According to a new survey, 1-in-4 couples now say they met online. But after what happened to Notre Dame football star Manti Te’o recently, many people are wondering if it’s really possible to fall in love online, before you ever meet in person?
Well, according to the book Affairs Of The Net, not only is it possible – it happens all the time! In fact, many studies show that people do form “deeper connections” when they meet online, even if they never meet face to face. For example: One study found that people who met online tend to communicate more openly and honestly, compared to people who met face-to-face. And in a study that analyzed strangers meeting in both well-lit rooms and pitch-dark rooms, experts say those who met in dark rooms were more likely to be themselves, and ask more intimate questions, compared to those who could see each other’s face.
Why would that happen? Researchers say it boils down to the fact that when we take away the stress of being face-to-face and can really think about our interactions, then it’s easier to get deeper with each other. That’s why a growing number of couples now report moving more quickly from a casual online chat, to something much more emotional and falling in love online – even before they meet in person!
So, how do you pursue an online relationship without falling victim to an online hoax – like the one that happened to Manti Te’o – or an online love scam? Dr. Michael Adamse is a psychologist who wrote a book about online relationships, called Affairs Of The Net. And he says the trick is to be smart about your feelings before they get too deep! Basically, he says the moment you feel like you’re starting to fall in love with someone online, then it’s important to meet them in real life. And if they hesitate to meet you for even a second, consider that a huge red flag.
Dr. Adamse says the problem with waiting is that the longer you wait to meet in real life, the more likely you are to start idealizing the person. And you end up forming an impression about them that’s based more on fantasy than reality. So, by the time you finally do meet, you’re more likely to feel let down because no one can live up to the fantasy in your head. In other words: It’s normal to fall in love with someone you meet online. But never think you’re in a “real” relationship until you’re actually face-to-face with that person, spending time with them.