Dear Stavroula: Love in the Time of Facebook

Dear Stavroula,

I’m in love with a guy I met on Facebook. We were together in a group and he responded with humor to something I had posted. I replied to him and then we started communicating through messages. At that time, I was in a strange phase, my relationship was not working, and it made sense for me to forget about my problems talking to another person. In the beginning, we exchanged some messages occasionally, but after a while we kept “talking.” I told him everything about my life and he told me about his own, I like the way he looks at things, his wit, and his humor. We started talking on the phone, and every day I get excited just hearing the phone ring. Some days we talk for hours. Of course, I broke up with my boyfriend and it did not even bother me at all. But there is something that troubles me with my Facebook guy. We have never met. I’ve seen some of his photos, but every time I ask him to meet me in person (we live in different cities), he constantly finds excuses to avoid it. I have told him I have feelings for him, and he told me that he felt the same, but why does he not want to meet me then?

Michelle

Dear Michelle,

Relationships via the Internet are certainly charming but also very dangerous. You do not write to me how old you are, but from your letter I conclude that you are a very young girl and I would advise you to be careful.

At a time when you lacked communication, you met a man online who fulfilled that need somehow. Your relationship was not going well, you needed to fall in love and feel some feelings and you did when you were given the opportunity. That’s why I would like you to think about some things.

First, have you really fallen in love with a man you have never seen, with whom you have not experienced real-life moments and that you only know him virtually? Or have you projected your need to fall in love onto him? Maybe in your relationship you lacked interest, human communication, an essential psychic connection, and you were looking for it desperately?

The internet allows people, in particular, the most shy and introverted, to communicate more easily, since they feel that they can “open up” because this type of communication gives the feeling that we are talking to ourselves. That’s why many people think they communicate effectively and mentally with people they meet only online. But how real is that? How can you know that the other person is honest with you when you do not know him in his real life? How can you know that the image he presents is true and not a fake self he made up by studying what you upload to the internet so you would like him?

In addition, anybody can hide behind the anonymity of the internet, and this sometimes may end up being dangerous. If you want my own opinion, you should not seek a meeting with someone you do not know personally and are not sure about his identity and who he is.

You write to me that he avoids meeting you. Why do you think this is happening? Is he in a committed relationship and does not want to break it off? Is his external appearance different from what you see in the photos and is he ashamed of it? Is he not the age he has told you but much older or younger?

I would advise you, therefore, to think about it long and hard before you decide to continue your online relationship. Do not deprive yourself of the beauty of someone embracing you who really cares about you, stands by your side, and holds your hand through the good times and the bad. And do not be disappointed if one or more of your relationships did not work out well. It’s up to you to find out what went wrong and do not repeat it.