Thursday, September 21, 2006

Random Thoughts

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 fiancĂ© 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.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

I flirt, chase, rollick etc, with women on the Internet. I love women. I also have been married to the same woman since the year 1015. She doesn't bother with the Internet at all.

She has known since before we married that I loved women. Her attitude is that she prefers it that way. I go out with friends, and she says don't come home with a disease. I was once engaged to 45 different "girlfriends" and I married them all at a party one night.

The same girlfriends have all met my wife, and generally ask me how to have a long lasting marriage (our 1000th year anniversary will be in 2015, hope you make the dinner, we need someone to pay for it). Individually, we blame the other one. After the first 900 years, it's not the sex anymore.

I think she has it figured out that the marriage ends when one of us dies. That must be it.

rebecca said...

LOL you are precious. and i'm thrilled that you love women and that i'm lucky to be one of your harem.

i totally wish everyone had relationships like yours. life would be so much easier!

Mississippi Songbird said...

This article you have written was very interesting and I'm so sorry you had to go thru it. You're right about on-line relationships.. They CAN be powerful.. I used to have doubts but not any longer..
Thanks for sharing this .I know it could not have been an easy thing to do..
Who knows how we would react to something like that? Hindsite is 20/20

Congratulations on the upcoming wedding! :hug::hug:

Alison said...

When a partner in a relationship seeks out flirtatious contact on the internet, there IS a problem. It might just be a personal issue for your friend's girlfriend -- she may need constant attention or approval. I mean, she may not really be looking for another man.

When a member of the opposite sex notices you, it feels good. She may crave that feeling, so she actively seeks it.

That's about all I have to say about it. I don't know what I would do in that situation. I hope that your friend can find a way to deal with this, because I don't know that the relationship can last if the issue ISN'T dealt with.

rebecca said...

alison - i agree with you. i think this means there are more issues to be dealt with.

Zissy said...

It's funny you bring this up because just the other day I received an email that was cc'd to me from Glenn to someone he plays Everquest 2 with and they were talking about how relationships in the game have hurt many relationships in realtime and he was telling her how much he loved me and how we make sure to take time for one another since we are both computer freaks. He noticed that she was starting to like him a bit more than he felt comfortable with so he sent her this email to let her know that he was taken and cc'd it to me and I thought that was very telling of our relationship. :)

We met online and got to know eachother from the inside out and I truly love him and he loves me and if it works forever then so be it but I do know that I have a friend for life. :)

Hugs, Zissy

newwavegurly said...

Wow. You know that I have experience in this realm... on a couple of different levels.

My take: trust has nothing to do with the internet specifically. You either trust someone or you don't. Flirtations happen in-person that a partner might not know about (in the workplace especially), but if you trust the person you're in a relationship with, you know that all it is a flirtation. Same holds true with the internet.

melanie said...

so who to trust? yes. its a serious issue for us all. and to admit my own snooping lead me to a similar situation, hence i had to decide if the relationship was worth saving, and healing the gaping wound that sat in the center of me.

The hardest part for me was i was suspicious. and i confronted this person, and was assured, no no no ! nothing is going on you are being paranoid, Came to find out something was going on! I felt like an idiot, but realized i never should have doubted my own intuition. No matter what.

sorry to hear you had to suffer because of someone not being forthright. thats what has to happen with any relationship, especially online ones. they are as emotional and binding as a IRL relationship.