Today is a day to sleep in. Or to burrow beneath the comforter and read. With a kitty or two nearby. Maybe even to make blueberry muffins. Not the kitties, me. Anyway...
I have two friends who are going through some hard times lately. Not with each other. Separate friends, separate issues. I feel a bit helpless as to how to make them feel better, or give good advice.
One issue has to do with the internet, and that got me thinking, so I’ll share a bit with you. Actually, it is the combination of my friend’s issue and a journal I read the other day on http://www.radioparadise.com/. Here’s the problem. My friend is dating a wonderful woman. He really digs her. They have been dating for some time, maybe a year. Both are caring, intelligent adults. They treat each other well, have tons of fun together, enjoy spending time together and continually make efforts to make things work between them – but they have a trust issue that has come from some of her internet behavior. Specifically, seeking out IM’s and e-mails from members of the opposite sex with whom she doesn’t already have established, platonic friendships.
Question: How does the internet fit in to trust issues within relationships – (romantic/partnering relationships)?
I have a personal story dated back to 1997 that I will share with you as an example of this touchy issue between trust and the internet within relationships. Bare with me.
I was in the early-mid stages of an exclusive dating relationship with S, a guy I cared about a lot. We had a very easy-going, fun, secure relationship had many mutual interests and encouraged those interests we didn’t share in the other. We had spent a lot of time together alone, we knew each others family by this point, and really liked where things were headed for us. S was a lot more computer and internet savvy than I was at the time. I had just purchased my first computer and was finding my way around the internet for the first time. He had lots of friends online that he IM’ed with, both male and female – though the females outnumbered the males. I had and have many male friends, too so S’s friendships with females wasn’t really an issue for me. However, I had some kind of nagging feeling that sometimes things weren’t always as innocent as they seemed. One day, he left his e-mail open on my computer after he had left. I admit now, as I did then, that I had no business opening any of his e-mails…but my curiosity was aroused because of the e-mail address accompanying one of the e-mails, it was something like “welcome to adultfriendfinder.com” or “webpersonals.com”. I thought to myself, “WHAT?? Why is he on a personal ads side when he’s dating me?? What IS this?” and so, yes, to my shame, I read the e-mail which was a confirmation of a subscription to a dating site with his username and password. More to my shame, I signed in and saw his ad. I was shocked, saddened, and angry all at the same time. In retrospect, the right thing to have done at this point would have been to own up to my snooping, confront him and discuss this turn of events and any problems or issues that may have been going on in our relationship that I was oblivious to – that led him to placing this ad, and decide to work on fixing things or to call it quits.
But that’s not what happened.
I called my best friend who was outraged for me, she advised that he was not to be trusted, and if I simply told him what happened, confronted him – how would I know he wouldn’t continue doing this? Wouldn’t he turn the tables on me and say that I was in the wrong for snooping to begin with and this was his personal property that I invaded? Instead, she suggested the following plan which we executed: place an ad of my own on the same site so that I could respond to his ad, and after some traded e-mails, suggest an in-person meeting place and time, print out the traded e-mails and internet personal ads, show up with these and catch him in the act. Sort of a version of the Pina Colada song gone bad. So, I did. If I expected to feel better or justified, I didn’t. Of course, he tried to turn the tables on me – I did invade his privacy, but which is the worse action: invading privacy or seeking out attention outside of a relationship?
The end of my story went like this: we argued, we cried, we both talked about trust, we spent the night apart to think things through, we resumed the relationship for several months after that, but it ended the next year.
It happens. We know this. Innocent flirting online can lead to other things. Sometimes it’s totally innocent and sometimes it’s not. Where are the lines? Sometimes innocent flirting leads to good things. I met my fiancé from an online dating site about 2 years ago and we’re going to the Bahamas in two weeks to get married. A couple members of Radioparadise.com have met there, developed a friendship that morphed into something much, much more meaningful and life changing, too.
Sure, there are probably lots of articles on this issue, nowadays. What does everyone here feel about the issue of the internet and trust? If you’re in an established relationship – is it OK to seek out flirtatious friendships with others online? What if you’re confronted by your significant other and they see this as a problem for them or a trust issue? Has anyone ever weathered this storm and had a positive outcome? Can it be done?
The other friend’s issue has to do with a much loved cat who is having kidney failure. Maybe pets will be the topic of the next posting.