I have a client who is dating online. He’s gone from nothing to raining women in a few months. Except most of the women with whom he’s corresponding are out of town.

So while he’s visiting one right now, he hasn’t yet booked a flight for the one he’s really excited about.

If he sounds a bit shady, he’s not. He’s just overwhelmed by the choices he’s created for himself – to the point that he’s not actually thinking straight.

He asked me how he should play it, given his level of interest in the second out of town woman.

Him: Is it all right to let her know that I’m going to be out of town for awhile?

Me: Sure.

Him: Is it all right to send her an email while I’m gone?

Me: Sure.

Him: Do I have to call her if I’m away? Or can I just wait until I get back?

Me: You’re going away on business for two weeks, with a little bit of pleasure. How do you think she’ll feel if you don’t speak to her for two weeks?

Him: Yeah, I guess.

Me: This is the one you really like, right? The one who you talk to until midnight?The one who flirts with you and teases you? The one you really wanna meet? So let’s pretend you weren’t going to play any games or strike any postures to achieve a certain result. How would you act toward a girl who was really into you? How would you act if she was your girlfriend?

Him: I’d call her. I’d probably call her all the time.

Me: Because she’s your girlfriend.

Him: Yeah. That’s what you’re supposed to do.

Me: That’s what you want to do. Do you want her to be your girlfriend?

Him: Maybe. Sure.

Me: Then start treating her like one.

Him: Got it.

Not until then did it occur to me that in three of my most prominent adult relationships, the bonds were forged when we were in different cities. I’m not just talking about long-distance. I’m talking about meeting someone right before I had to go visit my family for a week. Each time, I followed through on the early promise of our email/phone conversations and allowed myself to drop my guard. Each time, I came back to a woman who became my girlfriend.

By making an effort while you’re out of town, you show in actions what no amount of words can say: that you’re serious, that you care, that you can’t wait to talk again, that you refuse to lose the tenuous connection that you’ve forged thus far.

Of course, it takes two to tango. If he emails every day and she doesn’t email back, there’s a major power imbalance. But if he makes an effort and she makes an effort, I can virtually promise that by the time those two get together, they’re going to be a virtual couple. No one can predict whether there’ll be chemistry, but we do know there’ll be trust. And trust, if you’ve ever dated online, is even harder to find than chemistry.

Let down your guard. Show you care. Make an effort.

You can’t lose by being real.