Online Love: Too Good To Be True?

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“I felt betrayed, ashamed and torn; trying to mend pieces of my broken heart… I just realized that my sweetheart has been cheating on me after a three-year love story I thought we’d share forever…total isolation was what I chose to do; I did not want to meet my friends, go to work or talk to my parents; as I could neither take pity nor handle the "we-warned-you-a lot" conversation. What seemed most soothing to me was staring at my computer screen, going throw all the pictures and endless conversations that I had with my ex- love. I felt relieved whenever I talked to complete strangers about how I felt; and so I did… I talked to my favorite stranger for days, weeks and months…and we finally decided to meet after we’d realized how much we had in common. Today, after a relationship that has been going on for almost two years, we’re engaged and having our wedding invitations designed”.

Does this story ring a bell? How often have you asked a friend how she started the relationship she’s in… and the answer you got was “Online!”?

Having wondered a lot why love relationships that started off online are becoming too widespread, I’m starting to believe that probably ‘chatting’ was especially tailored to fit into our Egyptian society.

In a culture where interaction between the sexes is most of the time unacceptable, Internet chatting opened the way for a type of freedom that Egyptian males and females never really enjoyed before. It gave them the chance to talk to members of the opposite sex for long hours day and night, befriend and even fall in love with them; without exposing themselves to the risk of being harshly criticized by our society or getting caught by their parents– unless they‘re internet literate – and curious, of course.

Getting into an online relationship could start unintentionally by starting to talk to someone, getting attached to the person he says he is and eventually falling in love, or by intentionally looking for love and actually ‘choosing’ to get into an online relationship.

In both cases, the probability of a couple making it into a relationship is much higher than if they meet through some other way, even if they’re poles apart… simply because they’re behind screens…they choose what information to share and what to hide… when to be honest and when to lie… it’s their decision to ‘screen’ out any of their flaws.

“I told him I weighed 10 kilograms less than I actually did, hoping I’d be able to lose the extra weight at some point before we decide to meet. I wanted to possess the perfect features he would wish to have in his dream girl…I loved him a lot and he seemed too precious to lose… To my shock, we broke up a month after our first meeting as I found out he’s been lying about his education and current job”, says Sarah, 22.

This way, having an online relationship work is much easier than attaining one in the physical world; as starting off by listing your points of strength- of course said by you- could magically impress your chatting buddy…so whether you decide to hide your flaws, or merely postpone the ‘disclosure’ till the other person gets too attached to judge you, you’re most likely to be on the safe side; just like this…

“He was outstandingly handsome, charismatic, independent and tender. We got too attached that we sometimes chatted for ten continuous hours. He was too good to be true, and made me wonder how such a great person could be single. We eventually got into a relationship… and later on he admitted that he ran out of the country because he couldn’t stand his final year of college… we broke up a long time afterwards, for a totally different reason”, tells Dina, 20. 

But what if you’re not intending to deceive your partner, in the first place? And all you need is someone to talk openly to and trust? I believe this, as well, is more likely to happen online, as the more you get into the physical world, the harder the actions you could take. ‘Saying’ the words is much harder than ‘writing’ them.

Need proof? Remember how frequently it happened that you or any your friends confessed or received your first-in-a-relationship ‘I love you’ online or in a short phone message versus face-to-face; and you’ll know what I mean.

“We shared everything; every-day stories, confessions, problems…literally everything. We were online friends for almost six months and then mutual feelings came about; we got into a relationship while he was abroad…and three months later he came to Egypt for his annual vacation, and proposed before he traveled”explains Maria, 22.

People, in the ‘real’ world, are judged based on how good-looking, classy and young they look; giving the disadvantaged of these categories a minimal chance of being looked up to. So does Internet chatting support the unprivileged? Could formulating, and getting attached to, a somehow imaginary picture of how a person could be like; based on a blend of ‘honest’ personality and physical features, help one oversee any flaws in the future?

“My cousin has been friends with an American engineer for one year. They got along perfectly well, and they finally decided to get married. He came to Cairo; they met up for the first time, he got himself a job in Egypt and they got married in one month… She’s 22 and he’s 40!” says Rana, 22.

Well, it could… but is it always rainbows and butterflies?

“My best friend got to know a German girl online… they used to chat on a daily basis for six months, and then she decided to go to Hurghada and meet him. They clicked, just like they did online, and got married. As days went by, they realized how different they turned out to be and my friend moved out. His wife is insisting on getting a divorce, but my friend wouldn’t listen to her as he can’t afford the custody he has to pay for their three year-old child” comments Walaa, 22.

It doesn’t seem so.

So is the hope of enjoying a fabulous online relationship, and a ‘real’ one afterwards worth the risk of getting into one? Is it time to aim for its pluses, and turn to the Internet for finding Mr. Perfect? It’s for you to decide, but always remember: “If something is too good to be true, It probably is”… so make sure you consider a deeper second look, before jumping to conclusions.

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