When Virtual met Reality

Canada
February 22, 2009 2:34pm CST
I'd say that all of us, by now, have some very good virtual friends, right? People we've met online through forums, chat rooms, social networking, work, common interests, etc. We probably don't live close to these remote friends and can often be countries or continents apart. If you (like me), do not engage posting personal photos, webcamming, video conferencing, etc., you might not have a clue what your friends look like. You might form an idea in your mind, based on information over time, but there's no accuracy to that, of course. So, here is my question... Does it matter to you? Do you believe a virtual friendship or relationship would end if you saw a photo of that person (or met them in person) and they didn't look the way you'd envisioned? I know of at least one couple that developed a strong internet relationship but, when they finally met in person (at an airport, nonetheless), the man was immediately turned off by the woman's physical appearance, said "I'm sorry but I can't do this", and left her there to get a flight back home. I do believe that's extreme (not to mention cruel and a whole bunch of other words I won't say) but I have to wonder... is the lack of an instant physical attraction enough to put an immediate end to a long-term friendship or relationship? What do you think? Do you have any personal experiences you could share? I'd be interested in your perspective! :)
2 people like this
4 responses
@Lore2009 (7389)
• United States
22 Feb 09
I've never really thought of that since I've never really wanted to make my virtual a reality. I think the virtual-ness keeps some bonds stronger than others. But I wouldn't turn down a friend if I met them in person.. but I don't know about a relationship... I've never experienced a relationship virtually that I can't even imagine this situation.
3 people like this
• Canada
24 Feb 09
I actually find it really interesting how people approach virtual friendship (either with or without the romantic relationship aspect). Some seem bound and determined to use the internet as the vehicle to meeting people but their overall intention is always to take it out of the virtual and into reality. I've met some people who hassled me so much for pictures and web camming that I ended up not being friends with them anymore. I think we have to respect people's personal boundaries about this stuff and couldn't understand why what I looked like mattered so much to someone I'd probably never meet in my lifetime anyway LOL! You mention that you've never really felt the pull to take an online relationship of any kind off of the computer. I respect and understand that... but there seems to also be a lot of people that don't. In general, I'm open to the possibility of losing the anonymity and making it more personal if a friendship becomes really strong... but someone's physical appearance just doesn't seem to play a role in that for me.
1 person likes this
@Lore2009 (7389)
• United States
25 Feb 09
I guess, I'm just not that experienced in that part,yet since I've never really made friends that became so close and to actually meet them, except for one. But there was more background and reason for that one since it was more for a job and not a friendship and it ended up just being a friendship anyway.
2 people like this
• South Africa
22 Feb 09
Interesting topic, very relevant. I love the way a person is able to project yourself online crows feet, cellulite, a few gray hairs, etc getting in the way. I haven't really gone in for online dating and I don't know if I ever will. I've been in a writers critting group and once had a mild flirtation with one member regarding his comments about my story. When I read his profile and saw that he was a happily married father of three, I broke it off. My first self initiated Facebook friendship happened in this way. A friend sent me an application that lets you browse random profiles. The first guy was into money and nothing else. Ditto about football for the second guy, but when I saw the third guys profile and saw that his interests included writing, photography and playing bass guitar, I immediately thought, ah, someone sane at last and added him, only noticing that he was only nineteen afterwards. Although my profile doesn't show my age, I am old enough to be his mother. A few days later, he messaged me and - although I still haven't divulged my age - we found that we got on quite well & I've had several interesting chats to him. He is nowhere near my vicinity, so meeting in person is very unlikely and, hey, it is only friendship.
• Canada
23 Feb 09
My husband and I originally met on line in a writing forum, and then we got to know eachother outside of the forum. That moved from e-mail to chats in Yahoo and MSN, then to phone calls, and then we met in person. Now we have been married for almost a year and a half.
2 people like this
• Canada
6 Mar 09
I'm sorry I initially missed your comment, danishcanadian! Better late than never in responding back! LOL Congratulations to you and your husband :))) I know quite a few people who met their spouse online. It's really becoming a viable thing these days. Sign of the times (and a strong overall access to technology), I'm sure. I'm curious, if you don't mind, relating back to my original post... how long was it before you and he exchanged photos? Did you spend any significant amount of time not knowing what the other person looked like? I'm curious at what point people feel compelled to bring physical appearance into question... maybe when it becomes clear that there is a true relationship developing...
1 person likes this
@Canellita (12059)
• United States
8 Mar 09
This is the problem with getting to know someone this way. Unless you meet in person right away you really don't kow who you're dealing with. People are one way over the telephone and another in person. Everytime I have met someone via the internet they have been extremely happy to meet me in person. Even after we have communicated enough to know there is no future for a relationship but we can be friends, as soon as they see me they forget about all that. Whenever I have met someone in person it's usually been the opposite. I took one look at one man from across the room and the thrill was gone. I can't explain why but I guess there was just no chemistry. We had dinner and he drove me nuts the whole time. The less interested I was the more interested he was. He was ready to get married because I had a complete package but he didn't see that he didn't offer me one in return. As for as the jerk that left that poor woman standing in the airport, my first thought is did they not exchange photos? You never know with guys what they are going to find attractive. Some men can be incredibly shallow and some will go out with just about anyone because of the potential opportunity for physical gratification. If you look online to meet potential dates you should stick to people who live in your zip code at least. You'll have a much better chance of dealing with the real person.
1 person likes this
• Canada
9 Mar 09
I think is a great response, Canellita, and thank you for sharing it. You present the other side of the coin... where, when someone met you in person, they became even MORE attached to you! But, yes, you're right... sometimes when you have a virtual relationship, it's very thrilling and exciting and, admittedly, when you see the person or even their photograph, it can throw cold water on the fantasy. It's great when that doesn't happen but I'm willing to bet it happens really often. People are very capable of building up a fantasy in their mind to be something extraordinary and real life is very much ordinary. The jerk at the airport... well he was a jerk for leaving her stranded there but, yes, they had exchanged photos. Problem was, she wasn't truthful with him. She showed him very old photos of how she used to look. They did not come even close to how she looked in the current day. So, I don't blame the man for not being accepting... but he could have been more of a gentleman about it, that's for sure! I think people are afraid to be honest.
@Canellita (12059)
• United States
6 Jul 10
Thanks for th BR! You hit the nail on the head with the fantasy aspect. If you see someone right away and they've used their real photo then you have an idea of who you might be dealing with. I think that for attractive women it's a huge problem because men will look at the photo and forget about everything else. It's too bad that woman at the airport didn't have enough confidence and self-worth to be honest.
1 person likes this