Online relationships

It’s not such a common thing that I type in the blog title before I get around to writing the post, but I intend to keep this specific. Lets see…

There has been some discussion around ‘Guys and gals… just friends?’ over on Gush and someone mentioned/tangented to a query about guy she ‘likes’ but has only ever had contact with online.

Very early on in my msn days (which is the only chat thing I’ve ever really used) I made the descision to not ever build a relationship (not talking about ‘friendship’) over the very imperfect IM communication means. A couple of reasons, the biggest being that people communicate differently in person.

I do my utmost best to be honest and within my personality when talking to people (mainly who come through gush related activities) online – yet its a totally different field to when it comes to relating in person.

I know perfectly that I usually communicate better when I’ve had time to think things through. I have joked in the past that my fingers do the talking (on my poor overworked keyboard, not through hand expressions – although I’ve been known to get carried away with that too ha). Due to my absoultely terrible aural awareness ie: I have trouble when it’s just hearing something, I need to see (one of the reasons why I don’t like phones because it takes SO much concentration). I like msn as a means of a communication in that I find it easy to work with, I also realise how horrible and inefficent it can be.

I’ve met more people than most whom I initially met online and there is this strange tension of familiarity (sometimes over familiarity) and the knowledge that you really have no clue about this person. I find that you’ve often communicated on a reasonably deep level but have utterly missed the ‘get to know you’ phase – at least in the way it works normally. It is no small consequence that we must wade the stinking waters of small talk (nb. sarcasm) before we often hit more intense areas.

There are still some people that I originally met online – and now know and have hung out with in person that I get really stuck in working out how to hmm. I guess show myself as me. They know me but don’t know me – vice versa.

So, despite all the potential awkwardness, I am not adverse to building friendships via online means – they are restrictive and incomplete but still doable, still can be important, still ‘a God thing’ (oh yeah), still friendships.

Relationships through the online are a totally different field. You shouldn’t go there.

You cannot truly love someone you’ve never met. You can be in love with the idea of them. You can be in love what they present, how they make you feel, what they input into your life questions (if it hits that point). But it’s not a good nor a safe ground to work on something that you intend to last.

I don’t think it’s impossible that something might be able to eventuate after you get to know this person OFFline. Personally when it really comes down to it, I’d rather not. It means the potential of merging two completely different worlds (unless they happen to be someone a lot closer than you first thought) with very little in common except a computer, a lot of spare evening time – or time you don’t have.

The whole matter of me wanting to be really good freinds with someone before I go to the relationship thing I guess is part of it.

I am in no way discrediting some of you who I happened to first meet online, because to tell the truth there are a number of you whom I now count among the people I value the most.

I simply do not think it is wise to pursue a feeling that has no proper grounding – however much time you’ve ‘spent together’ (time not in the same room) – it’s a huge farce.

The curious thing about my offline friendships – those who never came through the internet. I often find it quite difficult to ‘converse’ with them online (not all but many).

I appreciate the face to face far more.

The other ‘stopping’ factors in pursuing a relationship online.
>Safety – self explanatory
>You don’t get to see them – not to be superficial or anything but you can’t expect to marry someone who you aren’t attracted to, it would make things VERY awkward
>Distance – Yeh you might want to pursue the long distance thing, again I’d rather not there’s the whole having to learn to ‘relate to eachother’ again and the fact that someone’s got to completely change locations eventually. I’ll leave the likes of this to Laura 😉 *NB. this relationship did not start online – but is the ‘distance thing’ which is all cool.
>It’s just stupid, trivial, shallow, meaningless and self-focussed.

Just don’t consider it…

it also saves us who happen to be modding forums from dealing with ridiculous, gag worthy, flirt spam. “Who want’s to deal with it this time?”

(by the way, letters are more romantic then emails and who’s going to give out their address to someone they’ve never met… okay so maybe too many people do that too)

12 Comments

  1. Beth said:

    Nicely said.
    “Just don’t consider it”..this should be put in the terms of agreement in instant messaging! hehe.
    I so relate to what you said with finding it difficult to converse with people on msn that you know from real life. AND I relate with often being able to express myself better on msn.
    However…same thing goes I guess. There’s just nothing better than sitting down with a person face to face and having a heart to heart, or just a conversation full of nothingness 🙂
    I hope you don’t mind me reading your blog : considering I didn’t actually get the addy off you! Just let me know if you’d rather I didnt. I won’t take it personally!

    June 1, 2006
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  2. said:

    Beth, you have my fullest permission to read! thank you for all these comments too 😉

    June 1, 2006
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  3. said:

    I agree with what you wrote on this topic.

    It is potentially dangerous to start a relationship without meeting the person face to face.

    June 1, 2006
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  4. said:

    “guy she ‘likes’ but has only ever had contact with online”

    I’m glad you put the quotes around ‘likes’.

    It’s just impossible. Online communication, as you’ve said, is so contrived. But the ‘likes’ thing…

    It’s so easy to make someone feel good or bad about themself in the online context just by meeting their expectancy. IM particularly works with such black and white modes of expression. If you want to make someone feel nice, type a colon followed by a right-bracket and they’ll feel better.

    If you want to make a teenage girl fall in love with you (not that I’ve ever tried it), send them the red rose one. It’s pretty easy to be cool and calculated if you really wanted to.

    Add to that, some of the extremely interesting developmental theory that I’ve been looking at in my youth ministry subject at college. Piaget and Fowler are two names that come to mind. There is a cognitive developmental theory that floats around which refers to “symbolic function”. It basically asserts that within a varying period from the ages of about 11-16, a young person will not divorce a symbol from its meaning. This phenomenon of psychological development probably explains why early adolesents particularly tend to spam up their usernames with emoticons.

