still get to do something interesting on the trip.


Ah, a rerun - so video chats etc were not a thing at the time.

What I would have done is tell Ms Nevada that they should stay internet friends only because he is now in a relationship, and when they inevitably break up (he's 20, so while perhaps not "inevitable" I would put the odds around 99%), if she is also single, THEN they can get together and see what happens. This is no different from any other bad timing scenario. There are friends I waited months or years to bang, until we were both single. I would love to know what he decided, too.


Skype definitely was a thing in 2009. I was using it to call family in New Zealand when I lived in Japan in 2005. Doesn't mean the LW had a powerful enough computer or Internet connection to use it, though. I'm with those who want Dan to email the LW to see what happened.


Larry @11, you're right. I glossed over the letter and thought he'd been dating the "current girlfriend" (not words one uses with something long-term, IMO) for three months. At 20, if they have been together for a year or more this is solid and not to be thrown away over a Ms What-Might-Have-Been. Do not risk the in-person relationship. File it in the fantasy bank. Yes, you're being selfish; this is probably only the first of the what-might-have-been's you'll encounter in your life. You can't have everything and everyone you connect with. Even if you're polyamorous, you can't always get what/whom you want. Hope he let this crush go.


I would have (or would have had) two further questions for the lw:

1) If you and your 'ex' 'click' in person, click chemically, could you (psychologically) have a fling with her and return to your current partner?;

2) Could you live with your gf leaving you for having sex with, or just seeing, this woman from your past?

I'm not sure whether I agree with the distinction that in-person sex is 'sex' and online sex is 'typing'. Aren't the chemicals in the brain the same?


I suggest that someone in WTDAME’s position should not visit a potential sex partner across the country. How ever long the current relationship has been going on or how ever long it lasts, tossing aside a solid relationship on a fantasy is a mistake. WTDAME has no idea about how he and this woman will click in-person. Chatting online or by phone is just different than being together, no matter how good the online connection. So in deciding what do to he needs to understand his current relationship is real life and Ms. Las Vegas is a fantasy partner.

Lying to his current girlfriend may seem like a workable option, but it is dishonest and unfair, and may not succeed anyway.

Moreover, the likelihood that Ms. Las Vegas is his soulmate are vanishingly small, and in a few years she will be a nice memory, but he won’t be wracked with doubt about having not gone to visit her at this time. And if it is really destiny, they will both be single in the future.


Another option: Girlfriend is probably young too and unlikely to only ever be attracted to WTDAME. If he really feels he has to find out what the sex is like -- presuming the chemistry does lead there -- just to end the torture of curiosity, he could try explaining the situation to Girlfriend and offering her a reciprocal one-time hall pass to have a fling with whoever she wants, now or at any point in the future. If the relationship does last, they could both look back on these flings as fond memories, and be grateful to each other for the opportunity to sow a few wild oats in their youth.


Before trying this, though, he should have a vague conversation to see how she feels about open relationships. From his letter, he feels she would dump him for asking, and he knows her better than we do.


Well, by the time I got to the end of the response I'd already wasted my precious fucking time writing this so might as bloody well paste it in even though I found out too late it's a rerun:

"My ex and I have discussed how if we were able to meet face-to-face, something will happen."

Sure it will; you'll find out whether or not you're attracted to each other.

"Hooking up seems like an inevitability."

Have you ever even seen this person? If "no", you're not only wrong, you're nuts.

@9 You're Welsome
"Don't meet the 'ex' as long as you are in a relationship. When/If you are out of the current and in-between relationships look her up if you still want to."

I was thinking the same thing. If the guy's set on monogamy, this isn't the time to be looking, the time the current relationship is over is.


What do y'all think of this nutty idea...

LW talks honestly to internet girl, tells her he's in a happy relationship, tells her he only wants to be friends. They never were more than friends anyway.

LW talks to his girlfriend, tells her he has what is basically a high tech pen pal, tells her she's his friend, they chat, nothing more.

