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"Three thousand five hundred miles away; but what would you change, if you could?"

By harb in Culture
Wed Nov 29, 2000 at 10:17:06 AM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)

I've been noticing an interesting (at least to me, or else I wouldn't be writing this) trend on the rise lately. Read 'lately' as over the past several years. Instead of skirting around it, or getting all metaphysical-like, I'll just jump straight into what I'm talking about: internet relationships.

I suppose I should go into some detail one why this is on my mind. About three years ago, I started a two-year long 'net relationship with someone about, oh 2.5k miles east (hence the Counting Crows subject) of me. It was, from my admittedly fledgling perspective, very good stuff. About a year ago, lots of changes were going on in both our lives, and it faded. A bit after that, I got into it with another girl, this time meatspace. Basically, without going into too much stupifyingly boring detail, physical stuff completely got in the way of any real relationship that might have been possible.

Now I find myself often thinking about how much better I felt with the other girl. IE: the one I'd never met. Before this turns into a "Let's psychoanalyze the harble", let me explain that I'm a pretty typical geek. Kept to myself in high school, didn't really socialize overly much. So it's obvious that I'm more comfortable when I'm not having to deal with stuff face-to-face. Only, see, I'm all about dealing with stuff face-to-face. Psychologically (I've taken quite a few classes, and for the last two years of high school was intent on becoming a forensic psychologist), I'm relatively stable. I don't do drugs, or drink; I prefer to deal with my emotions head-on from a logical standpoint. Burying them if required, but we all do that. So I'm not completely wacky or out there.

But enough about me.

A very good friend of mine (and also one of the most unique souls you're likely to meet) recently got married to a girl he met online roughly six years ago. Only in the last year or two had he taken any trips to Canada (for anyone interested: importing a Canadian bride is a huge pain in the ass, but possible), but obviously everything worked out ok, because they're now happily married. Wed on the shores of Lake Ontario, no less.

Now that I've laid all the groundwork and explained why I'm thinking about all this, here are my questions:

Firstly, as I'm most definitely not talking about AOL-style "d00d, i just met dis awesome chick! she iz a modle, her name iz jenny-1024", will this trend continue and become an acceptable form of meeting people? Considering that, as my friend RyanT once said that "Getting to know someone online is easier.. you get to figure out their brains before any physical shit gets in the way", and that I agree with him - to an extent - is this mode any better than a melting pot of dating and the current method of exploring someone else's personality?

There is obviously a high level of trust going on, whenever someone embarks on a thing like this. That's a completely personal thing, and not something I feel the need to expound upon.

Secondly, is the physical importance in relationships being delimited? I personally miss all the nifty physical stuff that goes along with being with someone; but as I mentioned earlier, I still feel that the previous, non-meatspace relationship was more satisfying on most levels. Contact needs to be there for any relationship to really progress: a couple could have an excellent mental framework established, yet still be completely incompatible on the physical level (thought: An OSI model of relationships? :).

Thirdly, what sort of effect will the Internet and a continued trend of romantic relationships do to the younger generation? I realize I'm probably going to be smacked for that one, considering I'm only 21 years old, but I look at my kid sister and her friends, who aren't technical people, but still manage to figure out how to chat online and use various IMs. Can a non-meatspace (Anyone have a better term for that? One that doesn't sound pathetic, preferably) really progress if the two parties don't actually understand the method of their interaction? Or is that a complete non-issue?

This question brings to mind the scene in "Snow Crash" (by Neal Stephenson) where Hiro enters the Street, and the couples are double-dating with their Avatars. Is this something that's going to become normal?

Finally, while I've thought about this from every single angle I can (and despite what some of the regulars in #kuro5hin might think, I can see a bit more farther than the closest head to chew on), I still can't decide whether or not it's healthy. I believe this to be a completely personal thing; I don't judge others and I'd prefer to not be judged.. but on the flip-side of that, I don't particularly care about what people think of me. But I'm talking about society's view on this subject. As such, what are the mental problems related to taking this course rather than dealing with the rat-race that is the dating scene?

On a side note, my original intention in writing this was to stipulate that I wasn't talking about people who go searching for online romance. I don't agree with it, but I also think that Video Dating and Dating Services are sort of tacky. I walked into this without really looking for it; same with my friend who's now married to his girl. However, attempting to control a conversation isn't something I want to do; I'm honestly curious in seeing what sort of comments this story pulls. To my mind, online relationships (term, please! :) have always held a stigmata, a dirty-little-secret sort of smell hung around them, or any conversation in which they were mentioned.

A Hollywood-generated example of this apparent embarassment would be from "Can't Hardly Wait", where the two nerds (I can't bring myself tocall them geeks) are on the roof, talking about how one didn't get to see his "girlfriend from the internet" because she was "on a photoshoot". The punchline, of course, was: "I guess that's the price you have to pay for dating Kristy Turlington." (And yes, I laughed too.)

In closing, I realize that there many rumors will spring up among the #kuro5hin kids regarding who this story is actually about.

To dispell those rumors, allow me to announce that yes, I do indeed wish to stick Inoshiro down my pants, and have every intention of doing so once I deal with Canadian customs (damnit! Importing Canadian brides should be easier!)

Again, I'm very interested in seeing what the community has to say about all my nonsense.


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"Three thousand five hundred miles away; but what would you change, if you could?" | 78 comments (75 topical, 3 editorial, 0 hidden)
Go for what is most comfortable... (2.80 / 5) (#2)
by slambo on Wed Nov 29, 2000 at 09:04:02 AM EST

I know a couple people who made romantic contacts over the internet; one of them married her online friend and is planning a move across the country because of it. I've seen too many good things happen from such correspondence, because many of the preferences that would get in the way of a real relationship have already been addressed online.

HOWEVER, do be exceptionally careful. It is frightfully easy to spoof an identity online to someone (ever hear of the cops who troll chatrooms disguised as 13-year-old girls to find predators?)

As with any relationship, take some time to really get to know the other person. You might get burned, but as with all other matters in this new borderless world, YMMV.
Sean Lamb
"A day without laughter is a day wasted." -- Groucho Marx
trolling as a fake 13 year old (3.50 / 2) (#6)
by Michael Leuchtenburg on Wed Nov 29, 2000 at 10:34:29 AM EST

More amusing to me than the cop almost-entrapment thing is when people do it so they can amuse themselves toying with the minds of pedophiles. See www.baiting.org for examples of what I'm talking about. It's truly hilarious. Particularly look at Sexbot, though that one isn't going after pedophiles, just amusing itself with people seeking cybersex.

[ #k5: dyfrgi ]
[ TINK5C ]
[ Parent ]
I'm divided on this issue (3.50 / 4) (#5)
by tweek on Wed Nov 29, 2000 at 10:08:15 AM EST

I've met many a friend from IRC although it was a geographic specfic channel (#atlanta, #atlantaga). As such, we hung out quite a bit and everyone knew everyone else really well. The best part was that people I probably wouldn't hang out with on a regular basis became good friends. The negative side to this is that most (and yes I *AM* making a broad generalization. It is intentional) of the people who use IRC for social contact are usually socially inept in certain areas of thier life. The majority of the people I knew did not have many friends outside of the IRC crowd. Maybe most of those people (including myself at the time) weren't getting the emotional interaction from real life that we all need. That's how we ended up with things like the EFNet sex chart (which I am on oddly enough).

But the point of that ramble is this: while IRC can foster friendships among people who wouldn't normally meet, it can also foster the some of the most unhealthy relationships ever. Let me explain. On IRC you can talk with someone for 4 hours straight and know more about them than you would know if you had been dating them for 2 years. People abuse the mask that IRC provides. Everything on IRC is done to the extreme. That's the problem when it all comes down to it.
I still hang out on IRC in #php and occasionally #atlantaga but the #atlantaga thing is just not the same. The old timers like myself are almost non existant. We've moved on to bigger and better things. We have lives and spouses or siggies (Significant Others) and friends and jobs and countless other things. Maybe I'm just getting old.

(if you do need php help tho, please feel free to check #php on efnet and look for pugsly formerly tweek formerly guyver)

Some people call me crazy but I prefer to think of myself as freelance lunatic.

Not easy to judge (3.33 / 6) (#7)
by seizer on Wed Nov 29, 2000 at 10:37:45 AM EST

I'd definitely agree with one aspect of this posting - online "romance" (or whatever) does get a lot of the personality stuff out of the way beforehand. Before long, you're going to know whether you are mentally compatible - although this is absolutely no guarantee that there is physical compatibility.

I'm in a somewhat similar situation to that described above - I talked with this girl on iRC for ~2 years, without any thought of romance (no, really, I am a believer in Platonic relationships, and don't laugh, you over-testosteroned teens :-). This summer, I happened to be passing through her corner of the world. It wasn't exactly love at first sight, but we really "clicked". I think that's due to the high level of emotional trust which we'd already established just through idle (and not so idle) chat over the years. It's a lot easier to give of yourself, when you have confidence that the other person really is who he or she is.

But now, of course, we're in this tricky situation of living far too far away (I don't want to say the number, it's just too depressing). At this level, I don't think a purely online relationship IS enough to fulfil me, and I don't think it's enough to properly fulfil anybody (even though it can be quite overwhelming for a while) - anybody who thinks otherwise is probably kidding themselves, or really doesn't know the meaning of love - this is open to debate, of course :-)

Annnyhow, I don't really know where I'm going here (hey, peeps, this is my first post on K5 - the lurk is over). I'd just like to voice my opinion that online romance shouldn't have the stigma that some people attach to it.

Ye Gods (4.07 / 14) (#8)
by dzimmerm on Wed Nov 29, 2000 at 10:45:53 AM EST

Can anyone see that the strictly mental interactions that occur when people meet in cyberspace are almost identical to the late 1800's and early 1900's style of social interaction?

Now days it is difficult for people who do not drink, smoke, do drugs, or have sex to meet. Societies current practices punish those individuals who value themselves. Putting your body and soul into danger to meet someone is the choice that our current society gives us.

Now enter cyberspace. Choices abound. The ability to learn someone's psyche before meeting his or her body is easily done. We are back to mental knowledge of one another before a physical relationship is done. We have actually given a haven for those of us who value character and intelligence over big body parts.

I met my wife over CompuServe’s CB Channel in 1986. We found ourselves so compatible that she gave me her phone number and we talked for over 7 hours straight. If we had not been in the same town, (now that was fate), we would most likely have continued along this vein for many weeks. Because we found we lived only about 10 miles away from each other we met in "meatspace" and have been together ever since. I would not have even given her the time of day if I had met her on the street. It was the ability to get to know someone before meeting him or her that allowed us to have a stable relationship later. I think most would agree that being together for 14 years is a fairly stable relationship.

I think this is all about choices. The Internet gives us more choice in how we interact with anyone that we meet. Those choices were available in earlier years by well-policed parties and social gatherings. The are now available to the seekers of today via the Internet.

But what about those that hide their identities on the web? Those people are in the very small minority. We hear about cases of such things only because the press loves to sensationalize the news. How exiting would it be if the press said something along the lines of, "1 million people meet via internet with no loss of life" it would not sell as well as "Deranged person takes life of person met over internet". We do not see as much press coverage of the 1000's of people who are killed or wounded while attending bars, nightclubs, or Rave dances. Do not let the press blind you to reality.

I hope you liked my rant.



interesting. (2.85 / 7) (#10)
by harb on Wed Nov 29, 2000 at 10:55:47 AM EST

I hadn't even considered a comparison between the 'net and 1800/1900's style social interaction. While there are some serious differences, I sort of like that analogy.

And the line between real life issues with meeting people and the same online was something I was hoping people would discuss.

I've yet to meet anyone who's been killed because of the Internet. ;)

I'd hope there's more people like you and your wife.. might make me grow some balls. =)


[ Parent ]

Stupid OT comment (none / 0) (#55)
by FunkyChild on Thu Nov 30, 2000 at 02:45:12 AM EST

I've yet to meet anyone who's been killed because of the Internet. ;)

Yeah? Well, I've yet to meet anyone who's been killed for any reason!


-- Today is the tomorrow that you worried about yesterday. And now, you know why.
[ Parent ]
Compuserve CB! (none / 0) (#63)
by rusty on Thu Nov 30, 2000 at 12:41:38 PM EST

CB on Compuserve was my first introduction to the joys of online communication. I completely forget what handles I used, but it's good to know that I'm not the only one. :-)

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
Relationships and communicating online (3.00 / 6) (#9)
by Michael Leuchtenburg on Wed Nov 29, 2000 at 10:51:46 AM EST

I met Caroline in meatspace (or meetspace? ew, that has buzzword possibility). We met last October, started "dating" (not really trad dating) in January. However, I don't get much chance to see her, of late. She's a senior in high school (I graduated last year and am taking a year off from school, working), and doesn't get home until 17ish. So weekdays are out. I get to see her weekends, but I wouldn't want to communicate with her only then. Yeck.

