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Please help me to understand how this "LDF" should

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Hi all,


I wasn't sure if I should post this in the friendship, cyber relationship or LDR forum, because it has elements of all 3. Still, this is as good a place as any. Secondly, I would like to make it abundantly clear that I am discussing a Long Distance Friendship here - not a "relationship" per se (she is way too young, has a "life ahead of her", needs to spread her wings and lives 12,000 kilometres away).


This friendship had it's beginnings more than 12 months ago. This young lady first made contact with me via a forum which we both frequented. It turned out that we both seemed to have an identical interest in a specific technical subject. I guess that was the genesis for some sort of friendship happening at some stage down the track. However, with absolutely zero interest on my part of forming a friendship, I was quite happy to simply exchange occasional emails with this young lady, and quite enjoyed doing so - because she was exceptionally intelligent and unbelievably mature for her age (she is 18, I am 37). Just as an aside, I never asked her age since I didn't consider it to have any relevance. I only found out about her age about 2 months ago when she told me (unsolicited). I had told her how old I was long beforehand.


For about 9 months the emails were only occasional. Of course, I didn't think anything at all of this - in the same way I'm sure many of us have a full inbox of email from acquintances, etc.


Anyway, things seemed to take a decidedly different turn about 3 months ago. She mentioned the concept of us being friends at about that time. I had never even remotely considered the prospect, but I was also starting to realise that we had so much in common that it was rather freakish. In fact I don't think in all my years I have ever had so much in common with anyone.


It was then that the volume of communication began to increase. Even when we "decided" we were friends, I was still quite happy just to send her an email once per week and I thought that would be enough for her. I was thus surprised when I received messages the very next day asking how I was. I then began to get "daily updates" from her. Nowadays, the volume of emails is even higher. I am now getting regular morning, noon and night mails!


That sort of paints most of the picture, but I'll add a few more things. Firstly, this young lady is a truly wonderful friend - the best I have ever had by a long shot. I want to do everything to keep the friendship going. She has made a huge difference to my life.


OK, so here are the issues I am trying to get clear in my mind. I have never had a friendship like this before. The age gap thing, the different sex thing and the huge distance - which sort of makes the friendship reliant on technology - these three things put together are all brand new to me.


A significant thing that concerns me is the unrelenting frequency of communication. I am confused as to whether this is spured on by this young lady's boundless energy, or by the fact that she is female (my research in these forums suggests females sustain this sort of frequency of communication far better than males), or whether it has to do with the distance aspect. Or perhaps a combination of all three? As a bloke, my friendships hitherto have been completely different to this. I might not talk to a male friend for months on end, and then we will pick up the phone and take up where we last left off.


I mean, I do have to make it clear I am currently quite happy reciprocating to her messages, but it does concern me that her energy levels are far higher than mine. She is also at a stage of her life where lots of exciting things happen every day, whereas at my age things tend to have settled down a lot more.


I'm just wondering what is ahead for us? She runs rings around me in almost every aspect. She always has something exciting to tell me (even with the 6 hourly updates LOL). I read in this very forum that long distance relations of any type usually reach a "settling down" stage, but this does not seem to be happening here. If anything, it is going in the other direction!


For my own part, this frienship is way too valuable for me to want to damage it in any way. But I'm worried that sooner or later she might find me too boring and that I am simply going to start running out of things to say that captivate her interest sufficiently.


So I was wondering if any younger female members here could help offer me some insight as to what I should be doing to make sure this LDF doesn't burn out? The pace seems to be inordinately frantic, but on the other hand, I have never had a serious long distance relationship of any kind before, so I have nothing to go on. Perhaps this level of communication is a requirement to keep the friendship going? If so, that is fine, but I have to wonder how long it will be before she starts to find my ramblings a little repetitive, boring or stale. I just feel that trying to analyse this from a male point of view is futile, because I have always approached such friendships from a completely different perspective from this one, and that is also the case for every other male friend I have known.