Then as time goes on (not right away), LW saves up some money - he says he has the funds to take a trip himself now, so in a few months he could have enough for two people- and he says to the girlfriend, hey let's have a weekend vacation in Vegas.

While they are there, he says "hey I'm going to call my internet buddy and see if she wants to meet us for drinks." Low pressure, short, casual meeting, hello long time pen pal, nice to meet you in the flesh, here's my girlfriend, so nice you two finally get to meet one another, chit chat about life, bye bye now we've got a show to catch.

LW and internet girl get to take a look at one another in a low key way, they get to make their online friendship a real life friendship, they get to see if there is any potential chemistry. Life is long and all these people are kids, so who knows what happens. Sometime in the future, when he and girlfriend break up, maybe he and internet girl become sexual. Maybe they don't. Maybe they really are just buddies and he's made a new friend- you can't have enough of them. Or maybe they realize that in person, they don't really like each other, and it's awkward as fuck and they never talk again. Either, he doesn't spend his days wondering.

Or in a twist, maybe internet girl and girlfriend fall in love, run off into the black rock desert together, eating peyote under the apprenticeship of a mad sorcerer until the seas rise.


@29 EmmaLiz
Of course you propose an idea that isn't the least bit nutty; it's perfect. But that's the 'problem' with it, LW and Internet girl were too nutty for it, they thought "Hooking up seems like an inevitability"! Perhaps if Dan's reply knocked some sense into them, and they processed it a while to internalize it, the non-couple would then be mature enough to follow your perfect advice for who they would then be.


@29 My basic issue is that they clearly both want to be more than friends. The plain you detailed is like filling the keg up with black powder then careless tossing aside your cigarettes.

Dude should go for a visit. If the click, they click - come back home, break up with the GF, and proceed with the internet lover. If they don't click, then that question is settled. Would you, EmmaLiz, keep a torch for a guy who was dating someone else and then said "well if we break up I'll go for you"? I don't know if I've ever met a woman who was OK with being the 2nd-choice.


EmmaLiz @29: Very, very nutty. Can you imagine how furious you would be if your partner suggested what you thought was a romantic getaway, only to find out it was actually cover for his meeting someone he was considering cheating on you with/dumping you for? Nope nope nope. Wait until current relationship comes to a natural end, then pursue Ms Nevada if she is still single.


Curious @28, come now. If they had multiple hot and heavy cyber sessions, "inevitability" does not sound like an exaggeration. They are both young and horny and they strongly desire each other. I think he's wise to not delude himself that he could visit her and stay faithful to his girlfriend.


I dunno. It's a decade old letter and my plan involves burning man wizards, so I wasn't being entirely serious. But it's normal enough for people to introduce current lovers to old flames, at least in my experience, and also normal enough for young and single people to keep a few pots simmering at the same time. When you ask how would I feel- do you mean now as a person in a multi decades relationship with family and financial commitments? Or do you mean me, 20 year old with lots of casual dating? I think it was pretty normal to have people I found attractive and interesting and have us both acknowledge that things can't work out right now but we'll see in the future. I don't know if this is "keeping a torch".


@33 BiDanFan
" If they had multiple hot and heavy cyber sessions..."

Nothing in the letter said to me (or to Dan) that they ever did more than "typing". I don't see how typing can be extrapolated to "inevitability". For example, I really like /your/ typing, but I don't share the LW's delusions.


If LW actually made concrete plans to meet internet girl - booked time off work, bought tickets - I'm betting that internet girl suddenly was not available to meet in person. "Oh, gee, sorry, that's the week I have to be in China!"

If this girl actually wanted to meet him in real life, it would have happened back when they were "dating". What they've got going is a fun fantasy, and I bet she'll be very pissed off if he tries to make it real.


I'm okay with being the second fiddle, but I have low self esteem.


@36 Agony

Ordinarily I'd agree with you, but considering that they were high school teens back when they were "dating", I think it's less suspicious that they were never able to bring it offline.


