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QUESTIONS & ANSWERS:
CyberRomance Department

Please remember, this column is designed to help the consumer seeking behavioral-health information, and not intended to be any form of psychotherapy or a replacement for professional, individualized services. Opinions expressed in the column are those of the columnist and do not represent the position of other SelfhelpMagazine.com staff.

Question

There's a guy who likes me over the net. He asked me to be his girl over the net. I said yes. But I don't know if I should have done that ... how would a relationship work over the net?

Answer

You bring up a very good point: it is often difficult to know exactly what someone means online. A good way to approach a question like this is to ask a few questions in your response. Try and understand exactly what someone means when using terms that have a meaning offline, but are difficult to enact from a geographically different location, through the Internet.

You might enjoy the freedom of asking as many questions as occur to you, as well as learn how the other person answers. If you follow someone's line of thinking, you can see if they are telling the truth as well. If you find inconsistencies, ask about them, too. See what kind of answers you get -- open minded, open-hearted, or closed, critical, negative responses that make you reluctant to ask more questions.

In this case, tell your online boyfriend of your second thoughts, and ask your questions freely. Find out what he meant, and what he thinks your agreement means. Our ability to ask and answer questions is one of the many advantages of the net -- it forces people to talk about things they never would discuss f2f. If he doesn't like it and thinks you ought to know what he meant by being his "girl over the net," he is being unrealistic.

01/09/99

Dr. Maheu is an author, speaker, and researcher. She is the lead author of E-Health, Telehealth & Telemedicine: A Guide to Program Startup and Success co-written with Pamela Whitten and Ace Allen, published by Jossey-Bass: San Francisco.

Infidelity on the Internet is Dr. Maheu's second book and she's currently working her third, tentatively titled "The Mental Health Professional Online: New Questions and Answers."

For more information about her speaking schedule, see this page: http://telehealth.net/speak.html

 

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