So, we chat online. Mainly AIM, though I'm trying to get her on IRC. She hates the phone, y'see. So it's face-to-face or online, for the most part, unless there's something I need to get an answer to now, like "Are you joining us for Rocky" when we're leaving in 5 minutes.

There's the background. My perspective on the situation is a bit different than meeting someone online, as you can see.

I feel that talking online can sometimes make things that are hard to talk about easier. Sometimes. It helps a lot less with people I know in RL too (is online not RL? I often use that distinction), however. I, for one, often have trouble communicating (with anyone in any way) for fear of rejection (made it hard to find a job, too). Sometimes talking online helps with that, since there's less pressure to speak right away and the other person can't see you being uncomfortable.

As to dating people you met online, sure, why not? It's just another method of communication. It has its ups and downs, but it's a lot better than personals ads IMO.

And the "melting pot" of traditional dating? I don't think I could date someone without being friends with them first. Well, I could, but I wouldn't want to. I have to be friends with a SO. IRC can provide a similar atmosphere to a party to meet and chat with someone, and get to know them, and become friends, w/o looking for the physical side that seems to dominate so many people on the dating scene's minds.

Meeting people online can be particularly good if you have specific requirements. For instance, you're looking for a BDSM play partner, or you're poly and (obviously) need someone who understands that. Some cities have appropriate venues to meet people in p-space; many don't (Boston, f'ex, is puritanical enough to make it hard to find other people in the BDSM scene). If you're in SF, you can be open about your search; in Columbus OH, you probably have to hide a bit more.

[ #k5: dyfrgi ]
[ TINK5C ]

Cool! A story about me! ;) (3.75 / 8) (#11)
by sab39 on Wed Nov 29, 2000 at 10:58:40 AM EST

Well, it looks like I may be the first poster here to have actually married based on an online relationship. I wish I had time to post a full response to this story, because it is a very interesting topic and (obviously) close to my heart, but I don't, so instead I'll just throw out a few fragmented thoughts and facts coming from my situation...

- My second wedding anniversary is in December, and I've never been happier. We "dated" online for about a year, spent a year after that flying back and forth transatlantically to spend time together (in total we spent ~5 months together in person over the course of that year) before deciding to get married.

- I had two online "relationships" prior to the one that resulted in my marriage; I only ever had one "relationship" based on meeting IRL (funny how the TLAs come back to you...) I guess this definitely puts me in the category of people who don't get the usual level of emotional interaction in meatspace. I never felt that I particularly "suffered" from this - I know that in ways I lack emotional maturity, but I don't feel that I am a particularly worse person, and definitely not that I am less happy, as a result.

- We met on a "talker" service, which is like a MUD but without the gaming aspect. These places didn't seem to be mostly about finding online romance, although most people I knew on there did seem to eventually get involved with someone online. I had been visiting these things for about a year before hooking up with my wife, and found them to be quite addictive. However, I noticed that over the course of the few years that I used them, the "talking" aspect became less and less appealing to me - for the last year or so that we were apart I really only used them to talk to my wife (I'll refer to her as that because it's easier, despite the fact that she wasn't my wife at the time). OTOH, this didn't seem to happen for her to the same extent, and she still uses talkers on a fairly regular basis even now.

- I know of a few net relationships that have worked out, but I know of many, many that didn't. In particular, I know of one instance of the case that the story mentions - two people who were extremely compatible mentally and had great fun together, until they exchanged photos and found out that neither was attracted to the other at all.

- I also, during one of my previous net relationships, met the person IRL. It ended up being a horrible mess - about as horrible a mess as anything I've ever experienced. My parents blamed that on the online aspect, of course... personally I blame it on my own naivete and the fact that the person I was visiting wasn't at all as nice a person as she led me to believe she was.

I don't know whether this post is interesting at all, but it's definitely a few data points. My conclusion is more or less the same as the original poster's: Online relationships can work, but going out looking for them is as pathetic as hanging around bars IRL or using video dating services. Also, they are just as likely to go bad as real life relationships, if not more so (at least, there are a whole lot of imaginatively new ways that they can go bad ;) ). My advice to anyone who is considering entering into such a relationship is to approach it in the same way you would a real life relationship - don't go out trolling for it, but if it happens, don't rule it out just because it's online. And I'd also echo comments that you should really work at knowing who the person you are "dating" really is... no need to be hyper-suspicious (a surprisingly large proportion of people are honest) but try not to ignore any signs that are there.

"Forty-two" -- Deep Thought
"Quinze" -- Amélie

Small world (none / 0) (#58)
by pw201 on Thu Nov 30, 2000 at 08:15:10 AM EST

Ah yes, I remember. It'd be something like:

tickle:pw201$ w
23:00 up 3 days, 4 users, load average: 0.5, 0.5, 0.5
User       tty       from          login@    idle     what
sab39      ttyp0     somewhere.cam 09:00              tinyfugue

(may have got the name of the talker thing wrong). Glad to see it paid off in the end :-)

[ Parent ]

LOL (none / 0) (#78)
by sab39 on Mon Dec 04, 2000 at 01:02:23 PM EST

Small world indeed. Seems we even both made the same decision about how to generate our usernames on sites outside of cam.ac.uk :)

"Forty-two" -- Deep Thought
"Quinze" -- Amélie

[ Parent ]
Master of the One-Handed Keyboarding Technique (3.50 / 10) (#12)
by spaceghoti on Wed Nov 29, 2000 at 11:04:28 AM EST

I have two thoughts that ought to sum up the whole of this conversation. The first thought is that imagination will always beat out reality any day of the week. Why would a virtual relationship feel more satisfying than a meatspace relationship? Because with the meatspace relationship you see what the other person looks like, you hear them, you interact with them and you can't escape the reality of who they are and what they're like. The physical gratification of meatspace contact can't be denied, but relationships are a meeting of minds as well as bodies. Which brings us to the joys of virtual relationships. In a virtual relationship, you are who you portray yourself to be. If you want to be dark, mysterious and knowledgeable, you can be. You don't have body language getting in the way. If you're a reasonably competent typist, the ability to type whole words and sentences as seen in the Oxford Dictionary makes a huge impression. You can talk about literally anything and be seen as open, honest and sensitive, even if the things you're talking about are things you would never say or do in person. So you paint a rather glorified image of yourself, and are receiving the same from the person on the other end. It's perfect because reality never gets in the way.

Then we come to my second thought. I'm getting married next year. Congratulations to me! I'm also getting married in Australia to my Aussie bride whom I met over the Internet. She came to the States on a tourist visa last March and we've been together in realspace ever since. So virtual meets meatspace. Is she as wonderful as she seemed over the Internet? To be perfectly honest and pragmatic, no. Then again, I seriously suspect that neither am I. But that doesn't mean that those things I admired and were attracted to in her aren't there in meatspace, it means that they're accompanied by all the other quirks and foibles that make her who she is. And I discovered that ancient truism that relationships are about compromise and accepting the people you love for who they are, not for who you want them to be. She isn't SexyHott823@hotmail.com (not her real email address; don't even think it), she's a real person with all the benefits and consequences that come with associating with real people.

I took a chance in meeting someone from around the world who could have ended up being a troll masquerading as a pixie. She could have been a gold-digger looking to pick up a free ride through life. And she could have been a homicidal maniac who could have focused her obsessions on me and felt the need to "punish" me if I didn't fit her conception of who I was supposed to be. There is real danger when moving virtual relationships into meatspace. The question is whether or not you can be mature about the whole thing, and whether or not you can accurately identify people who won't be mature about it. It's sort of like picking up people in singles bars: they may look good at first, but you never know what you get until you really spend time with them. I was patient, careful and was eventually rewarded. Your Mileage May Vary.

"Humor. It is a difficult concept. It is not logical." -Saavik, ST: Wrath of Khan

wow! (none / 0) (#41)
by cbatt on Wed Nov 29, 2000 at 05:22:20 PM EST

I couldn't say it better myself.

I just went through this exact same thing with my wife.

She's from Michigan, I'm from Alberta. We met via 'Net when I wasn't even looking. I decided to take a chance, and it's been like you described, ever since. Heck I even went through the thought process of "What if... she's a gold digger?", etc... Needless to say, it's all good.

Good luck with your relationship, but you have the right approach, so I guess luck has little to do with it.

Before you can understand recursion
you must understand recursion.

[ Parent ]

It can....and often does work..... (3.42 / 7) (#13)
by eye-d on Wed Nov 29, 2000 at 11:10:33 AM EST

When I first started chatting on IRC and such, I used to always laugh at people having so called "on-line" relationships, until that was, it happened to me. I didn't mean for it to happen, it just did. That was just about 18 months ago and everything is finally starting to work itself out.

The girl I met is in Sacramento, CA and I'm currently in Ireland, bout 6,000 miles away and 8 hours ahead. So not only is distance a problem but the time difference too. I usally get home from work about 7pm, sleep from say 9pm until 12am or so and get up to chat for an hour or so when she gets in from work and then back to bed. By the time I get up in the morning she needs to be heading off to bed, so even finding the time to talk is extreamly hard.

"But is it worth it?" I hear people ask. To me it is always worth it. I love this girl with all my heart, and even if our relationship began on-line, my love for her is real. I've been to Cali twice to see her and I'm off back there in 10 days time.

I don't know how, if we had of met in the "real" world first, it would change our relationship. But I don't think we would have got the chance to find out so much about each other and become as close as we did, as quick as we did.

As for the physical importance of relationships, I think that it is very important. The first time I hugged my girlfriend when we met, we wrapped our arms around each other and the way she held me just made me feel like no words could.

Internet relationships can and do work. A guy who I used to work with, met his wife on IRC about 5 years ago. They didn't meet for 2 years after they first talked, but now they are married nearly 2 years, with a 1 year old baby boy and another on the way. To me, this is proof that no matter what people say, Internet relationships can and do work.

A pre 'net success story... (3.42 / 7) (#14)
by Ricdude on Wed Nov 29, 2000 at 11:16:07 AM EST

My wife and I met over the phone about seven and a half years ago. We worked for different stores in a local pet store chain, and she called to talk to my boss, who then proceeded to set us up (completely a surprise to both of us). I was in the process of ending a relationship at the time, as was she, but a few times a week, we'd call each other and just talk for hours. We met in person after about a month of playing phone tag. Years rolled by and now, we're married.

I think we owe a lot of our success to taking a fair amount of time to get to know each other. Too many people these days go trolling for easy meat in bars, and wonder why their relationships don't turn out quite well. Part of our success I would also attribute to the "unseeking" aspect of our meeting. Neither of us was (initially) interested in picking up a significant other, and that put us both at ease when we talked with each other. We weren't out to impress each other, nor were we building unrealistic expectations of each other based on physical appearances, dress styles, or whatever. There was just that voice on the other end of the phone.

If we'd met over the 'net, I suspect that we would have had a similar outcome, though getting to the "meeting" stage would probably taken longer. Although, success in any relationship is a function of how each participant perceives that relationship. If each persons' expectations are met, the relationship is successful, regardless of the parameters of that relationship (RL, 'net, phone, pen-pal, whatever).

Stories (3.57 / 7) (#15)
by shirobara on Wed Nov 29, 2000 at 11:25:10 AM EST

I've been online for about five years now, and primarily spent the bulk of my time interacting with people through IRC, a couple of muds, ICQ and bulletin boards. I've probably met in person at least a dozen people from these various locales, but that's a whole different story.

I know how it is to say "well, we met on the Internet and..." to someone who doesn't understand, so I generally don't, unless the person really cares (or I'm among people of the same sort, like this seems to be running to). It's not quite socially acceptable yet. Probably in the next ten or twenty years it will be, at least to a little higher degree...

Me, I met my boyfriend two years ago (July 29, 1998. Boy, I'm not sentimental ^_^). I had a webpage that I had just started working on, and he was interested in it and e-mailed me about it. It just so happened that my family moved to his state - I had been wavering before, but that was my last reason for attending his college. Now we're just like any other couple around here, except we talk more on ICQ than on the phone. It's a little longer story than that, of course, but this is a post and I could ramble for hours...

I've also seen master manipulators at work. When I was heavily into IRC some five years back, there was another girl who frequented the channel I spent a lot of time on. Over the two or three years I was into that particular scene, I watched her get involved with maybe 30 people. Many of them my friends; many of them intelligent men. She had a talent for knowing just exactly how to get into someone, exactly how to get them interested in her. As I am not male, she wasn't interested in me, but I watched her at work often. It was scary. It was scarier still when she turned out to be male. I've never forgotten that and I never will.