Curious @35, it's not a delusion if "my ex and I have discussed how if we were able to meet face-to-face, something will happen." Each of them has said to the other, "I want to have sex with you." There is no assumption happening here. Okay, there's a slim chance that when they do meet, one of them will say "oh yuck, you never told me you were only 5'3" or "your breath is awful" but I think after multiple years of longing and a long and expensive journey, the odds either of them will say "actually, never mind" are tiny.

Agony @36: "If this girl actually wanted to meet him in real life, it would have happened back when they were "dating"." Did you miss that they were minors when they were "dating"? How many teenagers have the money and the parental permission to go visit an internet friend?


Okay, I admit I made a presumption that two horny teenagers who fancied themselves in love with each other, had access to the internet, and clearly still have sexual feelings for each other now had conversations that were less than chaste, which was not specified in the letter.


@39 BiDanFan
"...the odds either of them will say "actually, never mind" are tiny."

Wow, I think the odds that two people who've never met, who've only typed to each other, who for all we know haven't even seen each other's pictures, will actually both be attracted to each other in person are slim. But then I'm a guy, and we're well know to be exponentially more shallow than women, so perhaps this helps account for our wildly different perspectives on this. For which women deserve all the credit in the world!


How ‘bout this. LW talks to girlfriend, tells her he has a “penpal” who might be up for a threesome if they both go visit her. It’s long distance, so girlfriend might go for it as a fling with someone miles away who would be unlikely to threaten her like a girl down the street would.


I read the title as Should I finally meet my ex in PRISON. Totally disappointing.


@42~ Now THAT’S a letter I’d like to see here!


I’m with @BiDanFan, the reason WTDAME is struggling with this issue at all is because sex with someone he finds exciting is clearly part of the offer extended by Ms. Las Vegas to come visit. I do not doubt that sex was a significant part of their conversations, and now it is only a matter of them being in the same bed together.


Curious @41, this letter is from 2009, not 1989. The odds that two teenaged millennials never even exchanged photos, let alone video chatted, yet considered themselves "in a relationship" are absolute zero. And guys more shallow? Really? Guys will fuck anything that moves, especially guys that age. I can't see WTDAMF being so keen to have sex with Ms Nevada that he's pondering risking his best ever relationship, then getting there and deciding she has a few more pounds on her than she's said so he's not up for the sex. Really? My perspective on this is based solely on the fact that they are literally talking about meeting up and having sex. He will be horny enough to overlook any flaws, and she will have been socialised female and not want to disappoint him after a long journey. (And horny.) WTDAMF is correctly reading his non-ex's intentions.


Whoops, WTDAME.


@45 BiDanFan
I concede you're probably correct about the photos. Video chat in 2009 I'm far less sure.

I don't think it's sane to 'be in a relationship' with just photos. Video chat I /guess/ so (but sheesh).

Dan (and me after also reading Dan saying they merely "were typing") was probably too willing to believe the non-couple were utter idiots, whereas the the LW simply failed to establish otherwise. A thing I like about advice-column land is the frequency with which those seeking alms /are/ utter idiots. But you're right, not /always/, and quite possibly not this time.

I'll need to defer to you that "Guys will fuck anything that moves"; perhaps I was projecting.

"...socialised female and not want to disappoint him..."

I'll again need to defer to you. And add how sad that is. (Will she also feel compelled to fake an orgasm?)


I also think that the "hooking up being inevitable" is silly. Reads too much like an "it just happened" kind of absolving of responsibility. Surely WTDAME can decide to meet the "ex" to satisfly his curiosity and not end up in bed with her, because he does not want to cheat on his girlfriend?


Curious @47, isn't cybersex "just" typing? Whether or not there is video to go with it? Sure, "inevitable" reads as a bit melodramatic but that's what 20-year-olds are like, this woman is the mystical magical first love of his life and if they don't consummate the destiny of their lust they will regret it forever, etc. It just seems like they are both on the same page with wanting to bang each other. It's "inevitable" because they both want to do it. I think the idea of risking a relationship to meet an old flame, making a long and expensive journey, then NOT having sex sounds ridiculous. If they're going to go through all that effort to meet, they're going to satisfy their curiosity in all areas, are they not? If they don't intend to at least potentially fuck, why bother?


