Avoiding online "Pseudo-Intimacy"
By Janice D. Bennett, Ph.D
If you had initially met someone in person
prior to becoming geographically separated,
then you would have some foundation from
which to build your relationship by staying
in contact virtually. However, if you instead
met someone online first, then you need
to be aware of the potential that dating
virtually, i.e., via the internet and telephone
only, can lead to the creation of a "pseudo-intimacy."
So here are a few tips to help you get the
most out of virtual dating prior to meeting
After exchanging a few emails to determine
if you want to pursue the relationship,
I suggest that you graduate to talking on
the telephone pretty quickly. Once you feel
the relationship is progressing, it's important
that you discuss when you're going to meet
If meeting in person isn't possible for
a number of weeks or months, then I suggest
that you make a schedule as to when, and
for how long, you'll talk on the phone.
You can supplement your phone calls with
email or instant messaging, as well as with
snail (postal) mail. Attempt to discuss
current events, rather than "what it'll
be like when we're together," or bemoaning
your separate geographical fate. Creating
and maintaining this type of structure over
your virtual contact should help you to
feel more in control and comfortable in
a situation where there really is no structure.
Now I can better explain what I mean when
I say that dating virtually can lead to
a "pseudo-intimacy." If you haven't met
in person, it's difficult to know if the
chemistry you feel over the phone has any
basis in reality. After all, you really
only have a picture and voice to go on!
Unfortunately, the internet and the telephone
lend themselves to create environments where
it is easier to let down your defenses,
and say things without knowing how your
message "lands" on another person.
My advice to singles who meet virtually
is to ALWAYS do whatever it takes to meet
in person, and as soon as possible. This
way, you give your feelings a chance to
"check in" with your dating partner in the
real world, which is where you're going
to live together eventually anyway, right?!