Love Online

Everyone is heading to the Net in droves to seek out Love, Romance and Sex!! It is becoming a totally acceptable and legitimate form of dating. No longer do we have to go to bars and clubs to meet our perfect match - we can find them from the comfort of our own home. All we need is a dial up connection and a crash course in cyber talk!

I won't bore you with the usual 'Dangers of Internet Dating' spiel. I think most people are fairly well educated about these. What I find interesting is the blank slate quality that the internet provides. In many ways it mirrors the earliest form of therapeutic relationship developed by Freud. What Freud would do is get the person to lie down on a couch, and he would sit behind them; completely out of sight of the person. He did this so that the individual could freely project all their personal complexes onto him without their sense of him as a person getting in the way!!

The internet has this same potential - although not quite to the same extent because the person is responding. But even though you are interacting with someone, they are not sitting in front of you, you cannot see them which means that you are losing all the signals you would normally get from their body language, their tone of voice, the way they are dressed etc, etc. The most obvious example is that someone can tell you they are a female when in fact they are a male, or someone can tell you they are 25 when in fact they are 45!!

The more subtle process here is that it is much easier to project onto someone the exact qualities we want to find - because there is so much less information to challenge it! We already have a tendency to focus on the positive qualities when we meet someone - this is endearingly referred to as the Romantic Phase of a relationship. We forget to notice the things that aren't quite sitting right and overemphasize the things that we like. With an online relationship these tendencies are accentuated. On top of this we have a tendency to let our usual guards down much faster due to the safe feeling of anonymity that the internet provides and so both parties reveal a lot more in a highly condensed time frame.

This is why, within 4 or 5 chats with someone, exchanging maybe only 1000 words, you can feel like you have found your perfect match. This is how powerful our human need to believe in the possibility of LOVE is; we all carry around a High Dream for romantic love. There is nothing wrong with that - but it can be like a gigantic spider's web that is impossible to see and so we walk right into it - and then before we know it, we are captured!! Our emotions have already started to respond and they can be impossible to recover. You have already told yourself you have found 'The One' and that's a hard story to back out of!!

If you are considering dating online or have already started, remember that until you meet someone in the flesh it is impossible to know if the relationship can work… For a start you need to find out if there is a physical attraction. Not to mention do you get along? Can you talk with each other? Do you share similar goals and lifestyles? Are you sexually compatible?

It is really important to be clear about your needs and wants from a date or a relationship. I suggest keeping these thoughts in your awareness, perhaps even writing them down, and then checking in honestly as you go along: Does this person meet my expectations? Are my needs being met? Are there any doubts or reservations that I've not acknowledged?

My advice: Proceed with caution and you'll be more likely to have a successful dating experience!!

Words by Michelle McClintock

Posted on 20 May 2005