You have been living the single life for some time now, and you feel like you are ready for a real relationship with someone who will honor and cherish you. Sounds like a lovely idea, and most people want the fairy tale. It’s just that perhaps you’ve come up short on the “happily ever after” part in the past, and that is likely to make you a bit shy when it comes to finding new love.

More and more people are using the Internet, although I know several people who refuse to try it. Each to his or her own, but either way, finding someone new can be a challenge.

You can’t bond with a person you don’t trust, and trust is earned, not given, so it takes a little time. If you’ve met someone online, do a Skype or FaceTime call, so you can see each other ASAP. That can make or break the potential new connection. Once you’ve decided you like each other, then meeting is the logical next step.

This shouldn’t be a problem as long as you are within driving distance from each other, but what if you aren’t? Taking a trip to meet someone new is daunting for both parties, and this journey should not be taken lightly. Make sure that the two of you have had at least 36 hours of face-to-face conversation (via the Internet) and that several other people know where you are going and who you are seeing.

You can feel a lot over the computer screen. I remember falling in love over the telephone way back when that was our only means of communication. And those $400-a-month phone bills put a big dent in my travel budget, but times have changed.

I know many people who have met online. Some were ready for the real thing; others were not. Check in with yourself and see where you truly are. If you know that this is the right time, or even your last chance, I say go for it, but proceed with optimistic caution.

For me, being in a loving relationship is the most important thing in my life. Career, money, seeing the world: all take a backseat to being with the one I love. I haven’t always chosen wisely, but the option of staying alone (though attractive at times) is just not right for me in the long run. A good relationship is better than therapy, and a bad one can send you there in a New York minute. Some people are too wounded to try again—and it’s okay to be on your own if that’s what you choose—but if you are a relationship-oriented person, being alone and lonely can be painful and even hazardous to your health.

We have all heard good and bad dating stories. How you meet matters less than how you treat each other after you do. Most people are on their best behavior for at least a month, or maybe a year, and others are just always good people, and that is what you need to look for.

Beauty and brawn fade over time. Money gets spent or lost, but love can last forever if you both support each other and are kind. It really doesn’t take all that much to make a relationship work. Just be giving, and treat the one you love as you wish to be treated.

As your bond builds, you will develop an understanding and a willingness to care for one another. When you are with someone who has your back, whatever the world throws at you can be handled. It’s amazing how much power there is in a loving relationship.

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