...I could probably type for hours about this, but that would make for a long post and it would make me late for class.

A contrarian view (3.62 / 8) (#16)
by cronkite on Wed Nov 29, 2000 at 11:27:54 AM EST

I'm currently dating a girl who lives 800 miles away. We've been together for almost a year now, but before that we e-mailed every day for four and a half years. Often more than once a day. We met through Usenet, became friends quickly, but resolved very early on not to meet because there's a significant age difference between us (I'm 26; she's 19) and if we met in person, our intense consciousness of that age difference would have impeded the wonderful conversation we were having. Online, we could ignore it. One thing led to several, and she haunted me. I spent much of 1999 traveling around the world to escape how much I wanted her. We finally met in September 1999, and the age difference was an issue, but our love was too strong, and by January we gave in and did what we had been dreaming of for years. I can see y'all getting misty, so here's where it turns around. This sucks. I am a physical person with a physical life. I can have a friend online, a confidante, a kind word and an ear. But love, to me, means someone who I can hold, who I can share daily experiences with. I want to look into my lover's eyes and read her body language. I want to make her dinner. I want her to put her arms around me when fear overcomes me. A net connection cannot put its arms around me when fear overcomes me. A net connection cannot dance with me, laughing, by the riverbank in the sunset. A net connection cannot kiss me tenderly and let me know that mind, body, soul and spirit are one in two. A net connection rips those pieces apart, mind, body, soul, and sets them against each other and denying each other. We see each other once a month, and wish we were there for the rest of the month. I'm now considering leaving my friends, family, and everyone (else) i love to move to her city. It's an unattractive option but I can't come up with another. Because the Net just won't do. So we have suffered and we have struggled and we aren't very happy and we love each other very much. The Net is great for making friends. It's fabulous for making friends of the mind and of the soul. But love is where body and soul join, and the Net can do nothing for that.

Touching (2.50 / 2) (#19)
by jabber on Wed Nov 29, 2000 at 11:48:42 AM EST

But I don't know that you're that deeply in love - you would have moved there by now.

Or you have the same problem as I do. You over-think the consequences. You look at an irrational thing in a rational way. At 26 you are young enough to absorb the risk of things not working out and benefitting from the learning experience. (As I take notes on my own advice...) 19 is young. 19 thinks differently than 26. Does love fear change?

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
[ Parent ]

What K5 needs... (3.66 / 3) (#34)
by jabber on Wed Nov 29, 2000 at 01:58:54 PM EST

Is a way for people to kill their own duplicate posts.

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
[ Parent ]

Touching (2.66 / 3) (#20)
by jabber on Wed Nov 29, 2000 at 11:49:05 AM EST

But I don't know that you're that deeply in love - you would have moved there by now.

Or you have the same problem as I do. You over-think the consequences. You look at an irrational thing in a rational way. At 26 you are young enough to absorb the risk of things not working out and benefitting from the learning experience. (As I take notes on my own advice...) 19 is young. 19 thinks differently than 26. Does love fear change?

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
[ Parent ]

Past Experience (2.50 / 2) (#22)
by cronkite on Wed Nov 29, 2000 at 11:58:46 AM EST

To get into the nitty-gritty: I had a very bad past experience with moving to a city where I didn't have a strong social support system. I was lonely, desperate, and miserable for about two years (though my then-online friend, now my girlfriend, helped a lot.) So when I look at moving, I see a vast empty wasteland where I'd be solely dependent on her for human contact, and I want to be a strong, independent lover, not an emotional leech. Also, I'm in an unusual field where there aren't as many jobs available as tech :)

[ Parent ]
Totally understandable. (none / 0) (#33)
by jabber on Wed Nov 29, 2000 at 01:56:41 PM EST

And this probably goes hand in hand with "19 thinks differently than 26". Love, tempered with reason, is a profound thing. Logic and experience tend to take all the fun out of it though, don't they?

I've been with the same person for over 4 years. I had a previous relationship that lasted about that long, and I was sure was 'the one'. We talked cohabitation and marriage after College, but then it just dissolved. Very disorienting. Now, it's hard not to wait for the other shoe to drop... Definitely a source of reluctance.

Then again, love is just an electro-chemical hack on our emotions - natures way of attaching us to a member of the opposite sex long enough to propagate the species. And emotions are a side-effect of a complex brain. So fighting it tooth and nail, and holding off on diving in, is a good way to make love last. ;)

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
[ Parent ]

Beyond the point (3.00 / 2) (#26)
by nicnacs on Wed Nov 29, 2000 at 12:43:25 PM EST

My guy lives in Melbourne and I'm a lonely Canuk. After a year of online dating, I moved to Melbourne. 39 months later, we are back to a long distance relationship.

I found that success in long distance rels comes from giving yourselves goals and being willing to commit to a certain extent. I made a the move and lived in Australia. I couldn't stay there permanently but he could move here and that's what will happen. He'll be joinging me sometime in the next year.

It's a small sacrifice when you consider the benefits. Namely all that physical world and everything that comes with it. Changing countries, leaving friends and family behind, leaving family pets, and pesonal belongings. It may all seem like an awful lot when you aren't even sure the relationship can last, but it's much easier, less heart ache and much more rewarding than staying put.

So if you are in an long distance rel. - discuss taking the plunge and don't let things stand in your way. It's all worth it and then some.

[ Parent ]
Yeah, baby! 19! (2.33 / 3) (#42)
by Refrag on Wed Nov 29, 2000 at 05:23:09 PM EST

Sorry, I just had to say it...


Kuro5hin: ...and culture, from the trenches
[ Parent ]

Lots to think about - random thoughts (3.66 / 9) (#17)
by jabber on Wed Nov 29, 2000 at 11:32:55 AM EST

First, there is need for a clean term for 'online relationship. "Virtual" isn't good, since the relationship is very real... "Online" and "cyber" make it sound like you're into talking dirty with some obese middle-manager somewhere. Does there really need to be a special term? Is a technology-facilitated relationship that different from a face to face one? They're both person to person.

I don't know what precedent there is, but I'm sure relationships have been built on paper correspondence. "Penpal" doesn't exactly cover it, so what term applies there? "Friend" seems to work well in all cases.

How is meeting someone online different than meeting someone in a Church or work sponsored event? Both give you insight into some aspect of the other person. While building a relationship online guarantees you that your partner is somewhat into computers, or at least literate about them, it tells you little else - and that's where the relationship-building rises above the technology. Just as meeting someone at a Church or work function lets you know that they're into the same God or Company as you, but the person remains to be discovered. Not sure where that thought was going, but it seemed worth spouting.

The preference for long-term relationships might point to some issues with commitment and trust. I know that I have them, and I tend to be comfortable with distant relationships. I know you've disclaimed normalcy - but is there even such a thing outside of statistics? Geeks are notoriously introverted, and so an online relationships is comfortable because it's all on our terms.. "I don't mind telling you about my family... They're all ^$#$&)^^&&^ NO CARRIER". Also, an online relationship doesn't have the sense of immediacy that an IRL one does. You can think a while before replying to email. You can craft the wording. In person, you have no security buffer.

It's all just another technology. Letters, telephone, IRC, what's the difference? The traditional mode of building relationships in the world involves physical contact, and it always will. Technology always gets folded into the mixture, and it adds to the experience. Anyone know anything about the psychology of prison inmates who form letter-only bonds to women whom they marry upon release?

I guess if technology ever starts to separate us from each other to the point where physical proximity is an effort, this (online relationships) might become a normal process. We'd all telecommute to work, video conference with friends, get introduced to strangers and befriend them. Heh.. In days of olde when knights were bold and damsels were in distress... Lovers or noble birth rarely saw each other and corresponsed until their relationship was blessed by the parents. Then they married, moved to their own place on joint acreage, and lived happily ever after. Those relationships involved land deals, ours may involve the mergers of portfolios.. Looking at it in different perspectives, I have a hard time talling an online relationship from that of lovers at geographically separate Universities. Seeing each other is good, if it's convenient and what you want - but it isn't strictly necessary. Maybe that makes sense to me because my parents spent three years separated by the Atlantic while I was growing up. I don't know.

It seems that the reason for favorably describing and defining an online relationship is only needed if we feel compelled to validate it in terms of the 'real world'. Why justify it if it is completely normal to those involved? Does the off-line world need to approve of a manner of building a relationship for it to be 'acceptable'?

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"

The key difference (2.66 / 3) (#23)
by cronkite on Wed Nov 29, 2000 at 12:04:29 PM EST

How is meeting someone online different than meeting someone in a Church or work sponsored event?

Because we are physical as well as spiritual beings. There's a physical 'clicking' that's key to a romantic relationship, in my mind, because romance is the joining of all parts of the self. To deny the body is as sick as to deny the mind, or the soul, and nobody 'round here is arguing for denying either of those.

We also live daily, quotidian lives, and for a lover to be fully entwined with us, s/he must have some interaction with that life. Difficult online, unless you're a 24-hour jacked-in geek. I have a hard time talling an online relationship from that of lovers at geographically separate Universities.

Me too. I'm arguing against all LDRs. But online meeting makes LDRs more frequent and easy than they have been in a while. (But not forever, as you point out.)

[ Parent ]

Physical/spiritual (3.00 / 2) (#28)
by pw201 on Wed Nov 29, 2000 at 01:00:30 PM EST

How is meeting someone online different than meeting someone in a Church or work sponsored event?

Because we are physical as well as spiritual beings. There's a physical 'clicking' that's key to a romantic relationship, in my mind, because romance is the joining of all parts of the self. To deny the body is as sick as to deny the mind, or the soul, and nobody 'round here is arguing for denying either of those.

When I read the word Church and then your reply, I thought of the gnostic heresy :-) (with you as one of the orthodox ones, not one of the gnostics, obviously!) The physical is good, and until we can replicate that seemlessly I wouldn't be happy having a net-only relationship, myself. Not just because of the sexual side of it, but because I think it's too easy to diverge unless you have that shared bit of reality, if you see what I mean.

What'll happen when we do have convincing VR is another question, but I think that's a way off yet.

[ Parent ]

Daily interactions (4.33 / 3) (#32)
by jabber on Wed Nov 29, 2000 at 01:44:00 PM EST

We are not only physical and spiritual, but also intellectual and emotional.
Meeting someone in a religious context is not different than meeting them in an academic/professional one, or in a support group of some kind.

The only reason we seem so attached to the physical plane of interaction is because it's always been a constant, and now it's becoming optional.

If we try to consider the above aspects of a person, spiritual, physical, intellectual and emotional, as being of equal importance, we not that they can not be. People can go through a satisfying relationship without ever sharing the same faith - it takes effort, but it can be done. People need not relate completely on an intellectual level either. They may have significant differences emotionally (needs, fears, baggage of all sorts). They need to be in a mutually acceptable range on any of these planes, but don't have to be an exact fit.

So if both partners have little need for physical proximity, do they still need to 'click' physically? If you are Baptist and I am Agnostic, we can still be friends. If you are a physicist and I am a psychologist, we can still be friends. If I come from a broken home and you come from a nuclear family, we can still be friends. Do we ever need to meet to have a friendship? Is a handshake required?

Romance is just a specific kind of relationship that includes friendship + certain attractions. Maybe the deeper question behind this whole discussion is: What is there to Romance that necessitates physical closeness? I'd argue that there isn't anything...

Does a lover necessarily need to be "fully entwined with us" to the extent where a "24-hour jacked-in geek" is the only online alternative? My girfriend doesn't go to work with me. She doesn't live with me. She only showers with me on rare occasion.

The thing about my relationship (and I suspect, about most) is that we are fully invested in each other's lives; we care about mostly the same things, feel similarly about most issues, believe in most of the same things; and this investment transcends physical proximity. We've gone for weeks without seeing each other, and it's fine.

But the question up for discussion is: is the extreme of NO phisical intersection possible in a romantic relationship. I think it is. I've been infatuated with people I'd never met (met online or otherwise, it really doesn't matter). I've come to care about people I've never met (again, online is just a specific flavor of the non-physical contact). Hell, I've even grown emotionally attached to people I've never met (who don't even exist - such as particularly well developed characters in books).

Reality is 100% in the mind, and if the relationship is real to you, then it is real - and if you don't touch then so what?

Maybe we ought to define what it means for a relationship to be successful. That might help.

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
[ Parent ]

physical closeness (3.00 / 1) (#39)
by kubalaa on Wed Nov 29, 2000 at 04:36:48 PM EST

What is there to Romance that necessitates physical closeness? I'd argue that there isn't anything...

