I wouldn't recommend the Internet spawned relationships. I've had my share of those, and they never seem to work they way I'd like. Then again others have made it work... so who knows. If you have to, I would use it as last resort.
I met my first real girlfriend on AOL Instant Messanger.. I wasn't looking and neither was she... it was after we became friends that we started liking each other..
I didn't really want to have a long distance thing but I dunno.. I told her she had to come here or I'm not going to bother..
It was really nice .. while she was here She ended up moving back home after about 6 months (came from Talahassee to Fort Lauderdale, FL).. I still love her and whatnot but she's not ready to be on her own from her parents I don't think.. (she gets sick often and just needs her parents around for certain things).. also lived in a really crappy (read: ghetto) area.. so.. but yeah. It was successful. she reads these forums too sometimes
I have a few friends from online that have made it work, but they are the very few that do. I have seen a lot more go meet and then break up. Online you can be anyone and anything you want to be. There's a lot of user's out they're looking for someone to prey upon. I had a friend a few years back that lost a lot of money from a person that used her.
I have seen it go both ways and I know from personal experience it hurts the same if it does not work. If someone is going to try this all I can say is be very careful. If you do decide to meet them, do it in a very public place. If I were a female I would take alone a friend or family member. I would also tell a friend or family member where I was and set up calling schedule as a safety net if I was going to go meet them.
I went to help out a friend I had known several years online and it was a disaster. I have learned my lesson.
I have met several friends from online and they are seldom like you expect.