ENTERTAINMENT
10/01/2014 02:14 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Can You Really Fall In Love Online?

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Nikki, a guest on Dr. Phil, was madly in love with a man she met on the Internet. But five years after they first met in a chat room and four years after professing their love for one another, they still hadn’t ever met face to face! They planned to meet several times and talked about eloping, but he never showed up and always had an excuse.

"Let me tell you," Dr. Phil told Nikki, "somebody who loves you, cares about you and is your soul mate, would not waste five years of your life. And take it from me. Take it from a guy. If you're in love with somebody, boy, you will swim the stream, you will climb the mountain, you will slay the dragon. You're going to get to her somehow, some way, and you're going to do it in something under five years. And I'm going to tell you: This guy is married or something," he said. "And he may be 12 years old or he may be 62 years old. You don't know, do you?"

Nikki responded, “Who would drag it out for five years if they were just in it for a joke?"

"Oh Nikki,” said Dr. Phil, “there are some sick, sick people in this world.”

After hiring a private investigator, Dr. Phil discovered that the online lover doesn’t work or live where he claims to, and might be a married man with young children. Dr. Phil summed it up for Nikki: "You're getting used. And it's time to shut this down and get back to your life."

8 Ways To Tell You Are Ready For A Successful Relationship

If you’re investing time with someone you've never met, consider Dr. Phil’s advice:

  • When you look at it from an objective standpoint, as much as you can, does it seem odd to you to think you’re in love with someone you’ve never met?
  • Do family members not support this relationship? Listen to what the people closest to you are saying. They have your best interests at heart, and you should weigh what they have to say about it.
  • Have repeated attempts to meet failed? Do you find yourself making all the efforts to meet, and he has yet to show up? Ask yourself if you want to invest in someone who doesn't follow through with his/her word.
  • Remember that the online environment is the perfect breeding ground for fantasies because it allows us to ascribe all the wonderful qualities we want in a partner to someone we've never met.

"You can’t really be in love with someone until he/she has seen you with the flu," Dr. Phil says. Don’t base a relationship on superficial experiences, or simply on what he/she has told you. Truly get to know someone — in person — before deceiving yourself into believing what you have is real.

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