Internet Romances

Excerpted from Chapter 13 of ‘The Love Crisis Survival Guide.’

Most of my clients are straight women, and that group is whom I will be addressing in terms of the gender references made throughout the following article. However, if you are a straight male or you are homosexual, the dynamics explained throughout this book may still apply, because love is universal.

In this day and age of a computer-oriented era, online relationships are as convenient as they are seductive. Interacting parties tend to feel safe revealing certain areas of their lives to each other when they can hide behind the keyboard and shut off the equipment at any given time. Therefore, a bond of intimate communication can be easily formed between practical strangers in cyberspace.

Dating and networking websites are a breeding ground for fantasy. The internet allows men and women to put their best foot forward and only showcase qualities that they wish for others to see. It is impossible to understand how a person behaves in real time flesh and blood based on their online persona.

Some men may seem very genuine, caring, and attentive during an instant messaging chat session, but after they end the conversation with you they may turn around and say the same things to a number of different women. You don’t really know who he is, for sure, beyond what he chooses to show you.

Infatuation colored glasses can cause a person to dream up lot of excuses to keep the excitement alive in a romantic internet connection. Even when we are being selective and guarded, it is naïve to give a man that we have only corresponded with online and by telephone the benefit of the doubt when it comes to his relationship integrity. I’m not suggesting that you assume the worst about him; rather, I am asking you to assume nothing for certain.

When couples spend most of their time communicating online, the keyboard can create a comfort zone that not everyone wants to expand into a real life arena. To treat your emotional investments with care, I would strongly suggest that you limit the amount of online chat time with a perceived potential partner to roughly ten minutes a day, three times a week. This self-disciplinary strategy will help to keep you from becoming too dependent on the chats for your emotional stimulation.

If you already are emotionally dependent on the online chats, limiting them is one of the first actions you can take that will help you to break that habit. If you are simply looking for a casual friendship or a temporary cyber fling with no strings attached, then these precautions are not necessary for you.

When a client begins to develop an online infatuation, I will often tell her to meet the man of interest in person if he will cooperate, at a neutral public place where she can stay alert, before she falls too deeply in love. Breaking the anonymity in real time will dispel a lot of inaccurate preconceived notions one might be apt to fall in love with over the computer screen. If the situation becomes uncomfortable in person, she can always excuse herself from the date, and chalk it all up to a learning experience.

Although many people do meet someone online and get married, most internet romances do not go as planned. Beware of the tendency to concoct an image of the future in your mind. It is important to resist the urge to speculate about the destination of a budding romantic connection, whether it begins on the internet or not.

One of the most difficult aspects of an online breakup is the feeling of not having had a fair opportunity to sail across the full potential of a relationship before its ship has sunk. Most of us who have faced the ending of a love affair that had a significant amount of physical distance involved understand the dynamic of unexplored territory. The unfulfilled curiosities of an unrequited connection that once seemed so promising can create an insatiable desire for resolution or closure that won’t let a woman get a decent night’s sleep!

Even when non-internet related, real time relationships break up, the haunting desire for closure often handicaps the host, temporarily keeping her from being able to move on to greater things in life. The cold, hard truth of the matter is that no one else is truly responsible for our own sense of closure. Closure is something that happens on the inside of you, deep down underneath your emotional longings. Closure happens when you release the need for his permission to move on, his approval, his understanding, his karmic payback, or anything else that involves him as a participant.