    Also relevant, is their “Form of World Coherence” which suggests that early adolescents accept or reject beliefs as absolutes rather than critically analysing parts of them in order to differentiate them from the whole. They embrace a system of belief and ally themselves with it without question. This is also suggested as a great reason why adolescents are attracted to the charisma of a public figure, often without entertaining any skepticism of their integrity, particularly in the absence of different values in their immediate relationship network.

    June 2, 2006
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  5. said:

    I have a few things to say.

    As you know I met Hamish via online means. It was likely I would meet him in my embark to Melbourne where I would meet other gushers (one being you). I know that day was a bit strange for all of us there.

    But I must clarify, I did NOT have any intention of having a relationship by meeting him. Sure, we had a few d & ms online, and you knew what was happening in my life at that time.

    I dont encourage online dating. (Ironic?) I think that you really do need to meet the person before you can make a fair judgment. You may end up hurting yourself and somebody else.

    As for the distance factor. When Mish and I started there were at least 6 hours between us. I was then blessed by moving to Bendigo, making it 2 hours. For one person, distance is a problem, and for another, they are fine with it. Im both of them. I trust Hamish being so far away, yet I feel miserable because I cant see him often. I see him usually nearly every fourtnight. So I guess it is not such a big issue. I think that distance can sometimes work out good. I think of it like living in Pinnaroo. I couldnt go to the movies or eat maccas every day, but when I could it was a real treat. The same goes for relationships with a distance. Its great when you DO see them. But then its what distance is for you. Is distance the other side of the city? Is distance just not walking distance without a car? IS it overseas?

    A friend of mine had an online girlfriend for 3 years. She lived in america, he lives here in australia. He was lucky enough to meet her for the first time over summer. They fell even more in love and now he is MOVING there in a few weeks to go to her uni. I personally would not choose this lifestyle, but you must admit, it’s somewhat romantic.

    As screwed up as things were back then, everything is much better now. Things didnt start well, but that doesnt mean there isnt room for improvement!

    I think I have written enough
    ~ Sammy
    dpprvjfr

    June 2, 2006
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  6. said:

    yes sammy 🙂

    having ‘known’ mish before you… I certainly do know that story. Oh my that was an interesting day. hahaha.

    the distance thing is not ‘bad’ as such just an ‘unnecessary evil’ in my eyes – but hey that could come and bite me on the bum some day. 😛

    I never said they couldn’t work. Just that I don’t recommend them and its definitely not the way I’d want to go about things.

    June 2, 2006
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  7. said:

    They can work. I’ve been there and done that. Not something I go around blatantly advertising, but it is something that is a part of my history. Yes, they can work. The relationship was never official while it was only online, but pretty much as soon as we met and realised that we had been honest about what/how we shared about ourselves, it did become so.

    So here’s the interesting thing. Would I do it again? No, probably not. Am I totally opposed to it? Again, no…probably not. A friend of mine did meet his bride online, and they were separated by the entirety of the Pacific. I;ve seen it work. Mine worked for a good deal of months, too. And I’m nowhere near as downright rejecting of the whole concept as Paul is. But we often clash on such matters.

    As for the friendship side of things. I’ve met some 60-70-odd people off Gush. A lot of those have gone on to be some rather good friends of mine, be it online or offline, or both. There is nothing that beats face to face. In fact, there’s nothing that beats face to face with someone you love. But the internet does have its place for plugging up those times post-midnight when people are sooks and don’t come out.

    June 2, 2006
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  8. said:

    whatever 😛

    (Mr. I’ve stood bec up at least twice now)

    June 2, 2006
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  9. said:

    i know the phonomena of getting a crush on someone online. perhaps because the conversations that you have are often more personal and deep, than would happen in real life. the situation is more intense, and you are both able to be more open and honest.
    however, my (the) conception of a person online is all you are getting attracted to, and until you meet in person and start forming a relationship (read: friendship) then, your idea of who they are will most likey not be completely true.

    oh, and excuse me, but i have, not only given out my address to people i have never met, but also have written letters to various people i have never met…!

    and its very well for you to say dont go there, but i know one or two people who have gotten “internet crushes” on someone, met them in real life, and discovered the real life person is even more amazing and have fallen in love.

    ps, this is from one such said person:

    “as an aside, there are a few things that must be present in a good ‘online’/’long-distance’ relationship
    1. you have to have known them/met them ‘IRL'(in real life) before commiting to the relationship.
    2. You have to be prepared to trust the other person a vast amount… and be trustworthy in yourself.
    3. you have to have a plan for the future that doesn’t involve internets.”

    June 2, 2006
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  10. said:

    Hey Bec, I do love you as my twin sister but some times get just a tad frustrated when you mention me in your blog -I’d like a little bit more context put around your comments especially ones that are so loaded as this post….ie explain a little – in other words “my sister Laura’s boyfriend is in America, Oh and they didn’t meet on line” 🙂 Just so you know the link you put in to me is wrong…it’s http://accoucheur.blogspot.com/ You left out the last ‘u’ in accoucheur – an easy thing to do.

    June 2, 2006
    Reply
  11. said:

    Larue…I was working off the assumption that the majority of people who read this would a) click the link b) know… as I got the link wrong thats a slight problem.
    For the rest of you. Laura did not meet her mr. wonderful online, but in person. key thing here: Long Distance Relationship. I don’t envy her position.

    Burks. twice!!! you were going to come visit me at work one day (mbo work) and you didn’t, and the other one you well know was the other day. I don’t mind that much 😛 but the facts should be straight.

    Sam… thought you might say something about letters 😛

    June 2, 2006
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