I met Caleb online. Our friends were getting married, and we were both part of the entourage. They thought it would be a good idea for us to connect before he came over. I was apprehensive at first. All the signs were there. He seemed too smooth, too suave. He was funny and fun–so much fun that I should’ve taken this as a sign that maybe that’s all he wanted.

We clicked right away. He got me, I got him.

He told his friend that he’s never liked anyone the way that he liked me, and he said this even before he met me. He said the right things and told me not to give my number to other guys because then he’d get mad (kinilig naman ako because it meant he wanted me for himself).

He said he didn’t want to look at other girls. Even though I put up my guard at the beginning, I felt myself let go little by little. I let myself fall for him. We would stay up until the wee hours of the morning Skyping. Despite the time difference, we were chatting back and forth at least 20 hours a day.

I rationalized, "He must like me back right? Why go to all that trouble if he didn’t?"

Finally, the day of his arrival came. I waited in anticipation to hear from him–to know that he had landed safely. I couldn’t sleep and texted our common friend. "Did he get here safely?" The friend replied, "Yeah we’re just grabbing a bite to eat." Warning bells went off. But I made excuses, thinking that he probably didn’t want to spend on international text. Later on, when I wasn’t so blinded, I realized that any person who was really into me would not have minded spending a couple of dollars to make sure I knew he was safe.

A day passed, yet there was no word from him. Two days passed and I was at wit’s end. Throughout his whole stay, he barely got in touch with me, telling me he didn’t want to bother me because he knew I had work, that his Wi-Fi at the hotel was spotty.

When he finally did get a local SIM, he didn’t get in touch until after three days after he got it. I was so confused because the few times we were together, we had fun. He was like the Caleb that I had chatted for months with. He was affectionate and attentive. But when we were apart, he was distant. I racked my brain trying to figure out who this person was because he was totally different from the caring, sweet guy that I was chatting with when he was all the way across the world.

I had thought that, based on his actions and his words (he said that he was into me, but wanted to meet me in person first), that this would be THE ONE. He constantly sent photos, sent funny videos, checked up on me all the time. And then all of a sudden, when we were finally on the same soil, I couldn’t recognize him.

I finally sat him down. He cited one of the most common excuses in the world, "I’m not ready for a relationship." I spat, "Yeah, and watch, when you get back home I’ll find out within a month that you’re seeing someone."

I asked him what was the point of talking to me for all those months when he had no intention of being in a relationship and he gave some lame answer like, "I just wanted to have fun."

Finally, he left for home. The moment he landed on American soil, he was back to his usual attentive self. He was virtually around all the time. And I couldn’t get why he was that way when he was home and why he was different while he was here. Nevertheless, I told him I wanted other things and didn’t want to waste my time on this "in-between" stuff that was headed nowhere. I was hoping for a happily ever after but got a broken heart instead.

I had heard so many long-distance relationship success stories and believed so much that that was what I could have with Caleb. Without delusion, I am certain that he did lead me on. But, I also know it takes two to tango and I know that I allowed myself to see things that may have not been there. I learned that, for online dating, no matter how often you talk to someone, you can’t fully get to know someone unless you’ve spent some actual in-person, physical time with them. I learned that there are so many things that you can misread when your correspondence is mainly through chat.

There were so many things I didn’t know–and couldn’t know–about Caleb when we were just chatting. For instance, I wasn’t aware that he had a temper. And that he had this sulky thing going on whenever he felt uncomfortable. Online, he just seemed like he was this happy-go-lucky guy.

My heart was shattered and I felt like a complete fool. But, I’m thankful for the experience because I learned to expect more for myself. Not to be content just because he gives me the time of day, or that he sent me a photo or a video, or that he loops me in on what goes on in his life. That’s the norm.

Women everywhere constantly settle for the bare minimum. Heck, most of the time, many of us settle for less than that! I learned to expect what is equivalent to my worth as a woman. To wait for a guy who is willing to go the distance, and not just be made up of fluff.

Nowadays, I’ll go online dating once in a while. Check what’s out there. The Caleb experience has made me much more discerning, though. I’m more cautious about who to give my heart to (I haven’t yet), and insist on meeting first. Some men will profess their love to me and I’ll say, "I don’t think you can really love someone without meeting them first."

Call me a skeptic, but the truth is, people are multi-dimensional. You can’t fully know someone–their quirks, their intricacies, simply through chatting or video call. I still believe that love CAN be found online, you just have to spend time together to see if it’s really a fit.

*Minor edits have been made by the Femalenetwork.com editors

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PHOTO: Pixabay; GIFs: Giphy

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