In closing, I would just like to add that I think email has been a perfect vehicle of communcation for us - because we can always answer each other's questions thoughtfully and thoroughly. The fact that we have time to consider what we say to each other seems to be quite critical to this LDF, especially as much of our conversation requres an awful lot of thought (she runs rings around me intellectually and I have to work hard to keep up - again the difference in our energy levels would come into play here).


I suppose in the end, I am trying to understand how younger ladies might approach their close friendships with males where long distances are involved.

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Just a very short reply because I am almost asleep


You referred to the settling down stage, well that is normal when you start to confide in each other as being part of a serious relationship. I think this girl wants a relationship, and has no clear signs from you. So she keeps on doing this until one of you takes the step in defining this 'friendship'.


Be careful, 18 years old is very young, she's almost 20 years your minor!


Simply ask her where she thinks this is going.


Where do you think it's going yourself?



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Hi Ilse,


Thanks for the feedback. As for where do I think this is going, that is a complex answer. As I stated in my original post, I have never come accross a human being with which I have clicked so easily and with whom I can talk about anything without any inhibition or concern that she will think any less of me. I think the absolute world of her. Every time I get an email from her I feel so touched that she considers me worthy enough for her to have spent the time writing (and they are never short emails from either of us - she is putting a lot of time into this friendship).


But at this stage all I want is friendship. Actually sorry, that is incorrect. I'll rephrase that. At this stage, I am absolutely certain that friendship is in her best interests. There are numerous reasons for this. With the profession she is going into, I know how exceptionally hard the next 5 years are going to be for her as she completes her tertiary studies and starts to spread her professional wings. She is going to need to work extremely hard over the next 5 years and sacrifice a lot to get there.


Secondly, we have actually discussed relationships quite a lot. I wasn't intending to discuss them, but out of the blue she started to go "off topic" in one email and started talking about kids, marriage and relationships. Seeing as she spilt the beans there, I thought I had better follow suit (out of concern that she may have a boyfriend, in which case I would have felt uncomfortable and unethical in carrying on a close friendship). In any event, after we both aired our laundry on that one, it was clear we were both single, without dependants, unattached and marriage and children minded should the right person ever come along. At one stage she went into a fair degree of detail about attitudes toward males and what she thought of having relationships with them. It was more or less at this stage that I started to get concerns (for want of a better word) in my head that she may potentially have some sort of interest in me. At that stage I simply told her (in a light-hearted way) that for someone of her immense calibre, she could do a lot better than someone like me (I truly believe this is the case, for numerous reasons). She then wrote back and said that was nonsense and that any girl would be lucky to have me


Anyway, there is the bleedingly obvious age gap issue. I wouldn't even remotely contemplate a serious relationship with someone at 18. I think it is deplorable, irreponsible and does a huge disservice to the younger party. It's not so much the numerical difference in our ages (afterall, I know marriages working beautifully with 34 year age gaps). But as most people here know, a person undergoes a lot of emotional changes between the ages of 18 and say, their early to mid twenties. Things that they don't see as important at 18 are suddenly important at 25 and vice versa. I fully accept the fact that she may not wish to be friends with me when she is a little older, because of these changes in focus. And then there is the obvious issue that sooner or later one would expect she will have a boyfriend. This makes my strategy even more difficult. I want to make sure I do absolutely nothing that might inhibit her getting "experience" in this direction as well, but froma selfish perspective I would be sad to lose a friend as well should this happen.


and now for the big BUT......


Were we to stay friends until she had gotten into her early / mid twenties I would be over the moon with delight should she wish to move the relationship to another level. It is in fact one my greatest laments that I wish I had met this wonderful person in another time and place and in different circumstances...I can definitely tell you that I have worded some of my responses to her in such a careful way that she understands my viewpoint on this subject. She is exceptionally sharp when it comes to reading between the lines, and I think we both have dropped enough hints that we probably agree on this aspect of things. There is defintely no need to outright "ask" each other.


