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A couple months ago I began talking to Jonathan, a guy I met on a Christian dating site. He lived across the country in Colorado, but I figured it wouldn’t hurt to get to know one another. Besides, he had killer dimples in his profile photo—my personal weakness!

As usual, it started out with emails. And probably too many of them. (Why can’t a Christian guy just ask for a gal’s number already?!) Still, for a writer like myself, there was something romantic about it—like sending letters back in the olden days. The emails got longer and longer, and we wrote about everything—our jobs, our churches, our families. I truly felt like I knew him.

Finally, he asked for my number and called. It’s always weird to talk for the first time on the phone with someone you really only know from a dating profile and a bunch of emails. Still it adds another dimension. I could hear his voice, his laughter, his hesitation, his excitement.

Soon he suggested we talk on Skype. Normally, had he lived any closer, we would have probably met for a date at this point. But 2,000 miles make that a complicated decision. I was nervous, but agreed to talk via web cam.

Butterflies fluttered in my tummy as I clicked “Answer” on that first Skype call. He seemed a bit nervous too (in an adorable way, of course).

It took only a minute to feel comfortable with the long distance, high tech alternative to just meeting up for coffee. Jonathan was witty and smart. He grabbed my attention and kept it. And he was cute to boot!

We Skyped several times after that—each time having longer and deeper conversations… well into the late evening hours.

Until that one day.

It was finally here!—the day Jonathan would mention coming out to see me in Washington, D.C. The timing was right! We were definitely attracted to one another, our personalities clicked, and we had the same values and beliefs. Taking it to that next level—and finally meeting—was logically the next step.

I was nervous before this particular Skype call. It was evening, and I rushed home from work so I’d have time to eat dinner before our chat. I didn’t eat dinner. Instead (and this is slightly embarrassing) I took one look at myself in the mirror and decided I needed to shower and curl my hair. Come on, ladies! Even in a grainy video feed, you gotta look cute!

We started to talk and I was bubbling. My lip gloss was gleaming as I rambled about my day, laughing through a story about an annoying coworker’s crazy antics. But, on this day, something was different. The moments where he would normally smile or laugh, he didn’t.

You see, Jonathan had prepared for this day with a different mindset. His tummy wasn’t full of butterflies. He wasn’t already checking his calendar to see which weekends were free, or making a list of fun activities to do in the nation’s capital. He wasn’t showering and getting cute for a Skype chat.

What was this day for Jonathan?

It was the day he planned to tell me he didn’t want a long distance relationship.

The shock came suddenly—truly out of the blue. And just like all girls do, I started to question things. Why had he talked to me for so long? Why had he called over and over again, and held two-hour conversations? Why had he told me such personal things about his life and family?

I had always been in D.C. He had always been in Colorado. If he didn’t want a long-distance relationship, he shouldn’t have let it go this far.

The call ended badly and we never really spoke again, apart from a couple apologetic emails from him that went unanswered.

After I closed my laptop that night, I cried. I remember feeling like a fool and doubting whether he ever liked me. I remember questioning what I did wrong, what I could have done to make it work. I remember feeling alone.

What I learned that day is that online dating can be very real. It’s not shallow simply because it’s happening through a computer screen or over a telephone. If you’re truly putting yourself out there—as I was—it can be very emotional. Jonathan and I had never met, but two months went by and I was locked in. My heart was in it.

And—even from 2,000 miles away—my heart was broken.

Looking back, I don’t regret getting to know Jonathan. But I do wish I had been more careful. I wish I had spoken up earlier about the distance. Girls are always told to let the guy make the first move. But letting him woo me just to later walk away can’t be healthy for my heart, either. I should have stepped up—I should have asked his intentions. I could have saved myself a world of hurt.

“Above all else, guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life.” Proverbs 4:23