On Virtual Relationships and “Fake Internet Love”
What is love, anyway? It’s an age-old question, pondered by greater minds than my own. But my recent experiences have given me my own perspective on a subject that often defies explanation.
We all understand typical notions of romance, courtship, dating, and relationships. Boy meets girl (or boy meets boy, or girl meets girl), face to face. An attraction is formed, sometimes based on physical characteristics, sometimes on personality, sometimes on a combination of the two. After the initial attraction, the couple goes on to get to know each other better by dating, and after some time decides whether or not they’re compatible emotionally, intellectually, etc. Even if, initially, there seems to be true compatibility, it doesn’t always last. People change. The looks that attracted you might disappear. Or maybe they were projecting a persona that was not the real them in order to keep their relationship going. It is possible to spend years with another person and not really know them. You can be in a traditional relationship and still feel very much alone because there’s no deeper connection.
It is, then, quite surprising that, despite the frequent failures of traditional relationships, people would still cast a skeptical eye upon “online romance”. I’m not talking about using dating sites to purposefully find a mate. I mean when two people share a common interest or activity, like a particular game or social media site, they become friends online, and an attraction forms between them, many times with no real knowledge of physical appearance. Given the high failure rate of traditional relationships that start with physical nearness but end with incompatibilities, you would think that such “internet dating” would gain more mainstream acceptance. Yet it’s often mocked and ridiculed. I see people jokingly refer to Twitter crushes, or smirk about “fake internet love”. Technology is isolating us, they say. Put down your computers or phones and talk to real people, they say. A virtual relationship isn’t the “real” thing, they say.
Why should this be? That we’re even capable of falling in love with someone based on their personality, sense of humor, intelligence, or affection seems inherently more significant than dating someone just because they’re “cute”. The attachment that develops via an online relationship is no less real than a more traditional relationship, and I would hold that the bond can be deeper, more honest, and more true. It isn’t contingent on the possibility of wooing someone into having sex, it isn’t tainted by the shallowness of physical attraction. In my opinion, and now in my own personal experience, love that develops through an internet romance can be the love of your life because it has developed for all the right reasons, not all the wrong ones.
Add common interests to that, and you’ve really got the basis for a relationship worth having. My own, very “real” boyfriend came from my interaction with the WoW/Twitter community. We share interests (gaming), a similar sense of humor (or at least an appreciation of each other’s humor), and discovered, via text and Skype conversations, that we share similar views on life, love, and happiness. He lives on the opposite side of the country from me. But technology brought us together, and allowed us to develop a real relationship without any outside pressures. We were “friends” for a while before I realized I had formed a more romantic attachment to him and found the nerve to tell him how I felt about him. We were an “online couple” for 3 1/2 months before we finally met face to face. At our initial meeting, no time was lost getting to know each other; by this point, we were already well acquainted. That meeting didn’t make our relationship finally “real”. It just cemented what we already knew to be true. And it has strengthened our commitment not only to each other, but to one day eliminate that distance so that technology is no longer necessary to continue our relationship. But I’ll never forget the gift that technology gave me: my own true love.
Love can be anywhere. It can be found right next to you at a party, or online in an internet chat room. It doesn’t matter where you find it, just that you do find it at all. Don’t let friends, family, or society dictate to you where you should find yours, or you could miss out on the chance of a lifetime, and miss out on someone who could be the love of your life.
Happily ever after…
Posted on January 31, 2014, in Gaming, World of Warcraft and tagged courtship, dating, romance, World of Warcraft. Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.
Really nice post and I agree with you! I met my boyfriend trough WoW bit over a year ago (we were actually in same guild in classic but both of us were in relationship etc). He lived in another country so I didn’t think it would get that serious. But we met and we both knew that it’s serious. I moved to Sweden in last April 🙂 I also know quite a lot of couples that have met trough WoW 🙂
Really nice post and I agree with you! I met my boyfriend trough WoW year and a half ago (we were actually in same guild in classic, but both of us were in relationship etc). We started talking more when I broke up with my ex. I wasn’t thinking anything serious would happen since he lived in another country. First time I visited him we both knew that this is serious. I found my other half ❤ I spent Christmas here and then in last April I moved here permanently 🙂 best decision of my life. I also know a lot of couples that have met trough WoW, some of them are not together due difficulties of long distance relationship but some of them,like me, changed country or their city 🙂 (sorry if you get this comment twice, my phone is acting up a bit ^^)
No problem, phones like to try to embarrass us, don’t they? :p
Indeed, starting out, it didn’t seem like my relationship would become this serious. It taught me a lot about the true nature of love and commitment. We’re working out how we’re going to eventually bring our lives together. It’s going to take a little time, but he keeps telling me we have all the time in the world, he’s not going anywhere. And reading your comment, about how you changed your situation, makes me smile and gives me hope and encouragement! Thank you! 🙂
I never understood why people feel ashamed to say they met someone online. My best friend said she couldn’t tell anyone but me that she met one of her ex-boyfriends on a dating site, she was completely ashamed by the thought of others knowing how they met. I just baffles me
Maybe it’s because I was brought up in a very computer/internet savvy house hold, but I see no difference between my friends, though others would separate them to ‘real life’ and ‘online’. I met my boyfriend of 8 years in a chatroom back in 2001, we were friends for years before dating in 2007. I’m never ashamed to tell people how we met, because I believe it was truely remarkable that we by chance found each other in a random chat room when we were 12-13 years old.
The internet is an amazing tool for bringing people together who would have otherwise never been able to be due to living in different countries or states.
I wish you and your boyfriend all the happiness in the world Lilu!
Thank you! It’s definitely been an experience, but one I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world!
This is simply spot on. Thank you for writing this on the web. The world needs to pick up a lesson or two and open their eyes to the true value of online relationships as they can be as real as any relationship gets
Thank you for the compliment! As of now, we’re coming up on 6 months and still going strong. I think more people might find truly compatible mates if they gave the online experience a chance.
As of March 21st, 2015, this relationship lost its long distance status when my boyfriend moved in with me here. Naturally, this has been a major transition, with ups and downs, but overall we’re doing well and the future looks bright.