Cyber Romance: Fact or Myth

Anonymity in cyberspace romance questions the sincerity of virtual goers in their attempt to find love on the internet.

You are hopelessly smitten with the most wonderful guy who has ever come within your radius of space. He’s incredibly sweet and romantic, and he can’t stop saying how much he adores and loves you. You gush to your friends about how perfect your relationship with him is. There is only one problem. You’ve never met him personally. 

Every relationship has its hurdles and challenges. There are couples who falter under the brunt of petty fights and fits of jealousy. There are others who realize that their feelings for their respective partners have waned. Yet we must understand that most relationships involve expectation, mostly about faithfulness and sacrifice. However, what of a relationship built on a conversation over the ‘Net? Is the expectation level still the same? In the midst of technological breakthoughs and fanciful ideals, can love truly conquer the barriers inherent in electronic communication?

According to College of Liberal Arts (CLA) guidance counselor Jun Rayco, Internet relationships are popular because of the youth’s fascination with technology. Access is effortless; with a click of the mouse, you can interact with different people without leaving the privacy of a comfortable room. The wonders of cyberspace alleviate the shyness of people who have trouble communicating verbally. 

Just a mouse click away

Danny, a 19-year-old college freshman, has had a Canadian cyber girlfriend, Sandy, for about three and a half months. After first two weeks of chatting, they agreed to be a couple. Unfortunately, up till now, she refuses to send him a picture. Danny does not want to force the issue. It does not really bother him since he’s not all that serious about the relationship, which he expects won’t last more than six months. But he wonders about Sandy. “I don’t know if she’s serious about us because we haven’t talked about it. We just have fun whenever we chat. I like her because she shares the same interests as I do… But no one expects an online relationship to develop further than in cyberspace.”

According to Rayco, whether or not a cyber relationship lasts depends on the level of seriousness accepted by both parties. Ideally they have a mutual understanding about the reality of their situation, whether they can explore their relationships further. It also depends whether one party is more serious about the relationship than the other, as it is possible that one of them is involved in other cyber relationships. Naturally this will hurt the other party, who may want exclusivity.

Hopelessly hooked

While Danny considers his cyber relationships as a fling, Odessa is serious about Al, her cyber boyfriend of six months. After less than two months of chatting, they became a couple and talked everday on ICQ.  “I love him because, aside from being nice and sweet, he’s also a good listener. Above anything else, he respects me,” she says.

Unlike Danny and Sandy, Odessa and Al don’t have that much in common. Says Odessa, “I judge things by what he says and not by what he looks like or by how he acts, which is better because some couples are affected by physical appearances or manners.” Odessa claims that she would not be influenced by her physical expectations of him if they were to meet one day. Having received a picture from him, she does know what he looks like, and believes that meeting in person would not change the mental image she has of him.

Odessa does not want to date other people but admits that Al doesn’t have the same plans about exclusivity. “He doesn’t want to close the door on anything, and I understand him since I know that things may not work out for the best.” In the meantime their relationship is much like one a “traditional” couple would have, with occasional fights, bickering, and constant e-mail of sweet nothings. The foundation of their love, she says, is built on trust and steady, open communication. Naturally she wishes to see him in person, but Odessa accepts that the distance and expense may mean she may never get to see him. 

Wanna chat?

While Danny and Odessa clearly do not meet eye to eye, what do other people think of cyber relationships?

Rye, for one, believes that cyber relationships are hopeless since it is impossible to fully know a person when your only means of communication is the Internet. Howie is of the same opinion. “(They) won’t work out because one, it’s easy to lie on the Internet and, two, you’ll never know the person thoroughly because you’ll never see his or her actions or body language.” 

Michelle thinks that cyber matches are mostly made for fun. She explains, “It’s scary to tell anyone whom you’ve never seen or met anything about yourself. Sometimes, I make up stuff for the person I’m chatting with, and I think that person is doing the same thing. What more if you actually agree to have a relationship with him?” Meanwhile, Bea opines, “There are so many things that are present in normal relationships but are absent in cyber ones, like meeting in person or holding each other’s hand.”

Granted, there is a certain thrill in preserving an Internet romance, stemming from the mystery of each other’s personality and the endless possibilities that abound from anonymity. According to Rayco, however, a non-cyber relationship is the best kind since the absence of sensual contact hinders people online from completely empathizing with each other. Furthermore, although the Internet is an effective venture for clear interchange, it still provides “an incomplete picture of (people).” Also, while lying on the ‘Net is not explicitly prohibited, some lack even basic human decency about lies. 

Tales of romantic love are always titillating, even more so when the experiences shared are unique— making you think romance is not dead after all, even when the conditions make the existence of the relationship difficult to justify. In extraordinary circumstances such as those of a liaison on the electronic highway, chances of betrayal are multiplied… the already thin and taut thread of trust between lovers is stretched a little more. Still, we can always hope for the possibility of real, honest communication coupled with the mutual attraction of two people clicking instantly.

But it takes a truly discerning soul to distinguish what counts as honest tenderness from electronic lies.

Cloverly-Bee Pe

By Cloverly-Bee Pe

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