Saturday, January 26, 2013

Questions You Must Ask About Your Online Relationships

If you had no doubts before, surely after the Manti Te'o fiasco you are taking a hard look at your online relationships. Let me say that I'm no online prude. I have clients I work with who I've never met offline. I've had virtual assistants I've never even spoken with on the phone. I've done online dating and talked to high school boyfriends online. I've taken virtual classes and have colleagues I've "met" in those classes who I've never met in person. All of that is fine. I do try to recognize these relationships for what they are, and accept their limitations. I'm suggesting you try to do the same.

Let's do a little Q & A.

·         Q. Should I be concerned that he doesn't want to meet me offline?

 A. Yes! You should absolutely be concerned if he only wants to talk online. Not wanting a real face-to-face says he definitely has something to hide. It could be the same thing that explains why he's never available in the evening or on the weekend. Someone who doesn't want to meet you is not a boyfriend, friend or any other type of intimate. They're just someone you talk to online.

·         Q. Why am I always the one initiating contact?

 A. Great question. Why are you always the one waiting for the magic "ping" signaling contact from this person? You're waiting because you've stopped living your life and you're living for a person you hardly know. I know, when you contact him he's quick to respond and flirt. It's still a sign that he might not be that into you. In fact, it's a sign that he's likely not that into you. Set a timeframe during which the relationship has to progress. If it doesn't, it's time to move on.

·         Q. Am I spending too much time with people online?

 A. Maybe. Your high school boyfriend who you haven't seen in 15 years is not your boyfriend. Why are you spending hours chatting him up online? It didn't work out the first time, right? You might consider what you are not doing that you would be doing if you spent less time online.  Like having dinner with your friends or working out at the gym where you might meet a real person. Consider adopting a rule of spending at least as much time with real-life friends as on-line friends. You can also try a little technology cleanse.

·         Q. How long do I go without a face-to-face?

 A. I'm talking in person, not Face Timing or Skyping. What are you getting out of the online contact and what are you missing out on? One recent study concluded that only real-life friends lead us to feel happier. Another study found that you can have a lot of online friends, but you won't feel supported by them the same way you do by your real-life friends. Online chats, texts and even phone calls are for getting to know someone. Once that's done, it's time to move on and meet up, or end it.

·        Q. Why can't I find him on Goggle?

 A. Not everyone has a huge internet presence, but you can tell where they ought to show up. Someone who graduates from Stanford should appear on an alumni list and a professional should be listed on a licensing website. The absence of this type of confirmation ought to raise your suspicions. You can always ask the person about it. Any reasonable person meeting online would understand your desire for a little concrete validation that they're who they say they are. After all, people lie.

 Ask yourself these questions and answer them honestly. Then move away from any imaginary boyfriends you uncover and keep it real.
This article was originally published at YourTango.

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