There is a lot of chatter about online dating, but very little discussion of the fantasy relationships that are spawned by this means of connecting.
My definition of a fantasy relationship is a relationship that occurs between people who never meet in person. The people email and/or phone each other, frequently or occasionally, and might develop feelings for each other, but never take it to the next step, i.e., they never bring it into the real world.
There are a number of possible reasons why these interactions remain in cyberspace. One is that one or both of the individuals is/are married or has a significant other. Another reason is that the man wants to "date" the woman without springing for dinners. A third reason is that one or both of the individuals has something to hide and a fourth, more common, reason is that one or both of the individuals is fearful of having a flesh and blood relationship because he or she isn't ready for one or is afraid of being hurt if it doesn't work out.
On their face, these fantasy relationships appear to be harmless. They're not. They can be a huge waste of time and energy and they can prevent an individual from meeting available people to date.
A semi-fantasy relationship is one in which there is a lot of lead time and/or chatter in cyberspace or by telephone before the first date occurs. The problem with this is that the real person rarely lives up to the fantasy of him or her that you've built up in your mind. This leads to unnecessary disappointment.
In my opinion, the best way to go about online dating is to get quickly to a phone conversation that lasts no longer than an hour. If you like the way the phone conversation goes, make a date to meet sooner rather than later. If I were a man, I would suggest drinks after work. That way, if the date is going well, you can move onto dinner. If it's not going well, you can make your excuses after an hour.
Fantasy relationships serve a purpose, but they're not to be confused with real relationships as they occur in the minds, only, of the participants. Try to avoid getting involved in a fantasy relationship as life is short and you deserve to have a relationship that isn't just between your ears.