I agree with everything else you said except this one line. The thing is you need to discern "relationship" from "romantic relationship." You can love people with whom you aren't physical. You can even love them in a romantic way. But you can never be in a complete, fulfilling romantic relationship with them if there isn't some physical spark.

It's an inescapable part of being human. We're designed so that we need to talk to people, be sociable, laugh, think, raise kids, and have sex. Fact of life. I know Catholic priests probably think differently, and if their spirituality fulfills them I can't contradict that. I just think that is a very rare, abnormal case, and my instinct is that no matter how spiritual or intellectual you are, there's no reason to deny the physical fulfillment sex gives any more than you'd refuse to eat good food or sleep when you're tired.

And since love all came about so we can have babies anyways, it's hard to extricate love from sex and visa versa. Sex changes the dynamic of a relationship in a way that nothing else can. And I think between the right people it changes it for the better.

[ Parent ]

Oh... stuff.. (none / 0) (#40)
by jabber on Wed Nov 29, 2000 at 05:13:34 PM EST

The only reason that physical closeness is an integral part of a romantic relationship is cultural conditioning and a lack of precedent to the contrary. The example of 17th and 18th century relationships has been made by a few other people in the discussion, and I think that it's an excellent point. Back then, unsupervised (unshaperoned) physical closeness was scandalous, and physical proximity was very formal - yet relationships grew to the point of marriage or even eloping, based on little more than perfumed letters. That's as close to a precedent as we can get for building a relationship.

The continuance of such a relationship is difficult to argue, since as you say, as people, we're built for sex. But our literature has plenty of stories about forbidden love, imprisoned lovers, families torn apart by war and so forth... And the relationship lasts until the couple is reunited. Interesting aside: The Mandelas were together until Nelson Mandela was released from prison, then they promptly divorced.. Probably of no relevance, but interesting anyways. :) Anyway... Lovers are portrayed as staying true to each other for decades, and I think it's more than just the romanticised ideal of true love - I think it says that it's a possible state of being. (needless to say that physical closeness with a lover is not the only source of sexual gratification)

Romantic love and sex are not inseparable - it'd be nice if it were true, but it is absolutely not the case. Few prostitutes love their Johns. No rape victim loves their rapist, and while rape is a crime of violence, there is sex involved. People indulge in casual sex all over the place without love, or even affection being a primary motive for the sexual act.

On the flip-side, puppy love is very romantic, but sex is not a factor. Here, I mean the sort of puppy love that happens in closely knit suburban junior highschools, or between shy, highly moral (prudish) individuals who have puritanical or naive views about sex. Romantic love has an aura of inosence to it that sex often dilutes. "Will you still respect me in the morning?" too often ends up with a "No" answer as soon as the magic fades.

People do not need sex in the same way they need food or sleep. People need sex in the same way that they need pork, and there's millions of people in the world who do not eat pork as a rule.

The spark that's required for romantic love is inarguable. It's what drives infatuation - which in turn makes us curious enough about one another to make ourselves vulnerable to the other -- which in turn forms a deep bond of comfort and trust. But, I don't think that this spark is necessarily physical in nature. Could be just my view, but I consider a sharp wit and a wicked sense of humour to be at least as attractive, if not more, as green eyes or a nice butt. And even if a physical spark is needed, what's wrong with a few JPEGs? An AVI or two?

Maybe the lines of the argument are still not clearly drawn? Are we talking about physical presence versus remote presence, or multi-sensory vs textual relationships here? :)

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
[ Parent ]

re: physical love (none / 0) (#47)
by kubalaa on Wed Nov 29, 2000 at 08:34:52 PM EST

People need sex in the same way that they need pork.

Riiiight. Okay, I simply can't resist telling an old joke. There's a priest and a rabbi who happen to be on the same flight in adjacent seats. They start talking and hit it off immediately, trading stories about their respective congregations and having light philosophical banter. When the in-flight meal comes, the priest notice the rabbi got vegetarian; the regular dish was pork chops. "Oh, that's right," says the priest. "You can't eat pork, can you?" "Nope," says the rabbi. They finish the dinner and the stewardess comes by to collect their plates. The rabbi points out how good-looking the stewardess is and the priest agrees she's quite a catch. "Say, you're not allowed to have sex, are you," says the rabbi. "Nope," replies the priest. The rabbi's response: "Better than pork, isn't it?"

Romantic love and sex are not inseparable - it'd be nice if it were true, but it is absolutely not the case.

Your examples are misguided. You can have a spaghetti without sauce and sauce without spaghetti, but everyone knows they're best together. Your examples of sex are pure gratification which pale compared to the passion (yes, physical passion) in a real relationship. The same is true of your examples of "love."

...yet relationships grew to the point of marriage or even eloping, based on little more than perfumed letters.

I can't believe you're holding up Victorians as a model to emulate! They are unprecedented for their bizarre combination of psychological backwardness, perversion, prudishness, and societal restrictiveness. It was a matter of covering sex up as something to be ashamed of, not being "above" it. The sight of a woman's ankle could still give a man a hard-on.

...And the relationship lasts until the couple is reunited.

I get the impression that you think we should all voluntarily abstain, or that physical affection is not a necessary or important component of a relationship. You failed to mention something else about being physically seperated from your lover; it's painful, it's miserable, and to be honest I can't think of any literary examples where it was considered a thing to be desired. It's always an inconvenience forced by distance or societal restrictions. You can have love without sex, but it's simply not as fulfilling. (If it was, why would seperated lovers be so miserable?)

But, I don't think that this spark is necessarily physical in nature. Could be just my view, but I consider a sharp wit and a wicked sense of humour to be at least as attractive, if not more, as green eyes or a nice butt.

Oh, I definitely agree! In fact, a personality can easily be incredibly sexy, more so than the most perfect breasts or eyes or whatever. The origin of the spark may not be physical, but the spark is. You feel physically drawn to them. You want to put your arms around them. You want to give them emotional and physical pleasure. That's the beauty of it, the physical/emotional/intellectual aspects of real love are so interconnected that the most physical sex gains deep emotional meaning, and the most chaste letter can fill you with desire.

I get the impression we mostly agree but are at cross-purposes. You can have sex without love and love without sex. But each apart is much less than the two together. People who deny themselves the whole experience are, simply put, missing out.

[ Parent ]

Oh boy (none / 0) (#51)
by jabber on Wed Nov 29, 2000 at 11:03:52 PM EST

"Better than pork, isn't it?"

Yeah, it sure is. But don't make the mistake that all Catholics are celibate - only most Catholic priests are. Sex is NOT a necessity of an individual's life, just one of it's splendid benefits.

You can have a spaghetti without sauce and sauce without spaghetti, but everyone knows they're best together.

Nobody is arguing that physical closeness, and sex, combined with a romantic relationship, are the best. What's at issue is whether or not a romantic relationship can be had (albeit not optimally) without physical presence.

I can't believe you're holding up Victorians as a model to emulate!

Me neither! And I'm not. I'm simply pointing to them as precedent of what can be done. Again, nobody is saying that this is the optimal solution to the problem, just that it's a viable one.

The sight of a woman's ankle could still give a man a hard-on.

Hear, hear! Especially when it's both ankles, and they're both behind her neck. (Opps! Was that out loud??)

I get the impression that you think we should all voluntarily abstain, or that physical affection is not a necessary or important component of a relationship.

No such thing. I'm just saying that we CAN abstain. This is not a binary issue. Sex is not a necessary part of a relationship (except when either partner makes it so). It is important (unless both partnes agree that it is not - really rare, and IMO, unpleasant). Optimality vs viability of the solution, again.

The origin of the spark may not be physical, but the spark is. You feel physically drawn to them.

Besides the 'spark' being a glandular flush, is this necessarily so? I've had online flirts - which I never pursued - where the attraction was definitelly real, there was a percieved spark, but the closeness I sought was intellectual/emotional. There was an imaginary physical manifestation, but no real desire to make it happen. I've also been infatuated with women with whom I wanted to be close, simply for the purpose of raising the conversation to a higher, more intimate level - with no physical aspect other than the body language involved in sharing ideas. It was more like wanting to be near an idealized and idolized writer or actress, not a potential mate. Granted, this is not 'romantic' love, but it's definitelly a 'spark' and a need for closeness.

I think that the 'spark' in strictly romantic love drives us to greated intimacy - which is implicit in physical affection. But this physical affection is not the only means of achieving intimacy. Sharing secrets and fears, openning up with respect to emotional trauma, heck- even working out together can bring people closer together within the scope of romance. I think that what the 'spark' intends to accomplish is the breaking down of barriers, and exposing of vulnerabilities. Physical love is simply a very tangible example of this. Putting your tongue between someone elses teeth certainly makes you vulnerable - but so does telling them your greatest shame - after all, they can only bite you once IRL. Airing laundry can be done online as well as over a candle-lit dinner - and posting chat-logs to a newsgroup is an ever bigger betrayal then telling your friends that you like your feet licked.

People who deny themselves the whole experience are, simply put, missing out.

Yes, we agree. Sex, physical comfort and affection, a hand to hold, these are all wonderful things. To you, and to me, they are an integral part of our romantic relationships. But are they necessarily integral to any romantic relationship? If the original poster of the article feels that, to him, these are things he would rather forgo until an indefinite time - perhaps completely - in favor of intellectual and emotional closeness, then who are you and I to tell him that he is wrong? I think that 'a romantic relationship' can be had without physical presence.

'MY romantic relationship' can not - mostly because my GF is "high maintenance" and 'needs' the physical reasurence that everything is well. She needs body language in conversation - each time we've tried to cut costs by chatting on ICQ, we've ended up fighting. Tone of voice, eye contact, these things carry cues that she depends on. Sex is also an important part of our relationship, it's a form of communication, a show of affection and reassurance, and hey, it's fun.

But, strictly speaking, physical love is not a necessary attribute of any and all romantic relationship - that's all I've been arguing.

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
[ Parent ]

Okay (none / 0) (#69)
by kubalaa on Fri Dec 01, 2000 at 12:12:23 AM EST

We agree. Definitely.

[ Parent ]
Just faster (2.85 / 7) (#18)
by www.sorehands.com on Wed Nov 29, 2000 at 11:37:37 AM EST

You meet people on the phone or by writing, now it's IRC and email.

Back in 1992, I dated someone who lived near San Jose. My best friend, her neighbor, introduced us on the phone. We talked by phone most of the time. I built her a computer so that we could email.

It was mentioned in Pirates of Silicon Valley where Bill Gates would have movie dates by telephone. Haven't there been great love letters of the past that take weeks for messages to go back and forth.

IRC/email relationships tend to take on a surreal dimension.

Mattel, SLAPP terrorists intent on destroying free speech.

I don't understand. (3.60 / 10) (#21)
by Farq Q. Fenderson on Wed Nov 29, 2000 at 11:51:51 AM EST

I don't understand this very well; it's never happened to me, and I don't expect it ever will. This is probably why I found it so interesting.

Normally, I think teenage angst and unhealthy reclusive and other nasty things when I hear anything about "internet relationships." Sometimes I just think "loser," depending on my mood.

But it's harb, and harb doesn't fit any of that... not what I know of him anyhow. He seems healthy and realistic. The fact that harb posted this is making me think about it, a lot.

I like touching, I like being touched and I couldn't imagine doing without that in a relationship. Especially hugs. I hug all my friends to let them know that I love them, and there's a lot in a hug. Yeah, even the guys.

I also like hearing someone's voice, and seeing their face... and especially watching their body language.

As much as I lack understanding, I really appreciate this. I don't know what it is.

farq will not be coming back
Its how you use it (3.00 / 5) (#24)
by twistedfuck on Wed Nov 29, 2000 at 12:20:02 PM EST

I think meeting people and dating them online is healthy if they represent themselves honestly. But many people have an online persona that misrepresents who they really are, that is not healthy.

A lot of people will learn from interacting online, and get past always asking "a/s/l?" (That's Age, Sex, Location for those not familiar) because it shouldn't matter too much when you just want to have interaction with others.

The only thing to worry about is whether or not people can communicate on a similar level when interacting offline. If they can't do the same things face-to-face as they can online, then that could have a large impact on their lives. I don't think you can substitute an online relationship for a physical relationship.

fake personae (4.00 / 1) (#38)
by kubalaa on Wed Nov 29, 2000 at 04:29:15 PM EST

I don't think it's necessarily unhealthy, as long as one doesn't take it too far. For a lot of people it's fun to be able to hide behind a new identity, and I think that's a perfectly reasonable way of testing the boundaries of your personality. The issue is knowing when to stop. If you're just "chatting," it's understood these days that people often lie. If you're good friends, it is important to be honest, because that's what's expected.

