From Our Readers

I Met My Best Friend Online: A Modern Twist On Pen Pals

It feels like you can’t walk past a bench or television without seeing something about online dating and how accepted and common it has become. Everyone’s meeting their soul mate and spouse through email, pokes and “winks,” but there’s one online relationship that still isn’t entirely normal. My name is Gwen Baer and I met my completely platonic soul sister on the internet.

Not only that, but last weekend she flew from Austin, Texas to meet me in person. And yes, we’re both still alive.

Kylie and I “met” on Tumblr, a popular blogging site, about two and a half years ago. She found me through a Sex and the City quote about friendship and being pale. It wasn’t until a month after we began talking that I asked if she lived in my building that we realized that we didn’t know each other in real life. She attends Texas State at San Marcos, and I Auburn.

We eventually, drunkenly, decided to exchange phone numbers and became each other’s confidant. She’s an English secondary education major and I’m in the Public Relations program. Our friendship is entirely based on being nerdy, tea drinking dog lovers.

Last semester, Kylie asked if she could visit before she graduated in Fall 2013. It wasn’t until syllabus week this semester that we sat down, 15 hours apart and iMessaged possible dates. Neither of us had anything due the first week of April, it was meant to be.

Telling my parents that a girl I had never met was flying across four states to spend the weekend with me will forever be in the top five most awkward conversations of my life.

No, I’m not a lesbian. No, she’s not a lesbian. No, we’re not in love. No, I don’t know 100% that she is who she says she is, but it’s impossible to fake pictures on Snapchat, and we do that almost every day. Yes I’m picking her up in a public place so if she turns out to be a 50-year-old man who wants to sell my kidneys on the black market and steal my car and dog, I can choose to not take her home from the airport. Yes, I’m positive, neither of us are lesbians. No, I’m totally okay with you not telling Grandma about this. Yes, I still have friends and a social life outside of the internet.

Kylie and I really did take every possible precaution before meeting each other. We sent each other’s parents our contact information, our parents’ contact information and pictures of our driver’s licenses and student IDs. Although to be completely honest, we both agreed serial killers didn’t spend two and a half years getting to know someone online before meeting and then killing them.

Picking her up at the airport was the most exhilarating moment of my life. I’ve picked up boyfriends, brothers and parents from the Atlanta airport, but I had never been that excited and nervous about meeting anyone but my dog. I asked a total stranger to hold my phone and record us meeting, knowing that the woman would probably just steal my iPhone and I wouldn’t have any way to call for help when Kylie turned out to be Ted Bundy and sold my liver.

I don’t even remember seeing her for the first time. I just remember running to a little speeding ball of curly blond hair in a pink shirt, knocking over luggage as we squealed, hugged, bounced and cried just a little bit. Walking back to the woman with my phone, we noticed that half of the crowd was staring at us. A few older people joked that we must have been strangers, and I responded, honestly, that I had never met this girl before in my life.

The only weird thing about meeting my “internet best friend” was that it wasn’t weird at all. We didn’t have to speak or even look at each other to communicate. It felt less like I was spending a weekend with a stranger, and more like I was spending a typical weekend with my best friend. There was a moment, sitting on the couch watching HGTV, planning a trip to the Fitzgerald Museum and discussing homemade alfredo when we looked at each other and realized that we didn’t spend every day doing this, that this wasn’t normal.

I cried when I left her at the airport on Sunday. I’m flying to Texas for her graduation in December, and she’s returning to Auburn for mine next May. While we both agree that this trip didn’t have any impact on our sexuality, we will most likely visit each other every six months in the future. We’re more like Julia Child and Avis Devoto than most 21-year-old girls, but the internet just gave our friendship a modern twist on the classic pen pal story.

You can read more from Gwen Baer on her blog.

And you can watch the video of them meeting for the first time here.

  • Mélissa Plante

    Great post. I have a story very similar like yours.

  • Jenny Wallen Koenig

    What a great story! I’ve always wanted a pen pal.

  • Rebekah Decker

    Love it. Some of my closest friends are girls I met online. No one has made a suit out of my skin so far, so that’s pretty cool….

  • Leah Williams

    Great story and War Eagle :)

    • Gwen Baer

      War Eagle! We actually have a few mutual friends on facebook…

  • Erika Garcia

    Very cute story :) I met my best friend through the internet, too.

  • Palmina Pagano

    not my bestfriend but for sure one of the best person I’ve ever met in my life. alba is an amazing, fantastic, great mexican girl I met in holland during my aupair summer there. every chat is always amazing and when I have a probl or something, just ask her. for sure being internet addicted in this era is not always a good thing, but for sure internet had allowed us a great way to meet someone, maybe on the other half od the world or universe, that we never could without

  • Diana Morales

    I can totally relate to this story! I recently met a friend on the internet (also on Tumblr). At first it was weird because I didn’t know her but we did like the same bands, tv shows, and have similar opinions. But now we even have started sending gifts and such for each others’ birthdays and we talk to each other about problems and general stuff. I think I would like to meet her one day although that involves traveling across the country. Great story!

  • Gaby Montaño

    I’ve yet to meet her irl but we will someday. She’s seriously my best friend ever, we’re even making plans to move in together in a few years. I mean if these people are getting married with other people they met online & only known for a year or two, why can’t I move in with my friend of 5 years?! And no, we’re not lesbians either. Your soulmate doesn’t necessarily have to be a romantic partner.

  • Monny Floresw

    I have so similar story, I met my best friend online too on a Pretty Little Liars fan page :) and yes she is as my soul sister too! She is from Czech Republic and me from Mexico, last summer we met and our metting was so similar as your video 😀 😀 was awesome and I will never forget :¨) I cant wait to see her again next summer, I am counting days, we we have written for 2 years everyday, and even sometimes distance is so sad we have so strong friendship!!

  • Kristen Haynie

    This is a really cool story! I’m so happy for both of you to have found your soul sisters in such a neat way! Thanks for sharing this story, it’s truly heartwarming!

  • Kristina Swallow

    I relate to this article so much. About 2 and a half years ago a girl reviewed one of my fanfiction stories and I replied, because she’d answered a question I’d put in it and it started from there. We went from messaging each other on the site, to sending emails, to adding on facebook and to texting. She’s probably my closest friend and we talk almost everyday without fail. We haven’t met, but I live in Scotland and she lives in Northern Ireland so we are literally a cheap flight away. She’s one of the best people I’ve ever known :).

  • Lydia Weaver

    I can connect to this story so much! I met my best friend through a Club Penguin Xat chatroom over five years ago through a mutual friend we had, and we’ve followed each other to YouTube, deviantART, and now tumblr! She lives in Michigan and I in Ohio, and the state rivalry means nothing to us. We feel like we’re just sisters born in the wrong place, and we plan to meet one day when we’re older. We try to Skype everyday. Hopefully soon we’ll be able to exchange phone numbers, as her parents are still really protective of her information.

  • Soyeon Lee

    What a cute story :) I want to meet my best friend through internet! I’ve always wanted to make great pen pal.

  • Lauren Abell

    I met a best friend through the internet, and another via FB/text/mutual friend. And my boyfriend. All my best matches.

  • Lynn

    I love Internet friends.

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