I mean, I can't imagine being 99% sure you want to have sex, like these two are, then getting there and discovering that yes you do want to have sex, and then not having it. That sounds like playing with fire to me and WTDAME is wise to foresee what's likely to happen, instead of just naively thinking he can go meet this woman he really wants to bang and resist that temptation.


I don't feel qualified to offer an opinion here. Though I'm a few years older than the LW, I've never dated, online or otherwise. I will, however, chime in and say that, even if they don't really "click" in person, they would still totally fuck. They are both young and horny, they have a pre-existing emotional connection, and they probably spent months/years talking -- sorry, "typing" -- in excruciating detail about what they would do to each other if they were there in the same room. It would be cute if it wasn't kind of stupid and morally problematic.


The reality will never live up to the fantasy, but they won't be able to get that through their thick young skulls until they actually try it.


For the record, my family was using Skype in 2009 on perfectly average computers. The laptop i got for high school in 2009 had a built-in webcam.


BiDan@49~ "...isn't cybersex "just" typing?..."
Could be a little Facetime mutual masturbation going on... or at least there SHOULD be...

Just put a guard over the keyboard...sticky keys suck!


...Actually I SHOULD have written, "StiCK y kE yS sUkkkkkkkkk"


Just realized in September it will have been 10 years since I started high school. I want to say that makes me feel old, but I know how ridiculous that sounds...


@49 BiDanFan
"Sure, 'inevitable' reads as a bit melodramatic but that's what 20-year-olds are like..."

That's true too, good point. I do admire your take that they aren't being crazy, and that would make sense to me if they video-chatted, which for all we know they had.

But I can't really blame Dan (and myself) for not inferring they had. Like I said I'm not that sure about video chat in 2009; the iPhone had only come out June 29, 2007, smartphones weren't yet ubiquitous in 2009 and was still rather modest. And the LW did use the phrase that this meeting would bring "...the excitement of actually seeing each other." (Didn't append "in person".)

And it's my observation that not just 20-year-olds, but many people, are extremely unrealistic.
(On this tangent, for example: I know tons of new parents who expressed to me genuine surprise and shock at how "hard" it is. But WTF did they think, how could it not be incredibly hard, to have a brand new human being 100% dependent upon them for taking care of it's needs. I co-parented a 2-year old for a couple years, and I wasn't the least bit surprised that doing so absorbed all my time. But I understand that things that drive people [such as wanting to have a baby, or to fuck] can obscure such realism.)


Go visit your "ex" and then get back to us on how it goes.


Curious, the most difficult two year old ever to coparent is the one that remains a two year old for a couple of years. Though I suppose at least in that case you get to avoid coparenting a three year old which is even harder in my opinion.

Seriously though, I find that it tends to work like this:

First few weeks w/newborn: OMG I had no idea how hard this would be.

5 mos - when baby starts to crawl around: Oh, this is hard, but it's not really THAT bad. What are all these parents complaining about!

When baby starts to crawl around - 2.5 years: Holy shit this is the hardest thing I've ever done and I don't know how I'm going to handle my life, but at least the child is interesting and what a wonder life is!

2.5-3.5: zombie parent in survival zone, mind either numbed or working in microseconds, now is the time people's marriages fall apart, the tedium of life, the frustrations, seem that they will never end

3.5-4.5: so stressed out and defeated that you don't even realize things might be getting better. if you have the misfortune of a second younger child, they aren't- you are just drowning

4.5-6: blinks eyes, looks around at life- who am I? I'm an individual person again. I do have a life. I can live.

6-12: New normal. New life, new person. Depending on how the relationships worked out and how the kid turned out, people can even be exceptionally happy here.

12-14: Who the fuck is this unappreciative devil spawn and why are they living under my roof?

14-18: A stranger lives among us. Sometimes they seem interesting.



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