Oftentimes I am asked: "What is the secret to life long love?" and in reality most of us know the answer - respect for one's partner and loyalty.  Those who respect their partner will be more inclined to stand by through joyful times as well as sad ones, through times when you are made to feel like the Cloud Nine Princess to moments when boorish words or even straying hurts you.

It is true that in December I wrote: 4 Best Kept Secrets to Lasting Love | Psychology Today but one needs a baseline. For a strong and enduring relationship, find a person who shares your values and whom you respect.

T. Byram Karasu, M.D., believes in marrying within what he calls your "tribal community."  He says: "Having common mores, ethics, rituals, and a sense of oneness will simplify your life and make it joyful." Marry The Girl or Boy Next Door.  

Although I have a number of friends who met and married their online love, I am a believer in personal introductions within a supportive social network - family, friends, work, volunteer groups, local bookstore events, museum programs, school programs, or even pot luck suppers.

There is an exquisite beauty that unfolds when socializing with others in your "tribal community" and observing the way a man in your life extends heartfelt love to others.  

Through his exchange of stories and history with those who become treasures within your social circle you can feel the "sense of oneness" within the context of respect.

Because of the one to one nature of online dating, being a part of an extended social relationship will take more time to nurture and develop.

Pros and cons of online dating

The key benefit to online dating is variety, the opportunity to review a wide variety of profiles.  The major drawback, however, is getting to know the person hiding behind the computer screen.  Maria Coder talked with me after her Today Show appearance recently. She is committed to helping women investigate their date through her workshops. Wolf in Sheep's Clothing 101: The woman teaching online daters

If you are dating online be safe and always create a safety net of friends who will check in on you, says Julie Spira, whom I recently interviewed for Love Online: Dating Expert's Advice and the Love Letter Wish

Unmasking the married imposter

Co-author of our newest book, Bill Mitchell, is a private investigator who has been called upon to unmask the married man or the fraud preying on lonely hearts. Infidelity and Marriage: Deal- breaker or Wake-up Call by Rita  Watson and Bill Mitchell

In the world of infidelity, we believe that despite the misinformation about men who supposedly cheat on Valentine's Day, there is good evidence to show that this is often media hype. 

For true romantics it was comforting to see restraint in Downton Abbey | Masterpiece | PBS where in Episode 6 we saw Robert, Earl of Grantham, catch himself in the throes of a wild kiss with one of the servants and then show restraint and honor.

Essentially, if a relationship flaw can be fixed, many experts believe you owe it to yourself and the relationship to find a way to do so.

The concept of love

Keep in mind that whether dating online or offline, the concept of love has not changed.  Research shows that women and even men like romance. While a colleague often writes from a male perspective -- edgy without illusions -- even he believes in romance.

In the world of dating and mating, what has changed is way in which we court someone we love.  We have lost the excitement of waiting for a love letter in this digital age where romance has been reduced to Tweets, Texts, and emails.

Perhaps this month of Valentine hearts and flowers, give yourself the gift of sending a hand-written note to your husband, your lover, a new man in your life, or even a man you envision in your future -- then see where the words lead you. 

Copyright 2012  Rita Watson/ All Rights Reserved

Follow Rita Watson on Twitter @ LoveColumnist


A 7 Step Valentine Love Plan

Words Can Be Your Relationship Deal-breaker

Love, Make-up Sex, and the Silent Treatment

Separately Together: # 1 Relationship Requirement?

You are reading

With Love and Gratitude

How Lawyers and Psychologists Are Helping Immigrant Children

Pro bono lawyers and trained counselors can help traumatized children recover.

Psychopaths Have Regrets: Can Early Help and Love Save Them?

New research shows repeated bad choices, but intervention may help.

Treasuring Memories Through Memoirs, Stories, or Videos

Memoirs are a distinct field of academic study, yet we can all capture a memory.