Before technology, people met in school, or through a friend or family member. You would go out on a date, walk along a lake, have a picnic, or see a movie. You see the person face to face. Can reach out and touch them. As technology started to change, so has the way people meet each other and fall in love.
The early days of chat rooms, you would find hundreds of people in different rooms talking in local chat, or in private chat with someone. This form of chatting (text chat) allowed the person to share their picture, and vise versa. At the time there was no web camera, or skype, or ability to live broadcast yourself. Text chatting was a simple way of expressing yourself in just text alone, and allowed you to be who you wanted to be behind the keyboard. If you took part in the chat rooms such as Yahoo Chat or AOL, you would find most were just looking for a quick hookup and moved on to the next chatter.
Is it possible to fall in love with someone you have never seen before? Can you truly fall in love behind a keyboard? With virtual worlds, this gave anyone the ability to create a virtual representation of who they wanted to be. As time progressed, so did the ability to look more realistic with the introduction of mesh, and the animations of bento brought the avatar to more realism.
Many people have found that special someone they spend many hours each day with. They explore together, chat together, dance together, cuddle together. Is the feelings real? Some experts say communicating online before meeting IRL (that’s In Real Life) can actually foster strong relationships by helping those with similar interests come together over great distances. Potential lovers overlook superficial turnoffs, and people open up to each faster and more deeply.
Some research also suggests that chatting online first can have a beneficial effect on face-to-face relationships. IThe Web allowed participants to pare away interpersonal distractions and focus on communicating openly and honestly.
According to recent posts by dating websites, approximately 15 to 20% of all online relationships lead to marriage. Marriage experts agree that there are a few benefits with online dating that far outweigh traditional dating. For example, many people find it easier to be more vulnerable with their emotions online, and the courtship’s can last longer for couples that talk online. Experts agree that having intimacy and sex before you know the person well can damage the relationship. Depending on when the meet up happens, these couples may actually know one another on a more intimate level than people who date face to face.
As one person stated:
Assuming that a couple has met over the Internet or over the phone, the more interesting thing that I’d like to know is: what would be their reaction when they do in fact meet in person for the first time. You may like their thoughts/views on various subjects and like the online person you’ve met, but what if the person turns out to be, well, not as attractive physically when you first meet them. Can you overlook that fact and love them the same way as you did before you met?
Even though most people say (to be politically correct more than anything else) that outward beauty doesn’t matter to them, generally most people value beauty in a potential partner. So, while it is possible that you can fall in love with someone you’ve never met in person, it is not as possible to predict whether you would in fact remain in love with that person once you’ve met them, especially if that person turns out to be not so attractive (based on your standards of attractiveness).
Also, when you do in fact meet a person face-to-face, you may discover many things about him/her that you hadn’t quite anticipated. Perhaps, he/she has some embarrassing habits that you hadn’t quite anticipated, or perhaps he/she has some irritating quality that wasn’t apparent to you before through his/her online persona. So, while you can fall in love with someone you’ve never met, whether you stay in love with that person is quite another matter.
There is also the potential problem of anonymity and people who mask their true identities online. You may have very good, honest, genuine intentions and want real love, but can you be really sure that the other person with whom you are chatting to or speaking with shares those intentions? For all you know, the other person may be twice the age he/she actually claims to be, he/she may be married and claim to be single, they may be showing you pictures of someone else but may claim that the person in the picture is in fact them. How can you be sure?
The online world is a world of escape for some people and many just come online to live a world they can’t live in the real world. So, they may just log in and claim to be someone who they are not, but you have no way of knowing that. To me, this is the biggest problem that a person who connects with another person online faces.
So, while you may fall in love with someone you’ve never met physically (and it is quite possible), the more important question that you should be asking is if you truly have fallen in love with a real person (who exists in the real world) or an online mirage that’s a figment of someone’s imagination — someone who is just in it for the fun of it, maybe just to find someone to get physical with, or someone who is not as serious about finding love as you are?
Another person stated the following:
What I have experienced is you meet people you develop a friendship for them. You fantasize based on what they tell you and the pictures you see. You build your relationship through fantasy and words you connect that with mental and emotional feelings. With that being said mentally and emotionally I believe you can form enough attachment to fall in love.
But I think you have to grow physically. Who can really call it true love with out passion. Passion meaning giving yourself physically as well. There has to be an attraction there. There also has to be trust. Without either how can you give yourself totally and uninhibited to be able to grow into a deep meaningful relationship?
And a commenter on a blog stated the following:
It can happen….love doesn’t always have to include the physical. It is the connection that makes it work or not.
I never met my man before we made commitments. We talked about everything under the sun, including the possibility of one of us not being honest about how we looked or even who we are. We did talk on the phone, which I think is the key….not just typing.
BUT, if you are going to base most of your emotion on the physical aspects, then you won’t fall. Try the equivalent of a blind person talking to someone. They have to use their other senses to make up for the visual to form an opinion. I found that without the distractions of regular dating scenarios, I was able to get to know him better and more quickly than if we had had 100 dinners together. Coupled with the range of topics we explored, I knew what kind of person he was before meeting. How many dates can you say that about?
If he was the wrong person, I didn’t have the “Blinded By Sex” part of the equation to deal with….
My own thoughts:
I have met many people on-line who have fallen in love. Many have even made the change in life to be with the person they have known for months on-line. Like real life, sometimes it works out and sometimes it does not. No one can truly predict the outcome when two people finally meet face to face. You can fall in love even before you meet that someone. The ability to share in a virtual world a hug, a dance, a way to explore, to cuddle and share your feelings through virtual gifts such as a ring, flowers and even a virtual wedding.
Your gut feeling and your heart will know. You can pretty well tell if it’s worth pursuing based on the feeling you get from the other person. Are they moving to quickly? Have they become over bearing? Stalking? Jealous? Yes, you can have feelings for someone without ever seeing them face to face. And if it’s meant to be, you can fall in love. Thousands have before and thousands more will. Never let anyone tell you it is not possible.
Of course, many prefer to keep a relationship within the bounds of Second Life and other virtual worlds. They either are married in real life, or already have someone in real life. Virtual worlds gives people the ability to live a fantasy. The ability to enjoy the intimacy, the compassion and the ability to share their thoughts of how they see that perfect relationship. This is your virtual fantasy, the ability to be who you want to be, and do things that you may never have ever dared to try in real life.
Depending on what you are looking for, either it is the possibly of going beyond the bounds of the virtual world into real life, or keeping it within the virtual world, you can fall in love regardless of what path you choose to take.