Online love is a weird concept.
How can you fall in love with someone online without meeting them? Surely that’s not love but merely infatuation? Or is it? Maybe it is possible to find what most people believe impossible. Wouldn’t that be a beautiful but strange connection?
It’s easy to get caught up with an online romance that catches you unaware. The person’s words can sound like poetry ringing in your ears, caressing your eardrums with a punchy delight—every phrase designed to weaken your knees as you slowly succumb. You find yourself falling in love with some words carefully crafted and a few photos to look at.
Has society gotten us so fixated on the online world that our brains now dictate that these most precious of emotions can be felt virtually? Let’s look at the facts, shall we?
According to Aaron Ben-Ze’ev, a philosophy professor at the University of Haifa and author of the book Love Online: Emotions on The Internet:
“Online technology, as well as SMS, enables having a connection that is faster and more direct. “It also enables ongoing dialogue as compared to the slow interactions that are typical of letters.”
Translation: while it may have taken months to a year for couples to communicate and therefore grow closer in the past, today, we can have lengthy, deep interactions with a stroke of a key (or touchscreen).
That’s quite a scary thought, isn’t it? The reality of traditionally meeting someone while relaxed in a cyberspace of virtual connections.
But that’s great, right? Another avenue for love to blossom for the right people (the keyword there is “right”)?
What if that other person is married? What if it’s someone searching for an emotional gap to be fulfilled or maybe to gain what’s missing in their life? You start to create an online lust and love-filled romance; you totally release your heart as you smash down your walls with a thunderous delight knowing this person is your lobster.
The plans are made—the fantasies of meeting your true love explode over the screen like an explosion of rainbows and puppies. All the things in the world that make your heart melt—as well as all the things you lustfully desire as the photos get raunchier and the video chats take on a whole new level.
You share all of your most intimate details as you invert yourself for them, everything on the inside pouring out as they take it in. They inhale the information you give them. Every memory you have is another way they can keep you longer in this game. (Do you see where this is going?)
But it’s not always a game, and the reality of love is getting very real, and feelings are as real as touching a flower in bloom, beautiful recognition of the beauty of nature.
Eventually, you make plans to meet. The day draws closer, but something feels off—something is changing. You realise that what you have, the deepest of connections, might be a one-way street, and there was no way they were ever going to leave their partner/husband/wife.
All you were, in reality, was a person to fill an emotional gap. Something was missing in their relationship, and here you are: open and receptive to the true possibilities of love only to be used and thrown away as they stay in their lives looking for another person to fill that missing piece of their emotional puzzle.
However, on the flip side, they may have true feelings that have smashed them hard in the gut also. Maybe all the things they confessed were real to them. Maybe the feelings they are confessing in their confessional box at the altar of your heart are genuine. This is where lines get blurred, and you try and decipher what is real and what is not—praying that the angels are truly smiling. Fate casts its dice, and you’re hoping for snake eyes.
This is a real situation that can happen.
This represents a risk inherent in this kind of relationship: having your expectations raised due to an intense online connection, only to have them crash to the ground. Risk versus rewards in this game is real.
Is this a game you really want to play? Or, is the game not a game at all, and the real game is the Cupid shooting arrows at both of your hearts? Smiling as they hit with joyful glee and you melt at the knees of Cupid’s desire.
I’m not saying, “Avoid making online connections.” They can be marvelous experiences while they last. But I would recommend trying to meet each other before your feelings become so intense that you’ll be seriously heartbroken if that initial meeting doesn’t go well.
I would avoid overseas online relationships, especially as the world isn’t fully accessible right now. And (obviously) avoid people in marriages like the plague unless you are totally sure the person in question is sure of their feelings.
For the single people out there, think of it as having a crush for a long time: you may idealize someone to such an extent that when you finally get to meet them, you can’t help but be disappointed by who you actually meet. In the case of online relationships, you do get to know a lot about each other, but you may still idealize the rest, including the aspects of them that might make the difference between fireworks and heartbreak.
Online relationships are a toss of the coin.
Heads: you fall deeply in love—all you have desired is awaiting you.
Tails: you’re going to have your heart shattered into a million pieces.
Are you the type of person who likes to gamble?