[ Parent ]
Interesting subject. (3.16 / 6) (#25)
by Forum on Wed Nov 29, 2000 at 12:31:08 PM EST

I'm going to apologize in advance for the ramblings to follow, but read on, you may enjoy it.

One of my favorite pass times is watching people, and especially watching how they interact with one another. I guess that's because I'm a little bit of a sociologist at heart, but that's beside the point.

Relationships, either "online" or in a direct physical manifestation, are incredibly interesting things to watch. Seeing how people interact with others, specifically persons that they harbor strong feelings toward, is fascinating. Watching people posture, act out, and generally make interesting displays and actions toward people of the opposite sex tends to reinforce (to me) just how close we actually are to animals. I find that if you watch, say the mating rituals of some marsh dwelling bird, and then later spend an hour or so at the local mall, watching the males strut around in front of the females there isn't much difference.

When you throw technology into the mix though (technology being anything joining persons from a distance. Letters, email, telephone etc.) things become drastically different. No longer is the physical posturing, or pre-mating ritual dance required. One has the opportunity to interact directly with the psyche of the other creature. That, IMO, is one of the biggest things that set us apart from the rest of the animals.

Are Technologically enabled relationships as good for personal development? I don't know. Are any relationships good for development? Pain is said to be the greatest teacher, as one almost never forgets its lessons.

Although I have never participated in one, I have witnessed an online relationship firsthand. A good friend of mine was part of an online relationship while we were stationed together in Okinawa, Japan. I got to watch all of his troubles, and witnessed all of his joys while he was part of that relationship (perhaps not ALL of them, but a good majority) and from that experience, I believe that the emotional implications of an online relationship are definitely on par with a "real" or "meatspace" relationship. The only aspect lacking was that of physical intimacy.

In this age, where technology pervades most peoples lives, I believe that we are moving farther from our animal ancestors than ever before, and following that belief, I also believe that physical contact is no longer a necessity like it once was. Without the need for procreation to carry on the species, humans are now more than ever able to explore the possibilities of linking minds and joining emotionally over great distances. That aspect in itself may be the greatest boon of our new ability to engage in long distance relationships.


-- "When I walk down the street and only 3 or 4 shots are fired at me, I find it hard to stay awake." -HC
Stigma, not stigmata! (2.60 / 10) (#27)
by 3than on Wed Nov 29, 2000 at 12:56:33 PM EST

Listen: online relationships are better inasmuch as they necessitate less close physical proximity and relations to people. People should mix with one another as little as possible.
I can't really support them, though. If this intellectual closeness of which you speak really does exist, then it sounds like online relationships are pretty dangerous too. So I would recommend that you stay away from them!
OK, sure this sounds extreme to you...people like being together in groups, right? No. People only hurt each other when they get together in certain ways...oh, sure, you think you're happy for awhile, but it's really only the brain chemistry that's produced by lots of sex. Don't give in. It's like heroin addiction. It's like taking a bonghit. And it's dirty, demeaning and spreads disease. Listen...what you need is to start doing drugs. It's simple. It will put the whole thing into perspective, and hopefully stop your whining. It sure stopped mine. And I hope you know that online 'dating' and the real thing are worlds apart.
Oh, and by the way, online dating has a 'stigma,' not a 'stigmata.' Stigmata is used in English only for the wounds that Christ received on the cross, whereas a stigma is a negative reputation.

Ethan (none / 0) (#57)
by PenguinWrangler on Thu Nov 30, 2000 at 07:05:01 AM EST

You're a sad, strange little man...

"Information wants to be paid"
[ Parent ]
ssh (none / 0) (#66)
by 3than on Thu Nov 30, 2000 at 05:54:06 PM EST

I might be joking...(don't tell anyone!!!!)

[ Parent ]
Hell yes! (none / 0) (#67)
by xtreme on Thu Nov 30, 2000 at 11:31:47 PM EST

Drugs make you forget about your problems. They're wonderful, just don't run out of them or you'll go crazy!!@$&%?!

[ Parent ]
my .02 (3.16 / 6) (#29)
by chesire on Wed Nov 29, 2000 at 01:04:15 PM EST

While i personaly have no experience whith dateing online, my best friend met his current wife online and not a year later they were maried. Now, a year later, they are divorceing. Very sad, both good people.

I wouldnt say that it was the fault of meeting online, i would say it was a fault of being unrealistic. To me, online relationships seem to have this fantasy-island aspect about them. But then again, im sure there are *many* healthy online relationships.

My personal philosophy is to be realistic. Know and be aware of what your getting into. Moderation in all things, even moderation.


"I've looked at love from both sides, from win and from loose, and somehow I don't know love at all, but it's loves illusions I remember."

Reasons for Divorce (4.00 / 2) (#65)
by theboz on Thu Nov 30, 2000 at 04:40:23 PM EST

While i personaly have no experience whith dateing online, my best friend met his current wife online and not a year later they were maried.

I think this has more to do with the divorce than the internet. When people get married very early (less than two years) they have a very high risk of divorce. It's a biological thing really, the love people share in the first two years of a relationship is more of an infatuation. After the time is gone (two years is average but it can be more or less) the relationship changes to something closer to a friendship, but there is still passion. It's just not as intense. I've been with my girlfriend that I met online for over 2 years now, but we are waiting for her to graduate college (2 more years...grr...) before we marry. That is good because we get to know each other better, and the fact that we have held ourselves back from marrying so far is probably a good thing. I'd say the two years are over and it's no longer an "obsessive" sort of thing, but we are very comfortable with each other and still are romantic and passionate, just in a more mature way.

I think too many people mistake a rush of hormones as a sign of "true love" when it is really just their reaction to phermones. This is a common problem in people that meet all sorts of ways. It's not just related to online couples, but a lot of those in real life as well. Just look at how high the divorce rate is in the U.S. and you'll see that people are not happy with each other for many reasons, and have unrealistic ideas of what love should be.

Anyways, this is my opinion, and there are exceptions to the rules of course, but I think for the most part, people rush too much in their relationships and want to jump too quickly from being single to being married with kids. It should be a more gradual process to be easier and work better.

[ Parent ]

The Internet as Saviour :) (4.28 / 7) (#30)
by Chakotay on Wed Nov 29, 2000 at 01:17:00 PM EST

Whether you date online, irl, or both, it remains a strange and slippery thing. Personally I've been in a very limited amount of relationships, and I'm currently in one that seems like it'll actually last. All of those came without me looking for them. Two of them started online, and three IRL. Oops, now I've gone and told how many relationships I've had - oh well.

The very first started IRL, lasted for a few weeks, and went south. Your typical first teenage relationship. The second started not long after, lasted a few months, but went south too. Maybe your typical second teenage relationship, except that it went south right when I was already in a rather deep depression, generally screwing me up psychologically. So much so, that I was actually within an inch of committing suicide. Looking back at that, that all seems very silly ofcourse, and I'm very glad I didn't go through with it, but hey, kids do stupid stuff sometimes. Anyway, it did leave me very timid, unable to make close contact with anybody for fear of rejection. I became completely introvert, built tall walls around me, and let nobody in.

And then I turned 18, went to college, and was introduced to the Internet, which was instrumental in breaking down that bunker that the walls had by then turned into. I still wasn't psychologically stable, but there the Internet helped a lot too. I was totally walled in IRL, but online I could talk, online I was much more free. Online I met a girl, and the first time we met, we spent four hours chatting privately, so we pursued the relationship further, but eventually it was shattered when she found somebody IRL. I had never actually seen her, I don't even know what she looks like. I know she lives in Rotterdam, though, but then again, there live about a million other people there.

Anyway, I got depressed again, got over it, got depressed yet again, found a faith that pulled me out of the depression, then lost my faith and got depressed because of that, and then after finding yet another faith, my psychological condition finally stabilised, and I have had the pleasure of finally enjoying psychological stability in the past two and a half years. In July/August 1998, shortly after gaining said stability (not knowing, neither really expecting that it would last) I got into an online relationship with a girl (or woman? where exactly does one put the border between "girl" and "woman"?) from the US, one of those long distance thingies. It started out as something romantic, but then over a year it slowly transformed into being best friends, which was confirmed when she visited me in the summer of 1999. She visited me again briefly in January 2000, and I visited her last summer. The best friends, brother-sister-like relationship lasted, still lasts, and will likely continue lasting. She was the first person I really opened up to, and I do kind of see her as the big sister I never had (and she sees me as the (little) brother she never had).

In March 2000 however, among a new batch of co-workers, was a remarkable girl. Remarkable as in, I found her somewhat ridiculous in the way she dressed and behaved, thinking I'd never want anything with a girl like that, but finding her inexplicably interesting anyway. One day in May we were sitting in cubicles next to eachother, and I simply constantly felt my eyes drawn towards her. Desperately, she tossed me a picture of herself, saying "here, so you don't have to crane your neck." Jokingly, I gave her a picture of myself too. A weeks days later we found ourselves in a somewhat intoxicated condition after a party and wound up in a rather passionate kiss. Well, the relationship grew, transformed, grew stronger, and is now something pretty steady. We're thinking of moving in together within the next six months.

In closing, there are a few things I'd like to say. The first is, that in all those relationships, I wasn't looking for a relationship at all, it just simply happened. My girlfriend even actively tried to avoid getting into a relationship with me, but failed miserably - apparently she fell in love with me the first time she saw me and tried really hard to avoid me ever since, until that fateful day in May when we ended up sitting next to eachother. I have actively pursued a number of relationships IRL, but those never even got off the ground, so I can't call them relationships at all. The second is that the Internet has basically saved me. It slowly changed me from a terminally introvert social reject to a still somewhat introvert but socially much more open individual with outspoken opinions, and not afraid to defend them. It did that by exposing me to a whole new way of interacting with people. I had lost faith in face to face communication, and the Internet provided a whole new medium to explore. In slowly becoming more open online, in being able to open myself online, I also started to open myself IRL, simply because I relearned how to be open. Basically, the Internet is my saviour :)

Linux like wigwam. No windows, no gates, Apache inside.

Email is the renaissance of Correspondence (4.11 / 9) (#31)
by redelm on Wed Nov 29, 2000 at 01:21:03 PM EST

The poster has rediscovered the joys of written correspondence with a kindred spirit. The speed and convenience of email have revived letter writing to a level not seen since the late 1800s before the railways- and the telephone-induced decline.

The simple fact is that written communications are different from verbal interaction, whether face-to-face or blind over the telephone. There is more time to prepare thoughts and develop a reasoned approach. Missing is the urgency of verbal interactions [speak now or ...], interruptions but also various body/tone language cues.

Like anything different, written comms have advantages and disadvantages. You cannot simply say that "email is better" or "face-to-face" is better. It all depends on the message to be conveyed and the poeple involved. You can get into a flamewar in email just as easily as a verbal fight.

Choose the right tool. My wife lives with me, yet I still write her email and paper mail too. Some things are better said in writing.

I've never been happy with IRC even though I can type extremely quickly. It's just _too_ immediate and rushed. Sort of like all the disadvantages of voice and email, but none of the advantages. But maybe that's just me.

One key problem with developing a long distance relationship: It's almost always a big sacrifice for someone to move.

Hear hear! (5.00 / 2) (#37)
by kubalaa on Wed Nov 29, 2000 at 04:23:40 PM EST

I definitely agree with this. There's something about the timelessness of a well-written letter that conversation can never equal. When you write, you choose your words more carefully, and for some things that can be very important.

On the other hand, it really annoys me the way IM has dragged e-mail down in a sense. People are so used to AOL-style "how R u, im gr8" that they scrawl out messages without bothering to capitalize, spell correctly, or use proper grammar. It's a silly pet peeve, but it belies a lack of thought or consideration going into the message.

I suppose my point is saying letter-writing is undergoing a renaissance is only partly true. The kind of people who like writing letters wrote them before e-mail and carry their style to the new medium. The kind of people who don't, don't. 90% of the e-mail I get is about equivalent to a message left on an answering machine; definitely not deserving of the term "letter."

[ Parent ]

Internet relationships & an appeciation of writing (none / 0) (#71)
by bitwise on Fri Dec 01, 2000 at 08:09:57 AM EST

I had an internet relationship once.

I don't really care to elaborate on it all - I've done that too many times, and I'm happy now to just have it in my memory. It's certainly one of the highlights of my (admittely still short) life.

I'm not what you'd call a typical geek. I'm fairly literate and my mathematics inadequacies which limit my programming ventures seem to be made up for by my people skills. So being able to distance myself physically from the other person wasn't what I'd call a highlight.

Writing to her was. We would talk on IRC and later when ICQ became more popular, that too. But we both weren't as well connected back then, so we'd often write each other email. I think I've got almost all of it archived... it really is, in a sense (as another person said)... timeless.

