How close that image is to reality depends on how much the other person is present as themselves (rather than putting their best foot forward), how observant you are, and how firmly your feet remain attached to the ground even when in love.
I’ve been in both realistic and unrealistic LDRs where I had not met the person.
There are tons of questions that must be answered to make sure the meetup goes smoothly.
Q: Is it realistic to hold out hope for a long-distance online relationship in which we've never met in person or am I simply avoiding reality?
Is it weird he calls me his gf even though we've never met? It’s impossible to say from the outside, and it’s very difficult to assess from the inside as well.
The first one happened when I was quite young, and had not learned to listen to those small inner voices that tell me when something feels off — and I also didn’t have the experience to know which of those voices are ground in reason, and which are just expressions of insecurity and fear. He came all the way from the US to Europe to — ostensibly — visit, but in fact he came to stay, with left to his name, and he attached himself to me like a lamprey.
He was nothing like what I had imagined; what had sounded like a wee bit overly romantic (considering all the bad poetry he was writing) turned into a nightmarish stalker situation.
But to meet them online in the first place, you must put yourself out there and start contacting potential partners.