But I guess from my perspective I see the chances of such things happening as being quite remote (I mean in all seriousness, any bloke would have to be a stark raving lunatic not to want to have this girl by his side. She is an absolutely astonishing and truly wonderful person in every possible way). So I see it as inevitable that she will develop some sort of relationship before I feel she would be old enough to "consider" me.


That's why I am so concerned about how to handle this. I feel so happy that she even considers me worthy to be a friend and her friendship means so much to me. But in the end, I want what is best for her - not me.


Oh I forgot to add. At one stage she went away on a short tour for a few days. She gave me a lot of upfront warning about this so that I wouldn't worry about not getting any emails from her during this period. The last email she sent me before she left even included some "homework" for me to do (to keep me occupied) so that she could "mark" it when she got back. I found that so touching and considerate

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Well, I am 19, and (without being vain) I think I am mature beyond my years, and I have been told that by many people, all in the same 'way' ... and like you said, she is mature for her age.


So you don't have to worry that she isn't mature enough for you, in fact I think she is. I admire your wish to see her needs above yours, but she seems to be attracted to you despite the age difference. I think she feels that if she could be with you it can only help her along to have someone who is older and wiser and would help her to make a success of herself. She knows that your guidance can only help her along.


Remember that a solid relationship is based on a solid friendship. You already have that. She wants it, and despite your "better judgement" you want it too (it's clear in your messages that you are actually wanting some kind of furthering of your connection with her).


A lot can happen in 5 years...including a growing romantic interest. Leaving it unaddressed or not setting goals for the relationship (romantic or not) is not going to do it any good.


So in my capacity for giving advice, I would say that you need to ask her, directly, if she wants to take your friendship further. If she says yes, highlight the reasons that you think it may not be the best thing for her, but tell her that you support her decision (after all, she is mature enough to make a rational decision after getting the facts) - and if she says no, then you say "okay, I'm glad we cleared that up!" and then laugh about it. You're good enough friends to not "break up" after asking sumthing like that, so go for it.


Remember, if she wants it, you want it, and she (as the one who is more affected by it) is happy with it, then you are giving her what she wants...and nothing will make her happier. However if she realises you are right, then that is that and you can continue as happy friends!


I hope this helped, its my opinion and it may not be "right" or even "moral" but hey...works for me

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Hi DJ_Element,


I appreciate the effort and thought you have put into that very good response. Thank you.


I feel that at this stage, I am just going to make sure our conversations (at least my side of the conversations) are such that I emphasise how lucky she is to have her local friends and that she is lucky to be in a situation that fosters and nutures her talents and thereforeeee future career.


I think if she has any attraction to me then that is being a little idealistic on her part, and this is probably explained by the difference between the 18 year old version of her now and the (hypothetical) version of her that would be closer to my age. She really deserves the absolute best of everything and I am unfortunately not in a particularly advantageous position to provide those things to her.


I guess I remain curious though as to whether people think the volume of emailing that is going on between us at present is out of character for a Long Distance Friendship? I guess I'm sort of hoping that a female member here will jump in and say "...that's normal. I email my male long distance friends every day.."


I have mentioned to her to twice that I felt the volume of email would be keeping her from other things, but she denies this.

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Its always a pleasure.


It's not a bad move on your part to emphasise that she is lucky to have her local friends...but by the time you've told her three times, she'll know that, and I bet that she appreciates and values her local friends and the situation she is in. But she wouldn't be emailing you as often as she is if she didn't honestly appreciate and value YOU just as much.


Secondly, she may be somewhat idealistic, but from where I stand, you may not be able to 'provide' the absolute best of everything...and she most likely KNOWS that. Yet she continues...meaning that she thinks that what you are offering her right now is the best for her.


I get a feeling that right now you are making a decision based on what you think is best for her, not what is best for her....you know what I mean? It doesn't mean that you are wrong - in fact I happen to agree with your reasons and feelings about the situation and I can see that you care about her enough to not want her to get hurt. Remember, she wouldn't email you and be as close to you if she wasn't comfortable with it, or didn't want to move forward.