I'm not sure I agree with you, kubalaa. I neven enjoyed letter writing - I found the whole process too tedious. I used to do it occasionally in school instead of doing work - but that was a rare thing to do.

Writing really came to me when I started conversing with this girl. Thinking back on the relationship, years later, it was almost as if I was having a relationship with two people. Here I was writing to this girl, who I was deeply attracted to (we started meeting every 3 or so months, about 6 months into the relationship, and we'd been friends for about a year before that). I think the reason I was so attracted to her was because I got a chance to see her 'personality' so closely, and I really fell for it!

We used to write to each other every day. It was a difficult time for us both, still finding our way; we were still young. We would write about our day and what had happened - but more importantly, how we felt about it.

I mentioned before that it was almost as if I was seeing two people. This is because we became so close, it was almost as if we were writing a diary (which we'd get feedback on). Being able to work through these .. obstacles in our lives, by talking about them in a logical, structured way (ie - correspondance), really helped I think.

Half the time the answers to our questions were there by the time we'd worked out how to ask them.

It really gave me a love of writing, too. We certainly both got a lot of practise. But I've digressed, and spoken more than I said I would :o)

So I'll briefly answer some points raised by the original poster:

> Thirdly, what sort of effect will the Internet and a
> continued trend of romantic relationships do to the >younger generation?

I'm still technically young. I think it was really beneficial, because it taught me what it's like to care about someone without the physical side of things interfering. There were difficult times in the relationship. Once we started *seeing* each other it became difficult to cope with the distance (by car, 8 hours away)

But from that I came away with a love of literature, writing in general - and most importantly, an appeciation of just how 'beautiful' another human being can be. With all the web's multimedia extentions, plain text email was the single most influencial point.

eschew obfuscation ;)
[ Parent ]

email vs snail mail (none / 0) (#76)
by kubalaa on Sun Dec 03, 2000 at 12:47:52 PM EST

This is because we became so close, it was almost as if we were writing a diary (which we'd get feedback on). Being able to work through these .. obstacles in our lives, by talking about them in a logical, structured way (ie - correspondance), really helped I think.

I've felt EXACTLY the same way. My current relationship is with a girl I went to high school with, except we didn't meet in "meatspace," we met online through a mutual friend (how funny is that?). We did nothing but write emails for about a year, and I definitely agree that it's great for getting psychologically close to someone without the fetters of social niceties. And in fact, I'd kept a diary before that but ended up stopping because our letters fulfilled the purpose so well. I was lucky in that it could transition naturally into an offline relationship.

Anyways, I have to concede that you are an exception to the rule, email actually did introduce you to the joys of letter writing. It was a matter of timing; the right person, the right age, the right medium. BUT I stand by my original argument. I think, had you been born twenty years earlier, and somehow managed to connect with this girl, you would have written letters instead and enjoyed it just as much, so in that sense I think you fall into the "naturally-letter-writing" type.

[ Parent ]

Confessions from a dating king (3.77 / 9) (#35)
by delfstrom on Wed Nov 29, 2000 at 02:16:45 PM EST

In the past 3 years, I've physically gone out on dates with about 25 different women. I met half of them through social functions, clubs, friends, work, waiting for a bus, etc. The other 12 or so were met over the Internet. The count for long-term relationships is even: two from meatspace and two from the 'net. After this, it is my firm belief that meatspace is an important requirement for any relationship. The best combination has been meeting someone over the Internet who happens to live in the same city.
I prefer to deal with my emotions head-on from a logical standpoint.
Word of warning: Emotions by their very nature are not logical. That doesn't stop us nerds/geeks from trying, though. We are doomed to repeat that mistake.
...my friend RyanT once said that "Getting to know someone online is easier.. you get to figure out their brains before any physical shit gets in the way", and that I agree with him - to an extent - is this mode any better than a melting pot of dating and the current method of exploring someone else's personality?
I don't think it's any better to get to know each other first online. But it certainly is a valuable addition to the exercise of discovering a person.
Secondly, is the physical importance in relationships being delimited? I personally miss all the nifty physical stuff that goes along with being with someone; but as I mentioned earlier, I still feel that the previous, non-meatspace relationship was more satisfying on most levels.
Again, you need to have some face-time in any relationship.
Thirdly, what sort of effect will the Internet and a continued trend of romantic relationships do to the younger generation?
It will make them have much stronger relationships. It's merely a time-saving alternate way of meeting people.
...what are the mental problems related to taking this course rather than dealing with the rat-race that is the dating scene?
Man, mentally, it's a heck of a lot easier. That is, unless you're dealing with someone who is physically located somewhere else.
To my mind, online relationships (term, please! :) have always held a stigmata, a dirty-little-secret sort of smell hung around them, or any conversation in which they were mentioned.
So many of the women I met wanted to have an 'alternate' story of how we met, so that her friends wouldn't think badly of her. You know what? The ones who *didn't care* what her friends or parents thought had the most self-confidence, and were a lot more fun to be around. Your friends think you're a great guy, right? So if they see you having success with online dating, maybe that stigma will start to go away. But first you must abolish your own stigma against it.

I leave you with this thought: Even in the age of the Internet, we are still most likely to marry someone from our own city/town. There is no substitute for face-to-face contact in any form of relationship - be it romantic or business.

I disagree (3.50 / 10) (#36)
by maketo on Wed Nov 29, 2000 at 02:31:47 PM EST

Just because you live in times/society that is sh*tty does not mean that old rules do not apply anymore. Being physical is not wrong - once you find someone that is right. Having hordes of people respond to their lowest primary urges and have sex when they are thirteen clearly devaluates the physical component of a relationship. Since I came from eastern europe here I saw something I had never seen before - people are massively unhappy even with all the money they make -> this in turn leads them to search for satisfaction somewhere else: cheap sex with the equally unhappy, pervesion, fetish, striptease bars, porn, behavior that is not honorable. To see that I am right - just go out to a bar on a Friday night. Most of the people you will see there are essentially _alone_ and _unhappy_. They just keep on venturing from one dumb thing to a dubmer (e.g. having one night stands / sleeping around) trying to prove themselves that this is in fact the western lifestyle that is so praised. Just like in the movies and their cool heroes. What is at the essence of it all is a lack of selfimage and esteem. Internet relationship is fine if there was only you and her outhere. But when the word is out and millions are doing it - does not make it any more or less different/special than the girl you meet in a bar. Just because you are facing a delay effect in the physical appereance does not mean that the internet girl is the right one for you.
agents, bugs, nanites....see the connection?
No! (3.25 / 4) (#43)
by chimera on Wed Nov 29, 2000 at 05:37:06 PM EST

Online relationships have never existed.
It's just a hoax brought to you by careful media manipulation from Cisco since they want to sell more routers and other misc. gadgets.
They also created AOL, the Hoax In Itself.
Nothing like a few extra added kiddie snatchers, killers and IPO-meets-FrogGirl-creates-Princess69 stories to spike attention levels.

Noone ever heard of social engineering in here?


Of course I've had one of these..
Hasn't everyone? I think it all comes down to the basic principle of wanting to be loved.

But... (5.00 / 1) (#53)
by kwsNI on Thu Nov 30, 2000 at 12:42:15 AM EST

Didn't Cisco also invent Al Gore (and by association, the Internet)?

I can picture in my mind a world without war, a world without hate. And I can picture us attacking that world, because they'd never expect it. -Jack Handy
[ Parent ]
One Problem With This, At least For Me (3.75 / 4) (#44)
by CyberQuog on Wed Nov 29, 2000 at 06:06:32 PM EST

I have had a few relationships where the main form of communication was over the net or even over the phone. We would see each other maybe once every week or two. What I started to discover was that it was very hard for me to express myself in just words. I tend to express myself much better through facial expressions, body movements, and other physical innuendo (sp?). I found it hard to put into words things which I was feeling. Another problem I found, you have a tendency to say things over the net you would not normally say because instead of a living face in front of you, there is a computer monitor.

To sum it up, net relationships or even talking over the phone a whole lot didn't work for me because I tend to be a very physical person.

Loveline (4.00 / 7) (#45)
by drivers on Wed Nov 29, 2000 at 06:08:05 PM EST

I'm with Dr. Drew on this one. The sooner you start meeting your internet acquantance in real life the sooner you can stop idealizing them. It's too easy to be unrealistic about your online relationship.

I agree, with caveats (3.00 / 1) (#46)
by AdamJ on Wed Nov 29, 2000 at 07:24:25 PM EST

Not too soon, not too late, just right. <g>

The soonest I've ever met someone that I was interested in IRL after meeting them online was about.. 3 months. It was a dismal flop, although I don't think it was due to the amount of time; rather just to the fact that neither of us could communicate what we were feeling about each other effectively.

The longest was just over 2 years (There was a bunch of stuff in those two years that made it so long, it wasn't just because we were apathetic about it ;) ), and it worked out really well, although what happens next is still in the air.

And in the middle was six months, and that went well. It was the six months afterwards when she had no internet access that killed it...

That's all of them, honest. :)

[ Parent ]

A quick thought... (2.33 / 3) (#48)
by Cynic77 on Wed Nov 29, 2000 at 08:50:41 PM EST

While I've had my fair share of "online" relationships, I think that they are a mixed blessing. It is one thing to get to know how a person's mind works, I find that it works quite well to discover who they are with respect to their inner selves; the side that nobody sees, who they would like to be, but can't quite accomplish. While this may be fine and dandy, how people react in different circumstances and with different people/surroundings can often dictate how they tend to be once they are presented with the physical manifestation of the soul that they have been interacting with. It seems that all of the learning that has been done up to that point is now for naught, because with all the smiley-faces and such in email and other online avenues of conversation, there is no real substitution for learning someone's mannerisms and how they compose themselves. I believe that, as it turns out, ultimately the physical side of the relationship is just as important as the intellectual portion.

Just as a side note, as I best as I can recall, there was usually a lot of disappointment involved in the first meeting that had to be overcome as well.

When my ship comes in, I'll probably be at the airport...
the intersection of both is nice (2.00 / 2) (#49)
by monkeyfish on Wed Nov 29, 2000 at 08:59:11 PM EST

in my experience, putting both intense online relationships and physical relationships together is where it's at. emailing and instant messaging both have unique qualities that face-to-face does not. i'm much more contemplative and careful in my emails. when i'm on im or icq, i find that i push a lot more boundaries w/ people. but neither have the same sensual qualities that physical relationships do. you can't puff an el or drink a beer with someone online. you can't kiss someone (yet) . you can't go snowboarding. and so on. . .

ASCII Eyes (3.60 / 5) (#50)
by mahju on Wed Nov 29, 2000 at 09:51:44 PM EST

The eyes have it... (my little rant)

I've never started a relationship online, but phones, email, and IM have at times played a major part in keeping me in touch with the people I love.
Email and online is safe. You can say what you want. And you can be lied to easily. In meatspace (or IRL) its harder. Why? ... Eyes.

Its from an old saying of sorts, but look into someones eyes and you can tell how much of the truth they are giving. There is no ASCII equiv' of that I know of...

There are many ways that we communicate, and eletronic means, such as email provide a great way to develop an understanding between people. Good conversation creates an understanding between poeple, and a trust can come with that.

But sometimes the best moments in a relationship are when your beside the person you love, and nothing is said.
I never got a feeling from looking into i's anything like looking into eyes....

A courting we go (2.75 / 4) (#52)
by Holloway on Wed Nov 29, 2000 at 11:26:15 PM EST

My girlfriend and I met through friends but courted somewhat through websites and the odd email. We've been together for a little over a year, we're happy, we have our own place. We take turns doing dishes. Cowabunga for us.

But prior to that I chatted with someone for three years and our real life meeting was awful. We had both built up odd ideas of the other and we're not friends anymore (not that I miss her). It's quite impossible not to read into what people say. You do need physical contact, if only a few days together, to get a feel for the person.

I've been perfectly happy talking to people online who in real life have turned out to be annoying gits. I blame my poor judgement, however being online does make it more difficult.

I certainly wouldn't expect more than an estranged friendship online. Although that's quite good, really.

== Human's wear pants, if they don't wear pants they stand out in a crowd. But if a monkey didn't wear pants it would be anonymous

Compliments - no nonsense at all (4.00 / 4) (#54)
by mami on Thu Nov 30, 2000 at 01:14:15 AM EST

That's a tough one and I commend you for bringing it up. Let me put down some thoughts about online versus real-life relationships, be it romantic ones or not.

