I wrote in to suggest this particular topic as it is one very close and dear to my heart. I have recently returned from a holiday to the USA to meet a girl I had been talking to online. It isn't quite as risky as it sounds because we had shared friends in each country, so we weren't total strangers, but we hadn't met each other in person until a few weeks ago.
The first nine months of our relationship was strictly online, and for me, this hasn't been a negative. With current technology at a level where we could send bite-size emails as regularly as other couple send SMS text messages and incurring no extra costs, we were able to maintain conversations on a instant scale. No long distance pen pals writing hand-written letters to each other, and waiting weeks for a response, although we have dabbled in sending each other handwritten letters to give each other that extra feeling of closeness.
Other advances in technology include webcams and video calls, which we've also taken advantage of, speaking to each other through Skype. Whilst there were the occasional glitches in video and sound quality, this did help us get a better feel for each other as human beings instead of words on a screen. I imagine many of the people on this website have formed relationships, not necessarily romantic, but have used the words found on the screen to build a personality around the way the user writes his or her review. Maybe as a species, we are quick to personify things to identify with them - I mean, just take a look at the movie, Babe...(or Babe 2: Pig in the City)
The downside to the long-distance relationship is the lack of physical intimacy, and I must admit after meeting her for a week and getting the opportunity to hold her hand, run my hands through her hair and all of the other things you'd find in a Mills & Boon novel, I am finding it harder to cope with the loss of physical affection. The only real antidote for that is to quickly plan a second visit, which is something I am already in the process of doing, and is actually something my Ciao earnings will aid me in doing. The trip from London to the USA is not a cheap one, and I aim to visit her once every six months, with her coming over to see me once a year, which brings me to my final point.
While I try to avoid thinking about long-term plans with such an unconvential relationship, the sensible side of me does look towards the future, albeit the fairly immediate future. I am planning my second visit, and she is planning her visit to see me. I hope that these semi-annual visits continue for the next year or so, with the long-term goal of one of us making the ultimate form of commitment and relocating to the other person's country. Whether this would involve me heading over to America, or her coming to live in jolly old England, we have yet to decide, but I do believe that if you find that special someone, no matter where they are, that the only obstacles in your way are the ones you allow to be there.
Maybe in 3 or 4 years I can write a comment to my own review and let you all know that I am happily married to my American Beauty, and that long-distance love can triumph over all.