Why Relationships that Began Online are Not Weird

When people ask me how my fiancé and I met, I always tense up a bit.  The truth is we met on the internet.  As I tell my acquaintances this, I find myself going out of my way to justify our relationship and also to make sure no one sees me as pathetic:

  • “We met online but we’ve spent 6 months living together.”
  • “We met online but it was through his work so it wasn’t weird.”
  • “We met online but we were only good friends until we met in person.”
  • “We met online but I wasn’t looking to meet someone online… it just happened.”
  • “We met online but I dated people in real life before that.”
  • “We met online but it was perfect because I’m too busy focusing on school and my career to date someone local.”

I can’t be the only person who does this, can I?  A recent commercial for a popular dating website says that 1/3 of this year’s married couples met online.  Do those couples respond like me, too?

sleep is the enemy
Creative Commons License photo credit: striatic

A lot of people spend a lot of time on the internet

A 2008 survey found that people were spending as many as 32 hours online per week.  That’s more than 4 hours per day!  If I spent 4 hours each day at the gym, no one would be surprised if I met a man (or a few men) that I would like to date.  And almost 2 billion people use the internet which is, I bet, way more than the amount of people I can meet at my local gym.  Bonus: spending hours on the internet is way easier and more convenient than spending hours in a gym.

Email, texting and Skype

In the “olden days”, people had to write letters to their foreign lovers.  If your significant other was in Asia, that could means many months between letters.  Now, our communication is instant!  Sending an email is as easy as pie–you don’t even need to track down a pen and piece of paper!  If you’re on the go and cannot send an email, you can make a call or text.  Finally, we have Skype, the cream of the crop.  Skype is the best option for people in international long-distance relationships.  You can make a video call from your computer to your significant other’s computer, allowing you to see them and hear them live.  Skype also offers affordable plans for calling and texting to another country.

Want to send your partner a picture?  Gone are the days of filling up a roll of film, then taking it to the drugstore to get it developed, then finally mailing the photo.  Now, you can take a picture with your webcam and send it via email in seconds.  Most cell phones now come standard with a camera, allowing you to take a photo and send it via text message.  You could keep your boyfriend or girlfriend updated on every part of your day if you wanted.

Everybody’s doing it

Millions of people use dating sites. Match.com has more than 20 million active users. OkCupid has 5 million. PlentyofFish has 23 million registered users. An average of 236 couples who met on eHarmony marry each day in America. These figures represent only a small fraction of people using dating websites, of which there are more than 1,000 on the web today.  On top of that, lots of couples meet online but not on dating websites.  I have known people who met on Facebook, Myspace, band websites, journaling websites, forums and many other places.

In the future

Wired magazine said it best in 2002: “Twenty years from now, the idea that someone looking for love won’t look for it online will be silly, akin to skipping the card catalog to instead wander the stacks because the right books are found only by accident.”  Judging by the strange looks I often get when I tell people that my fiancé and I met online, we’re not quite there yet.  Still, a surprising number of people respond with something like “Oh…  my (insert distant relative here) met her husband online too!”  Hopefully by 2012, those of us who met our spouses online won’t have to include all kinds of justifications.  We’ll be able to simply say “We met online” because it will be as normal as saying “We met at school” or “We met at a party”.

Comments

  1. just found this blog and am SO glad i did. im american he’s english we’re both in college and, even though i met him face to face before any of this, i am reluctant to tell anyone because i fear the judgement. for example, i just worked up the courage today to tell someone and she goes, “wait so you’ve met up since your first meet right? because that’d be totally weird if you didnt” and i lied and said we had. it’s difficult to explain to people that havent gone through it.

    thanks sooo so much for this post, im so glad im not the only one trying to justify the rational to people who look on judgmentally.

    • In Love Abroad says:

      You are definitely not the only person who has gone through it! It’s really difficult to people who have never experienced a LDR or have never had a close relationship (even a friend) online. How long have you and your boyfriend been together?

  2. I know EXACTLY what you mean. My boyfriend and I met online and then for the next two years we were in an international long distance relationship. So not only did I have to explain that we met online, but I also had to go on to say that we were in an international LDR. It was like a double whammy for me.

    Now I have less of a problem with it since we’re at least living in the same country, but I definitely still brace myself for the judgements and awkward looks.

    But you know what.. whatever. Because I have an amazing boyfriend and I couldn’t be happier :)

  3. Thanks for this…

    I met my fiance online. It was a social networking site actually, facebook, and we had mutual friends and so he friends me because a few of the guys I worked with were friends of his. He liked some of my post and did I mention he is really good looking! I had dated someone I met from a bar before, while he was nice it just wasn’t working out. I couldn’t see us together. He wasn’t patient or understanding at all, I has Aspergers and can be difficult from time to time and not mean to be. My fiance gave me his number and asked me to text or call him when I was ready. He was sweet and we got on great. We finally met and I totally fell for him, in an instant (if I hadn’t already). He wasn’t some skeeze trying to be all gross, like a lot of men in the real world as well as virtual. He won’t tell people how we met, online, because he’s embarrassed. I don’t care but I let him make up whatever story he wants. Once he told someone I hit him with my car… he’s a riot. It really doesn’t matter how you meet, unless it’s like you both like skinning people alive… but I guess even murderers find love… i.e. Natural Born Killers…. what matters is how you two feel about each other.

  4. I met my German boyfriend online in 1999….it was a penpal site, nothing more. He was looking for someone living in my country to get some travelling information. After writing for 2 weeks everyday, I asked him “Do I know you?”. Then the phone calls started….he came to Canada for a visit within 3 months from the first email….3.5 years of LDR–between Canada (West Coast) and Germany. Then he moved to Canada….for me. We are still together after 13 years…married since 2002. I don’t tell this story to everyone as I still get “the look”–you met “online”? :-)

    • That is so adorable and encouraging to others who are in international long distance relationships, like myself! Thank you for sharing your story! (:

  5. I met my boyfriend online on a chatting site, and at first it was just a friendly thing nothing at all. We ended up talking for over eight months and found out we had more in common then we expected. We would Skype almost every night for hours and it felt like only minutes had past. I came there to visit him and he came to visit me, and through it all I think I have found the person that cares for me and loves me more than any other individual I have ever met. His friends make fun of him, and my friends once in awhile tease, but honestly I wouldn’t change meeting him for the world. At times yes it is embarrassing telling people that I’m moving there and how we met, but the happiness that we bring one another is in no comparison to the judgements that I get from others.

  6. Wow I am so glad I read this post. I’ve been talking to this guy I met online for 6 months and I’m so reluctant to tell people but usually when I tell them they ask a few more questions and by the end of the conversation they end up saying “That’s so cute!” or even “I’m so jealous!” We are reluctant to say we are in a relationship considering I’m in the US and he is in Europe and we aren’t quite sure when he will be moving here (but he has wanted to move to the US since before we met), but we do tell each other that we love each other and text every day as well as skype every couple of weeks when we can. Basically it’s just comforting to know that relationships that start this way can work and even end up in marriage! This post is just very encouraging and exciting for me! I wish you and your fiance (possibly now husband?) the best of luck!

Trackbacks

  1. [...] have already established that beginning a relationship online is perfectly normal.  You can only continue a relationship over the internet for a short time, though.  Sooner or [...]

  2. [...] With its chorus starting “I knew I loved you before I met you”, this song is great for people whose relationships began online. [...]

  3. [...] this song is about finding the perfect woman, it works wonderfully for people in an online relationship that haven’t met [...]

Speak Your Mind

*