You were looking for a word for online relationships. I call them "mind teasing aphrodisiacs". You were wondering why the "non-meat-space" relationship was more satisfying to you on most levels ? Because the text-based email conversations have tremendously addictive power on your mind. Thoughts go directly to your central nervous systems, it's a drug. If you agree with the thoughts being conveyed to you via text-based email, you get a high. If not, you are upset and really angry, independently of knowing the person in real life who conveyed them, and without needing to cope with all the hard facts of that person's personality.

Basically you get a bit crazy and you get very vulnerable, open to emotional abuse or emotional healing in both ways, big time. If you ask me, it is dangerous. It's a drug in the literal meaning. And as it is with real drugs, it is the dose and format of taking it, which determines its healing or killing power. Big words, but I actually think, it's one of the most important issues of online "life" which people don't deal with.

Most people profit from the fact, that, when conversing online, they can craft their thoughts in ways you never could in a spontaneous real-life conversation. People are not inhibitied to expose their thoughts and feelings by anything. That is of great value if you want to expose yourself to a person you trust and it can be tremendously dangereous, if you happen to do so carte blanche.

Email conversations between married people whose relationship became unbearable in real-life, can have highly therapeutic effect, because many things you just can't bring over yourself to express face-to-face. It is of great help. Couples, who have been separated physically though work, war (military deploymnets for example), can have sometimes a more intense relationship through their email exchanges, than they had when they still were close in "meat-space". They have much more courage to be honest when relieved to face the real-life reaction of the partner face to face immediately.

On the other hand, email conversations of one party of a couple with an unknown "phantom" partner, can easily destroy a real-life relationship or marriage. The only thing which amazes me, is the denial of it. Again, a sign that you deal with a powerful addictive, mind manipulating phenomena.

So, if you fell in love with some phantom persona through all the thoughts being ping-ponged back and force between you two and you happen to be able stay in love with the real-life persona in "meat-space" after you have really met that person , then you say, God was nice to you and you were lucky. Say, thanks, grab your bride and off you go to Canada or whereever. But don't forget, that is due simply to luck and coincidence.

We will never find out, if the potential to get hurt by exposing your thougths to persons, you later, after meeting in real life, regret deeply and wished to have never exposed, is larger than the potential to be able to continue as satisfying a relationship with that person in real life.

Both side will not want to disclose their good or bad experiences and rightfully so. It is not possible to get reliable statistics about it, though money-hungry social psychologist will certainly churn out "research" all over the place. The little bit psychiatrists and psychologists reveal right now, is that there are problems.

People who are addicted don't see themselves as addicted as long as they manage their real life well. Go to any twelve-step meeting and find out when and how and why people are capable to be freed from their addiction and you will see that "hitting bottom caused all by your own giving in to your addiction" is almost always a prerequisite to really turn yourself around.

I personally see a lot of room for depression and isolation caused through prolonged escape into "phantom" relationships. I dare to predict that on the long run people will turn away from online conversations and feel regardless of the "global connectiveness" very much separated not despite of, but because of their intense dependence from conversation in "phantom" space instead of "meat space".

Another thing I observed, which reminds me of how powerful "spiritual connectedness" (close to the way you "live" in your mind with the mind of someone else "online"), is what happens when one partner in a loving marriage dies away unexpectedly. The person left behind lives in his mind sometimes for years with the "spirit" of the deceased spouse, very lovingly.

Finally, I really do trust in Mother Nature. The mind might get nuts at times, but then I am sure we find some innovative new ways of dealing with all that "global connectiveness" nonsense and continue to live locally and down to earth. So, to hell with cyberspace and off to meat-space. :-)

It's a "drug" ? (none / 0) (#60)
by paulerdos on Thu Nov 30, 2000 at 08:50:47 AM EST

I'm not sure I understand you when you say that "text-based email conversations" are a "drug". Your reasoning is that it's highly satisfying and addictive, therefore it's a drug.

But this seems fallacious to me. That would be like labeling food or water as a drug. I agree with you that text-based conversations are satisfying for the reasons you mentioned, and it's only natural that it be satisfying. It does seem a a human reaction, after all, that we find [communication unhindered by the way you look] satisfying. Everyone wants to be accepted and understood for who (s)he is, with disregard to how they may look. There is nothing "drug"-ish about that, and in fact I would consider healthy.

The second caveat to calling it a drug is that a drug has two criteria: that you become dependent on it (whether physically or psychologically), and that you develop a tolerance to it. The second reason is why the aforementioned items like food and water are not considered "drugs" and, I think, nor should text-based emails be considered as such. As far as I know (based on myself and those I know), people do not develop a tolerance to online communication, needing to spend increasing amounts of time on it to feel the same satisfaction, to the point where they cannot fulfill their other responsibilities because they're writing emails all the time.

I do agree with you about the risks involved with the "phantom persona". I think in online relationships much more than irl, people have a tendency to build up an image of who they want the other person to be rather than who the other person is, because you don't SEE them. And when you meet them irl, you could be faced with the disappointment of realizing that they're not at all the character you had created in your mind.

[ Parent ]
It's a drug ? (5.00 / 1) (#61)
by mami on Thu Nov 30, 2000 at 11:17:55 AM EST

As far as I know (based on myself and those I know), people do not develop a tolerance to online communication, needing to spend increasing amounts of time on it to feel the same satisfaction, to the point where they cannot fulfill their other responsibilities because they're writing emails all the time.

You may be right, but there have been indications that this seems to be a problem for some people to the point where they look for help, because they actually do exactly that. And then, as with other "drugs" and possible "dependencies", let's say alcohol for example, it is completely up to the individual perception, when the consumption of a drug is a simple and healthy form of escape and when it is considered a problem. I think people who deal with therapies for codependent family members of alcoholics answer the question this way: " Alcoholism becomes a problem whenever a real life person in your immediate circle of people living with you, feel it is a problem for them (the family member who doesn't take the drug)". For one person the regular, self administered sleeping dose of four beers or so, can be "a big problem", for the other person an enjoyable way to end a day of hard work. So, whatever. It is a matter of dosage and a matter of how the effects of your self-administered drug are viewed by the people living with you in real life.

I'm not sure I understand you when you say that "text-based email conversations" are a "drug". Your reasoning is that it's highly satisfying and addictive, therefore it's a drug. ... that would be like labeling food or water as a drug. I agree with you that text-based conversations are satisfying for the reasons you mentioned, and it's only natural that it be satisfying. It does seem a a human reaction, after all, that we find communication unhindered by the way you look] satisfying. Everyone wants to be accepted and understood for who (s)he is, with disregard to how they may look. There is nothing "drug"-ish about that, and in fact I would consider healthy.

Sure, everyone wants to be understood for who s(he) is, with disregard to "how they may look". But can you be understood without it ? There was once a thread, may be even on slashdot, I don't remember, about some well known hacker or scientist or so, who had some disabling disease which had no effect on his intellect, but on any other capability to manage his bodily functions from speech to moving etc.You can easily imagine how therapeutic for this person the online communication via email with his professional peers became. Apparently very few people knew about his disease. When my memory doesn't fail me, his case gave some insight about how little you understand a person considering only what his mind conveys to you, when his disease became known in public after his death.

Another example might illustrate it. It's pretty much known that a baby raised without contact to humans doesn't learn to speak and without human touch remains severly disabled emotionally. Well, may be some crual scientist in some country will make the ultimate experiment one day. Imagine a baby or toddler being raised in a room providing him regularly with food and water through some automatic device without any human being involved . Then let's say the toddler is exposed only to human speech and thought by tape recordings, the voice being unaltered in tone (like the things you have to translate email to voice for the blind for example) not giving any option to convey emotions through tone modulation etc. In addition let's say the toddler is imprisoned in a cage like a rat without being able to learn by viewing images of things and being able to touch them. Do you think that the toddler would physically survive ? Will learn to speak, learn to think, develop emotions ?

Another example why there is something about online communication which doesn't work. Take online learning, online training programs. People try to make online learning more effective mainly by adding sound, image, 3D, immediate interactivity to it, basically by imitating as close as possible the real life setting of human interaction, the one you would get in a class room. Still thousands of students will confirm that they need the real life class room setting, even if the actual content being taught in real life classes is less than what is conveyed in an online interactive, text-based instructional setting. Why is that ?

Anyway, I don't understand what it is either, but my gut's feelings tell me that there is something "unnatural" about "online interactivity" and that it has the potential of being harmful to your "emotional health". I can't explain it better. Sorry.

[ Parent ]

Experiences I've had with this... (4.00 / 3) (#56)
by Miniluv on Thu Nov 30, 2000 at 03:14:11 AM EST

This is a subject I don't usually care to talk about, because of my intense personal experiences with it. I've had some great online friendships and romances, and some horrible ones. Each one however has been unique in it's greatness or apathy because of the uniqueness of the people involved. This is also true of my "irl"/"meatspace"/"traditional" relationships. Who'dve thought I could unknowingly date a lesbian for 18 months? Especially when I tell 'em it was IRL for chrissakes. Then again, I've "fallen" for many the biologically noninterested online as well.

Ultimately, the main reason I normally don't care to talk about online relationships is that the best relationship of my life, the one I intend to work at continuing until my last breath is exhaled, began quasi-online and is currently perpetuating two ISPs and two long distance carriers. My fiancee and I met three years ago on IRC as regulars of the same channel. We flirted some, but that didn't mean much as I flirted with everyone back then, and sometimes still seem to. I met her early into the relationship, and we found out to our mutual satisfaction that the age difference (8 years older than me) didn't mean anything, and the sex worked quite well thank you. We see each other every few months when one of us can save the money for airfare and get time off, and in between we talk both online and on the phone. Our schedules don't mesh particularly well, so I talk to her a lot via ICQ at work while she's at home, and then quick calls most nights at minimum as well to maintain more intimate contact or to discuss subjects that don't lend themselves well to online media.
I do not think our relationship is suceeding because it's online, or that if it fails it can be blamed on the net or distance either, but instead because we're two people who fit each other well. Had she been my next door neighbor we'd still fit well, and our communication techniques extend from email to lying next to each other in bed and everything in between.

For me, relationships suceed when I get to know the other person cerebrally far faster than physically. Every relationship where I've placed any importance on sex early on has failed, with my current the sex early on just sort've happened. I would've been quite content not sleeping with her had it not felt appropriate, and instead enjoyed the intoxicating presence of her company in social situations.
Basically, I see the Internet and it's influence on relationships being pretty small at this point because the medium just isn't right for most people. Physical contact is pretty lacking on the net right now, which turns a lot of people off to it, and it's likely to remain that way for the immediate future. There is nothing magical about relationships that work online as opposed to offline, it's just a matter of that being the available way of communicating. In the 18th and 19th centuries mail was a common way for courtships to be carried out, especially between people in America and England for example.
I caution people who think that being online forces you to "get to know" the person faster, deeper, or whatever, because it doesn't. In the end, for a relationship to truly blossom and last any significant period of time, there must be physical proximity, otherwise it's just a friendship. It may be a deep, meaningful and fulfilling friendship, which is cool, but it's still not a full fledged romantic relationship. Romantic relationships involve, at some socially acceptable point, the exchange of various bodily fluids (and not by mail), which is generally agreed to be a good thing. To those of you who haven't yet exchanged said fluids, you'll enjoy it when you get to, especially if it's the right time.

"Its like someone opened my mouth and stuck a fistful of herbs in it." - Tamio Kageyama, Iron Chef 'Battle Eggplant'

My story is somewhat similar (4.50 / 2) (#64)
by theboz on Thu Nov 30, 2000 at 03:47:02 PM EST

I have had a similar time, although there are a few things that I would like to add.

Growing up, I was never too close to anyone, and would probably be classified (even today) as socially inept.

Now, if anyone I know is reading this and agrees, screw you.


Anyways, I have not had a lot of friends, and when I do have them, I sometimes get tired of them and simply abandon them or unattach myself from a social group. This happens for many reasons and everyone does it, I just do it more quickly. So, when I first got a computer I had a friend that had a local BBS. It was all people in my area at the time, so I made plenty of IRL friends via that. I also made a few enemies but that is another subject. At the time I had never considered asking a girl out from a BBS. Then, the internet got to be a big thing, and when I finally got online, I saw a bigger, more impersonal, more barbaric form of communication than what I was used to. There were a lot of people flirting in chatrooms and just wanting "cybersex" which was odd to me. I ended up meeting some people like that, and never really clicked with them. Then, I met a girl that became "in love" with me rather quickly. I first thought it was a game, but after months passed I had grown to have feelings for her. It took a long time of us never meeting in real life before we got to know each other well enough to know that we should not meet in real life and we stopped talking.

