I'm trying to keep my business, my triplets, and my waistline under control. I excel at one of those, fail at another one of those, and one is a work in progress. Which is which is day dependant.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Online Relationships

Remember a few weeks ago, I told you about my employee and her exploits in online dating/sex/chatting? Since then she's regaled me with tales of all her new adventures, and it has got me thinking about online relationships in general.

DH and I met online - but at a time when it wasn't as prevalent as it is today, and email was not as 24/7 accessible. So while we met online, it was only a day or so before we spoke on the phone and then went on dates. We didn't have the experience of 'dating' first online, it was very much just a way of making an initial connection. However, I've made loads and loads of online female friends (through various IVF/parenting/blogging forums) and so I know all about how intense it can all be. The amazing thing is how well you can get to know someone - or think you know them - without ever setting eyes on them. I'd venture to say that the closeness comes BECAUSE you cannot or have not set eyes on them. Not having to see that person face-to-face, not being part of their mundane daily life tasks, and being able to almost 'hide' behind computers and phones and facebook makes relationships that much more intense. In our own minds we build up a picture of that person (even if we know what they look like) and the relationship becomes pretty full-on before we even realise it has.

I have various online friends who know more about me on a very personal level than my family does, or my real life friends do. It's as though the social rules of 'things you don't share with friends' disappear altogether when it comes to an online relationship, even when that relationship is just a platonic one (as opposed to online relationships which grow into actual love relationships.) The interesting things is that I've been lucky enough to meet several of my online mates...and the relationship does not always work as well in real life. In many cases we met and then the relationship just fizzled out altogether, mostly because the public meeting was just all too awkward. Almost like that old saying, "You can't go back to just holding hands." In some cases we met and then quickly realised it worked better online, so while we might be in the same city there is never an expectation that we will spend any face time together. Then, of course, there are the cases where it works well in real life and online, and then it's all good and happy and we all walk into the proverbial sunset together.

Someone I spoke to recently said that they don't feel they really know someone until they have seen them face-to-face, looked into their eyes, and got a kinaesthetic feel for who that person is. I actually found that really strange, especially given the increasingly non-face-to-face world in which we currently live. Among my online friends, there are none who I would say I don't know well just because I have not actually seen them in real life. I'm just not convinced that the actual meeting part equates to how well you know someone. I don't think you suddenly know someone well just because you've seen them. It's an interesting idea, though - that for some people, touch is knowing a person's true self; where talking, texting, emailing, secret sharing and baring one's soul is not enough without the touch part.

Since most of you who read this, I've never met...tell me this: how well do you think know me? or how well do you know your other online friends? Can we ever really know someone without meeting them?


M.B. said...

Online and IRL are definitely different in some cases, but in others, I think if you are both sincere in your interactions online, can lead to getting on swimmingly IRL.

I don't pretend to know you on an intimate platonic level, I only know what you share online and I certainly feel you keep it at a safe level for you and your readers.

I know of people who have had online "romances" and they turned out to be disasters, but only because one or both of them were not honest about who they were/how they felt about the other.

I've recently been betrayed by someone I had known over twenty years, so heartache can come from any relationship/friendship. I just have to learn to listen to my gut when it tells me someone is trouble!

And for the record, you've never tipped my creep factor radar.

kazari said...

i don't know. but i feel like i've become friends with people online, anyway.

i think its easier to become friends online than say, people you play netball with. but i tend to be more shy in real life, i think

Danielle said...

Hmmmm...intersting topic!
There is so much of you I don't understand. Your faith, life with triplets (although I wish everyday I did understand this one!), how you actually ENJOY living in those southern states. But this makes you all that much more interesting to me! Despite the differences, we are very alike in personality (both nutters), and I think if we were to meet IRL, we would get on like a house on fire. And perhaps you could take me to a "Jewish Church" (see? I don't even know what a Jewish Church is called! It's a synagon isn't it?) to teach me a thing or two!