Q: I met this guy online and we have been talking every day for the past two months. He lives two and a half hours from me and he drove here to meet me in person one weekend. We hit it off great. Now that we have talked a whole lot more, our feelings for each other have grown into love. He told me that he loves me and I've told him that I love him. The first time he told me I got a little butterfly feeling in the pit of my stomach and a warm feeling all over. I have strong feelings for him and would like to spend more time with him and his son, but just can't seem to do that. Are the feelings that we have towards each other real or are they just a feeling? If they are true feelings, I would like to pursue the relationship. -- Christy, 24
Dr. Susan: Let's get one thing straight: love is a feeling. But it's more than a feeling, too. Love predictably starts out with those butterflies in the stomach, warm feelings all over, and a craving to be in the presence of the loved one. It's all about the chemicals our body releases, and no one really knows exactly why one person and not another will get those chemicals swooshing around inside you. Certainly when someone says he loves you, it can feel amazing.
That said, you've only met this fellow once in person. That's hardly enough to know where this relationship might go. For this to be "real" love, you'd have to spend more time together and see if you can handle obstacles, misunderstandings, and real (ordinary, boring) life together. Love is more of a commitment than a simple feeling. And you aren't ready to make a commitment yet, as you seem to understand. Especially since he has a child and that complicates matters. So feel free to pursue the relationship, especially if he's equally interested. A two-and-a-half-hour-driving distance shouldn't be that impossible to surmount. Drive near the speed limit but take the relationship much more slowly.
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.