BETHANY WANTED TO KNOW WHAT SHE WAS DOING WRONG.
She is 37 and hasn’t met a man since her relationship broke up four years ago because her boyfriend rejected her. She thought she was over him, but admitted that all her subsequent interactions with men have been electronic.
She has looked for love though websites, emailing, instant messaging and text messaging. None of it has led to real-life success. Bethany realised she was addicted to flirting online and was hiding behind her keyboard.
Many women who are lacking emotional intimacy in their lives, or even in their existing relationships, fill that void with the internet’s world of safety and anonymity.
The virtual world allows them to be at arm’s length, with no responsibility. Bethany can be who she would be in the real world if her self-esteem, confidence and the opportunity were there. In a sense, this “distance relationship” can act as a dress rehearsal, with the aim of bringing that good feeling and confidence into reality.
You can often be more honest when you’re internet dating. Rejecting someone is easier online and it has the advantage of saving time. However, text-based communication has a greater potential for misunderstandings to arise. It lacks the cues of body language and voice. And the person may have compensating qualities that you’ll miss because they’re behind a screen.
The internet disasters I have dealt with are where people have overlaid their fantasies onto the virtual date. Without interacting personally, they can project and create the love of their life. The person may not look the way they have “advertised” themselves, they may be play acting or, for that matter, they may not be single. There is also no physical chemistry in a virtual relationship.
Some of the problems are also due to the new dating dynamics and male-female roles. My single male clients claim women don’t flirt, and take life and themselves too seriously. I’ve heard stories of men approaching women in a social situation and being told to bugger off. And they do. They feel women have come to see themselves as the princesses their parents, society and the media have told them they are. Men’s confidence has dwindled. They’re resorting to “dating coaches” and complaining about sexual performance anxiety.
For Bethany, the internet has been a tool, but there’s no substitute for her taking her fear of rejection and actually meeting or being introduced to someone in the flesh and letting nature take its course. It’s more authentic, it’s more revealing, and it’s more real.