How does one tell if a long distance relationship is real and sincere?

With the internet as the only means of contact and communication I am puzzled by people who profess their love without physically meeting. What gives here? Are men and woman prey to the advances of their own emotions and each other or are the hunters looking for something else?

1. Ask the important questions at the onset, to make sure you are both clear on the parameters of the relationship. Setting parameters such as naming your relationship ( dating, seeing each other, boyfriend/girlfriend, engaged)as well defining exclusive(limited to one person,) non exclusive. These can be difficult and awkward questions to ask, but will save you great heartache and misunderstanding down the line. Example: "Are you open to the possibility of relocating if the relationship should become more serious?"or "What are you looking to get out of the relationship?". Stating your end goal or ideas will allow each person to maintain what they need.
2. Communicate in some way every day, more than once if possible. Since you won’t be seeing each other, it’s important to establish and maintain an emotional connection. These don’t always have to be long, in-depth conversations. Tell each other about your little triumphs and tragedies. Ask for advice. Use an instant messenger program or VoIP for real-time chat, or web cams for that visual connection. E-mail is great so make sure you use it, especially if long-distance phone calls put a strain on your budget. Remember that e-mail and even instant messengers can increase the possibility of misunderstandings. Write love letters. Send small gifts or flowers for no reason. In this case, quantity is as important as quality. You may discover an advantage over others whose partner is close at hand – you don’t take communication for granted!
3. Do things together. Defy the distance. As a long distance couple, it’s important to do other things together besides the usual phone call. In a long distance relationship, interaction over the phone can become dull in the long run. Incorporating other forms of interaction are important. Just think… people in short-distance relationships do not spend the majority of their time talking, but rather doing things with each other. Try to replicate this by finding things to do together such as watching a TV show or movie simultaneously. For an extensive list of more things you can do with each other (or for each other) click here: Over 60 Activities for LDR Couples to Do!
4. Take advantage of the benefits a long distance relationship offers: more time with friends and/or family, no arguments over toothpaste caps, the pleasure of seeing your sweetheart again after a long absence, time to mull your options (rather than snapping at your partner impulsively) before you respond to that email s/he wrote that seemed so rude the first time you read it, etc. Most important, being far apart gives you a chance to maintain your individuality – something that can get lost in the shuffle when couples spend all their free time together.
5. Pursue common interests, even if it means pursuing them apart. If there’s a movie you’re both interested in seeing, watch it individually and then call each other afterward and talk about it. Read a certain book at the same time. Stargaze while you’re on the phone. Set your watches to go off at the same time every day, and synchronize your alarm with that of your partner. Make it a point to think of each other when your watch goes off, and revel in the fact that he or she is thinking about you, too. Find creative ways to bond.
6. Avoid the temptation to be controlling. People have free will and no one can or should control another person. As long as you are both interested in being in the relationship, you will stick with it and distance will not make a difference. As soon as one of you decides the other is not a good match – or someone else is a better match – your relationship ends, whether you live 3000 miles apart, two streets over, or share the same bed with your wedding picture on the wall. You are going to have to trust each other completely if this relationship is going to work.
7. Talk about your future together. Assuming that ultimately you’d want to live together, discussing how you’re going to get to that point will help you prove to each other that the relationship is going somewhere and that your efforts and frustrations are not in vain.
8. Know when to say good-bye. While this is tough in any relationship, this can be especially hard over long distances. When communication becomes one-sided or sparse for too long and for no apparent reason, when arguments (yes, you’ll have them) become too frequent, when the whole thing just seems like more trouble than it’s worth, it’s time to re-evaluate the relationship. You have to remember that for a healthy relationship, no matter how far or close, you must be willing to let go.
9. Remember: things will get better with time, and even the relationship will become better. Have hope.
10. Visit often Try to make the time to visit each other as often as possible or as often as your budget permits you to. A relationship cannot thrive if the only thing you have is the phone calls. You need to see each other up close and person