However, because of her, I met another girl from the internet. This one was different, and we hit it off very well, and I felt that it was real and not a game. I went ahead and met her after a few months of talking, which was a feat in and of itself because I was living in North Carolina, U.S.A. and she was in Jalisco, Mexico. So, after we met, we got more serious, but still not to the point of marriage. We have been taking things slower than most. We are definitely in love now, and I would say see each other a lot even though it's expensive (I'm a programmer so I make enough money.) We are looking to marry after she finishes college, and until then, I am working on getting a new job where I can be closer to her, or make enough money to buy a house in Mexico for the weekends. I know it sounds a bit silly, but if you care about someone enough you'll do anything to make them happy. Well, ok, I wouldn't shove an animal up my butt, or drink battery acid, but I'd do quite a few unpleasant things if necessary. I prefer not to though.

Anyways, the thing is that I have dated girls in high school, college, etc. and was not very happy (other than Mr. Happy), and I've also met lots of girls online, and none have had the same effect. She helped me change from a miserable misanthropic to a happy...well, misanthropic person. But at least both her and I are happy.

[ Parent ]

Been there, doing that (3.25 / 4) (#59)
by lessthan0 on Thu Nov 30, 2000 at 08:50:06 AM EST

Well, I met my wife on IRC back in 1994. We were only 1k miles apart, but it still required plane travel to see each other. It is not easy for these relationships to work out, but I am living proof that it can work. If you want more than friendship, the meatspace interface also has to work. Finally, someone is going to have to move to where the other one is if you want what I consider a meaningful relationship. That is a huge risk, but hey, no risk, no reward. I've now been married for 4 years and have a 2 year old daughter. Things couldn't be better.

Been there doing that too! (4.00 / 1) (#62)
by Delphis on Thu Nov 30, 2000 at 11:47:01 AM EST

I also met my wife online and had a long distance relationship. I was in England though and she was in Indiana .. that's oh, 4000 miles or so? .. with water in between. We met online at the end of 1996 and we met in person in 1997. We visited back and forth as much as we could, about every 6 months or so it was. I mean, she wasn't made of money and I was but a student in England finishing my degree. Some might say that a transatlantice long distance relationship is almost impossible, but we found it doesn't have to be. Sure, many people give up but that doesn't have to be the rule. Any distance is difficult, although having to buy plane tickets to see each other DID make things more difficult too, I have to say.

Anyway, In July 1999 I emigrated over (having started the process the previous August - gotta just LOVE the INS!) and we were married on September 9th 1999. We're ever so happy together and I agree with the sentiment of the previous poster as it's how I feel too: Things couldn't be better.

For more info about immigration and 'our story' in general, have a look at my home page.

Delphis : For Pay Distributed Processing
[ Parent ]
Looks like others have had similar experiences. (2.00 / 1) (#68)
by Requiem on Fri Dec 01, 2000 at 12:08:12 AM EST

Strangely, all of my relationships have had at least some basis in the online, though I've only had two. My first one, several years ago, involved someone who I knew as an aquaintance offline, but grew to know more online, through the BBS scene which was still active in Saskatoon at the time. I got burned by that relationship, and spent the next few years single, rejecting a couple of relationships along the way because I didn't want to again be hurt like I had been.

I met my second, and most recent, ex-girlfriend through the internet, via some web-based bulletin boards. We actually live fairly close to each other - around 250km apart, which is only two and a half hours or so. The relationship didn't work, though: she had problems with the distance and commitment and so forth, and we broke it off a couple of months ago. I'm a bit disappointed, because I felt it had the potential to be a truly wonderful relationship, but there we go.

I think the reason that the online played a part in it, for me, is/was because I'm not the most outgoing person. I don't have a lot of self-confidence or self-esteem, and I also have some serious problems with anxiety (OCD). Of course, had I not rejected them, I would have had two purely-offline relationships in between the two I mentioned, so it's not like I can only meet people online - I simply find it easier because I can collect my thoughts and be more coherent and self-assured than in person.

A lot of online ppl don't even take them seriously (3.00 / 1) (#70)
by John_Booty on Fri Dec 01, 2000 at 06:27:08 AM EST

One problem with online relationships is the disposable, temporary, and experimental nature of a lot of people's online personas. For a lot of people, one of the neat things about going online is that they can play around with different personalities... or rather, different aspects of their personality. It can also be a "safe" place to cheat on their meatspace significant others (I've personally seen this a lot). One of the other big attractions is the fact that you can simply generate a new personality any time you want. On places like IRC, a new "you" is only a nick change away.

This is why I think it's harder to have a deep, meaningful relationship via the net. A lot of time, it's hard to tell if you're interacting with the "true" personality of the other person... or is it just a character they're playing? How do you know the other person isn't going to change their nick and thus possibly assume an entirely different personlity tomorrow? Even if you do have a deep meaningful relationship via the 'net, it's only going to make you long for an actual physical relationship with that person even more. I've been there, it sucks.

True, you run into similar issues in meatspace. People project false personalities all the time in meatspace. And a lot of people are true to their true identitites on the 'net. And, I think that being able to test out various parts of your personality on the 'net is definitely a very cool and healthy thing. But, in most cases, I just don't feel that's the best foundation on which to build a deep, long-term relationship.

Probably the best kind of online relationship is one that begins with people meeting and getting to know eachother online and then sort of moving onto a relationship in the "real world". The net's definitely a great place to meet a ton of people... problem is, they're often thousands of miles away. :/

And of course, there's always exceptions. I'm sure there are some really happy people out there with 'net relationships. More power to 'em. :) I don't think there's anything *wrong* with a 'net relationship, I just think it's incredibly hard.

Since '93 or so I've spent a lot of time online meeting people. First BBS's and then AOL (shudder) and then IRC, talkers, and the rest of the 'net. So hopefully I'm somewhat qualified to comment on this. Then again, having experience doesn't automatically make one any less of an idiot... heheheh. :)

Anime, game, and music reviews at www.bootyproject.org... by fans, for fans.
me, too (none / 0) (#72)
by jschauma on Fri Dec 01, 2000 at 01:49:19 PM EST

Just to get my daily dose os public exposure: I also am one of these people. 3 years ago I spent a shit lot of time in a MUD called "Realm of Magic". I met a girl, we got a long great, did some stuff we don't want to get in detail here, and exchanged email-addresses. Problem was: I lived in Germany, near Frankfurt, she lived in New York City. After half a year of emailing and chatting etc she came to visit me, I went over there (here, now), and about 3/4 of a year after I met her, I moved to NYC, where we live together since then. In the beginning we thought that it'd be weird to tell people that we met online, but actually it's not that big a deal. It's just another way for people to meet - if they get along, great. If they don't good for them that they don't have to see each other. :)
Just my $smallAmountOfLocalCurrency,


Been there, done that, got the divorce... (5.00 / 4) (#73)
by Marble on Fri Dec 01, 2000 at 03:09:16 PM EST

I've been on the net since November 1991. I started with a thing called the Haven (chat only, single server). I'm 28.

I have met all kinds of guys on the net, in all kinds of places, and met them in person after varying lengths of time of knowing them online first. I've noticed some things.

Here's my advice and my observations:

Meet as quickly as possible in real life, especially if things have taken a serious romantic or wanting-to-get-physical turn. Then you'll get the awkward meeting out of the way, and avoid some of the more rampant and unrealistic fantasizing about each other.

If you click when you meet, you're off and running, and if you don't, you'll know before you waste too much time and too much of your heart. It might hurt, but not as much as if you had built up for a much longer time before meeting in person. Trust me on this. I've made this mistake more than once.

I met my ex-husband online. It wasn't any better or worse than any other way of meeting, really. The problems that caused us to divorce didn't have anything to do with it.

When I left him, I left him for a guy I met online but hadn't yet met in person. Bad idea. I wouldn't have made this particular mistake if I'd been able to spend even a little time with him in person first.

A couple years later, I had a job and an apartment and lived on my own. I was slowly rebuilding my life, but I was lonely. I left all of that for another guy I met online, who'd visited me briefly in person. I was deluded. I gave up my whole life to be with him and move across the country, and it crumbled very quickly. No matter how much I wished that it would work, it simply didn't. I was broke, he was emotionally incapable of giving me any support, I lurched back home to mommy to recuperate yet again.

Those are just a few examples. I *did* get a little wiser over the years, mind you.

Now, I've got a 19 month old daughter, with a man I am not married to (we met at work), and I seek very soon to live under my own roof, not his. We will raise our daughter together the best we can.

I have some good online friends, and I find I have finally found a good point of balance - how much and what kind of interaction to expect from such things.

The gist is: it's not high volume, it's high quality. We talk about neat things we see and do, philosophy, stuff like that. It's no biggie when one person goes on vacation for a while, or gets busy for awhile, or whatever. Sure, we miss it a bit, but not enough to really get unhappy about it. Sometimes we talk on the phone, but we don't let it get to the point of massively crippling phone bills.

To me, this is where the balance feels most comfortable.

Sure, I sometimes consider that I might eventually desire something romantic with at least one of my online pals, but here's a powerful point: we never ever mention it. It's taboo. It would simply be utterly inappropriate until we have met in person (and I don't even know when that would be).

To me, this is a good idea. I like this strategy. Don't build any bridges that it will hurt too much to burn.

Plus, I do need to get my own shit together in many ways right now. My daughter is my biggest priority, so my plans have to be drawn around her needs, which get met first.

I don't know if it's even possible to adequately warn people about the pitfalls of online relationships ahead of time. Maybe people just have to learn by being hurt (except for the lucky ones who hit the jackpot on the first try).

I do know that long distance relationships suck rocks, and that whoever is the one who eventually moves gives up a tremendous amount. Sometimes you want to be with that other person so much that you make foolish choices that are very, very difficult to undo. Hormones can scream at you pretty loudly, as well.

Once the move is done, then it's very odd - high stakes, the one who stays put feels obligated because of the cost of the move for the other person, the one who moved has high expectations for how things should turn out.

And the longer you've been apart, the more unrealistic your ideas will be of each other. The human mind extrapolates, it can't be helped - with limited data, you can only get a certain degree of accuracy.

Good luck to anyone who tries to make a go of it. You'll need it!

And please, don't have any kids until you're damn sure that you want to be together for the very, very, very long term (and that you're both actually going to be happy that way).

That goes for any kind of relationship, and it's one mistake I wish I hadn't made. I know better now, though.


I met my wife online. (none / 0) (#74)
by Denjiro on Sat Dec 02, 2000 at 06:48:10 AM EST

I posted this exact comment to an earlier story, but as it turns out it's more appropriate to this one. Oh well. To make the story short and concise we met through ICQ. I work midnight tech support and online a lot so I left ICQ open to receive random chat requests. We chatted off and on for over a year, just friends(She had a steady boyfriend most of that year.). She was flying to visit her family around Christmas and had a layover at my local airport, so we arranged to meet. No expectations or anything. Due to the airline screwing up the layover turned out to be overnight. We went out to dinner and talked all night in her hotel room. We just kinda clicked in person. She moved in with me about a month later, and we were married a few months after that. We've been married over a year now and things are still great. I think part ofthe reason things went so well is we already knew each other from the year of chatting. So all that was left to be sorted out was the in person chemistry and to find out if in fact we both were honestly representing ourselves in our online personas.

Peer2peer (2.00 / 1) (#75)
by nukebuddy on Sat Dec 02, 2000 at 07:07:51 AM EST

Has anyone had any luck with peer2peer (networking 4 geeks)?

Meeting online ok (none / 0) (#77)
by Eivind on Mon Dec 04, 2000 at 06:36:14 AM EST

People sometimes get interested in eachothers wherever and whenever people meet. School, University, parties, work, and now the Internet.I see nothing odd about this, whenever people interact, some of them will like to interact more.

That being said I don't think /having/ a relationship by net works that well, you can meet people there, and get to know them, perhaps even fall in love, but at that point, if no sooner, you'll want to be with eachothers meatspace too.

Admittedly, I'm biased: I'm living with a wonderful Finnish girl which I met online about two years ago, and I couldn't be happier about the arragements. Luckily I'm Norwegian, and the nordic countries have complete free immigration from eachothers. (so she could come here and attend the University just like that, no paperwork wahtsoever required, she even gets free medical and all other benefits which Norwegian citicens do, except she can't vote until she's lived here for three years)

I know a few people who've fallen in love with someone where joining up meatspace is hard, like someone living far away, and in a country from which immigration ain't free. That's tricky. Typically they are allowed in (or you into their country) if you marry, but that requires marrying somoen you've not known very long meatspace, something atleast I would be kinda skeptical about unless I was _really_ sure it'd work out.

"Three thousand five hundred miles away; but what would you change, if you could?" | 78 comments (75 topical, 3 editorial, 0 hidden)
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