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The Rule of 5 - How to Avoid the Virtual Sinkhole in Online Dating

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Kendal had been single for almost a year when she "met" Roger. She met him on Plenty of Fish. He seemed like a near perfect match. He was sweet and flirty but didn't come on too strong. He made her laugh. They obviously had a lot in common. He also travelled for work a lot.

Roger lived more than an hour from her, and with his work schedule, it seemed almost impossible to find a time to get together. That didn't stop them, though. After a couple of weeks, they were spending sometimes hours on the phone in the evenings. They texted on and off during the day. He always sent her a text first thing in the morning that started, "Hello, beautiful. Hope you have a good day.".

More than six weeks had passed before they scheduled an actual date. Kendal was so excited. She knew she was meeting her soulmate. However, about an hour before she was going to walk out the door to meet him she got a text saying his boss had asked him to stay late at work and he didn't want to keep her waiting. So, he'd need to reschedule.

Although she was devasted, she wasn't upset with him. Kendal didn't want to be demanding. She also knew how unpredictable his job was. Another six weeks passed before the topic of getting together even came up again. They continued to talk every day. They got closer and closer as time passed.

Fast forward another month. Kendal is in a relationship with Roger. Everyone knows she has a boyfriend. She talks about him all the time. She's never felt more connected to anyone. She loves waking up to his texts. They still haven't met. So, in an overtly romantic gesture, she drives the hour to where he lives and texts him from a restaurant in his neighborhood and invites him to meet her there. Roger does not respond. She calls. No answer.

Kendal doesn't hear from Roger for two days. When he texts her again, he acts like nothing even happened. At this point, Kendal decides to hire a relationship coach because things aren't going well with her imaginary boyfriend.

Now that might sound ridiculous to some people. However, other people are going to cringe a little because they can relate. A lot of people have found themselves someplace that looks a lot like that. It's more common than you might think.

Here's the thing. You cannot be in a relationship with someone you haven't met. That might seem obvious, but in a digital age, things can get confusing.

I firmly believe in the rule of fives. That means no more than five points of contact at any level of communication before you move up to the next level of communication. Don't spend weeks chatting through a website or texting. Don't exchange more than five phone calls before you schedule a date. If it hasn't happened by that time, it's probably not going to.

Virtual intimacy can feel very real, and it can be very deceptive. I've fallen prey to virtual intimacy myself, and it led me into the worst relationship I ever had. I'd imagined him to be someone he wasn't. By the time we met, more then six weeks in, I'd talked myself past his very obvious flaws.

He was an abusive alcoholic. I knew that before I ever actually met him. However, I'd convinced myself he was something he wasn't. It was easy when we weren't together to let my imagination create a man who didn't really exist.

Not everyone who delays meeting in person is trying to catfish you. Maybe they just aren't quite what they are trying to sell themselves to be. Maybe they are insecure. Maybe they simply don't have time to invest in a relationship. However, if someone can't make a date happen, they aren't relationship material.

Studies show that the longer it takes to meet in person the less likely the relationship will work long term. A healthy person who's ready for a relationship will not drag their feet about getting together. If you want a relationship don't waste on something that might not be real.

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Lisa Hayes, The Love Whisperer, is an LOA Relationship Coach. She helps clients leverage Law of Attraction to get the relationships they dream about and build the lives they want. Lisa is the author of the newly released hit book, Score Your Soulmate and How to Escape from Relationship Hell and The Passion Plan.

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