I'm not a female member, but I can say that emailing my friends every single day more than once a day is a bit excessive. She obviously craves talking to you, she finds you intellectually stimulating, you clearly talk on the same level and she loves it. And like I said before, she is also seeing you as a mentor, someone who can help her make a success of her life. And the fact that you are replying to all those email says to her that you are 'accepting' her hints....now I'm not saying that you shouldn't reply, but it's just something I think is going through her mind.


Of course she denies that emailing you all the time keeps her from other things...probably because she's not as interested in the 'other things' as much as she is in you.


It is a tricky situation, especially on your part, but I think you'll handle it okay. Just remember that she might get hurt if you rebuff her 'advances' - but if you choose to set a boundary and not cross that boundary, do it soon.


Good luck on this, keep us posted!

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  • 2 weeks later...

You asked for a response from a young female and I hope to provide you with that...The others that have replied to you seem to have said all that I wanted to say about the age difference stuff however about the constant e-mailing....I have several LDFs that I've lost touch with over the years....when we e-mailed every day or every second day, our friendship was great...it was when it slowed down to once a week, to once every two weeks that the friendship just died....


I don't see anything wrong with a daily update with someone that I'm close to...I have a long distance BOYFRIEND that I e-mail a few times a day but that's only because he's just moved and I'm having a hard time with it...I know when we get comfortable with our new relationship it will probably go down to about once a day.......


I don't think I really made a point here...I think multiple e-mails a day is slightly excessive however if you both have the time and you both keep responding to each other a few times a day, you can't just stop replying as often...you either have to talk to her about the amount of time you spend e-mailing or make a point of e-mailing her once at the end of the day in response to all her e-mails of the day...then maybe she'll start only sending you one a day because she knows you'll only respond to her once....


I don't know what else to say....I probably wasn't much of a help....sorry

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Hi there my_dog_pedro,


Thank you so much for the response. And no. It is great advice! Thank you! You are so correct about changing the existing frequency of the emails and how that might have an impact on how she perceives me. We are now IM'ing each other as well now, so the communication is even more frequent.


I actually crave talking to her (to use DJ's expression) as much as she craves (seemingly) to talk to me. She is the best friend I have ever had. The real issues I have with it is that I don't want us to "burn out" plus the fact that as I'm older I have a lot of those "adult" responsibilities that seem to govern older people's lives. But I *think* we might be OK, because we sort of have an understanding that if we can't reply "immediately" it's because we had something else to do at the time.


But I am scared stiff that if I attempt to put a throttle on how often she wants to talk me that she might start to think less of me. To be honest, she is actually someone I would want to be with 24 hours a day anyway, but being with someone all time and talking non-stop all the time are two different things.


I will certainly take your advice and experience on board though. If I feel I'm not able to cope - you are quite right - it's much better to talk to her about it first rather than risk losing a friend.


I'm terribly upset and embarrassed to say that I think I have feelings for her (I could never tell her this ) Maybe when she gets a boyfriend she will decide for herself to cut down the emails, otherwise I'll just have to bite the bullet and do so myself, since that would be the honourable and morally correct thing to do imho.

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Another thing you have to keep in mind is that you've never actaully met her (at least I don't think you have....) Talking to her face to face could totally change everything...from what you've said I assume this isn't something you are planning on doing...? One other question, do her parents know about your friendship? As a young female, I know my parents would absolutely freak if they found out that I had an online friendship with a man almost 20 years older than me....be sure not to come between her and her parents if you do wish for your friendship to continue far into the future....

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....be sure not to come between her and her parents if you do wish for your friendship to continue far into the future....


Oh yeh. I am well aware of that one!! But I have told her many times over the importance of her parents and respecting their wisdom and wishes. Don't get me wrong. I would never ever do anything to even remotely jeopardise her own relationships. That is why I have absolutely no expectations from this friendship, depsite the degree to which I value it.

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