SHARED STORIES, Part 2
STORY #30 - "Two Tales"
"Monica" is a 24 yr old single female who has been online about 8 months. She wrote to share two experiences
she has had with cyber romance. Her first experience occurred just two weeks after she went online when she "hit
it off famously" with a man she began chatting with. They went through the usual steps of calling on the phone,
exchanging photographs, sending cards, and finally arranging to meet. Her friends told her it was a "terribly
stupid" thing to do....to fly 1000 miles to meet what they considered a stranger. She says he had her heart and she
had grown to trust him, and as it turned out the trip was fine.
Unfortunately, the relationship fizzled on a romantic level after the meeting. She had fallen for him more than ever
in Real World, to the point where she told him she would relocate to be with him. He was not ready for that kind of
commitment and things pretty much ended after that. He told her he "didn't think she knew him well enough to be
in love with him." The up side is that they were able to remain friends online and still talk on a regular basis.
After this experience, she had decided to be a bit more cautious when chatting online and to set limits for herself in
a relationship to avoid potential problems. She would not become involved with a married man, someone who had
children, or who was older than 30. She has since met someone online who meets her criteria and they have now
met in Real World after talking once on the phone. He lives 116 miles away, and they have met twice....once at her
place and once at his. Monica says she had "no qualms" about meeting him, for she felt she knew him well enough
and had talked to several people who knew him in Real Life. She writes that "we clicked very well online, but even
She closes by writing "This is the beauty of online romance. It gets past that whole physical attraction thing. Sure,
its still gotta be there, but its not the major factor in the whole thing. He likes me for my personality. And he still
thinks I am beautiful. I hope this relationship works out. We both hope very much that it does.
I'm glad that your experiences online have been positive, even the one that did not work out having turned into a
genuine friendship. I hope your current romance blooms into everything you both are seeking.
I would be remiss, however, if I did not point out that there is always a very real risk when you fly off to meet
somebody for the first time. We think we know the other person because of our intense sharing of ourselves
online, and I believe, in balance, that's probably more often true than not. But there is always a dark element out
there....people who prey on others and who are very good at saying all the right things to win somebody's heart and
then either scam them or hurt them or worse. The media always prints the sensational horror stories, but I am not
convinced its any more risky to meet somebody after months of talking online, than it is to go home with somebody
new from a singles bar. A certain amount of caution and common sense need to be used anytime you meet anyone
new, regardless of the setting.
Thank you for sharing your stories.
STORY # 29 - "A Learning Experience"
"Rhonda" is a 38 yr old married female who wants to share some insights she has learned in her two years online.
She says she finds cyber relationships fascinating, and is still amazed at how free people are when they don't have
to come face to face with a person.
She has been married 20 years and has never cheated on her husband, although he is a workaholic and she does
sometimes crave attention. She found that when she turned on the computer she had all kinds of friends out there
and has met many men....some sweet, some humorous, and some perverted. She has shared many of her
experiences with her husband who, for the most part, has not felt threatened by any of it. She does believe you can
find a true soul mate through the computer, but caution is always the best way to approach it.
At one point in time, she met a man on the computer who was a business acquaintance of her husband's. He, too,
was married and lived only one half hour away. She found herself very intrigued by this man. He knew all the right
things to say, was intelligent, charming and witty. They finally did meet in person, through business, both with their
spouses. She found everything she had imagined about him online to be true in Real World and was now thinking
she was in love with him. She discovered he felt the same way, and their online relationship became hot and
intense. They wanted to meet alone but knew it was dangerous.
Then, by chance, she began to talk to his wife online. They discussed many things, including their spouses, and she
began to learn things about this man that did not match his screen persona at all. She began to realize he was a
master of the game, and she had come close to throwing away a 20 yr marriage for a "quick roll in the hay."
Her closing comments were that she learned a valuable lesson and a lot about herself. Humans thrive on feeling
good about themselves, and making others feel good about themselves. You can have a lot of fun online doing that,
but you also need to realize that who somebody is online is not necessarily who they are offline. The world changes
when you add a job, kids, and responsibilities to the picture. She would caution people to do a lot of soul searching
before they decide somebody is truly their soul mate.
I believe Rhonda has made some good points and given sound cautionary advice. Our online world is often
"idealized". We can temporarily escape the pressures of work, an unhappy marriage, sickness, and problems with
finances and children when we turn on the computer. We can be the person we would like to be without all that
Real World baggage. And the person on the other side of the screen is often doing the same thing. Ultimately, we
must return to that Real World when the computer shuts down. Caution is always advised.
STORY #28 - "Can't Give Each Other Up!"
"Laura" is a 34 yr old married female who has been online for about 18 months. She has been involved in a cyber
romance for the past six months with a man the same age, who is also married. Both have children. She met him
one day on AOL when he sent her an "instant message" and she thought he was one of the sweetest persons she
had ever met. Both he and she are in not-so-happy marriages.... staying in their marriages primarily for their
children.... and they found they had much in common as they talked and laughed and learned more about each
Things began to heat up, email was exchanged daily and finally pictures sent. Inevitably, one day he asked for her
phone number and soon they were hearing each other's voices and talking on the telephone several times a
day....before work, at work, and after work. Sometimes the calls are just a short "I love you", and other times long
Laura says they do not feel guilty at all and would like very much to meet one day, to hold hands in the Real
World, and just be close. Every day they tell each other they love each other and don't know what to do beyond
that. She says all she knows is that it is growing stronger, their nights are sleepless, the wants are getting bigger
and they will not give each other up no matter what.
Laura did not ask for advice, but wished to share her situation. Since she did not mention the distance between
them, it's unclear how feasible an actual meeting would be. Since they have ruled out the option of giving each
other up, they are left with either continuing as they are, or eventually meeting and taking it from there. Both carry
risks...continued email and phone calls risk discovery by their spouses, while a meeting carries the risk of
"bursting the bubble" and possible disappointment, or conversely, being all they had hoped for and then having to
face the difficult task of what to do about it. Both have spouses and children to consider, always a wrenching
prospect. The path they choose will not be an easy one, no matter what they do. My best wishes to them both in
doing what is right for their situations.
STORY #27 - "Close Call"
"Janice" is a 44 yr old woman married 28 years with two children. She writes that about a year ago, she found a
card her husband was mailing to another woman, whom he had met on the Internet. At first he said it was just a
fantasy and that he loved her (his wife) very much. He vowed he would not speak to the online woman again. Three
weeks later Janice found him telling this woman on a chat interface how much he loved her. Then she found out he
had lied to the woman and had told her he was a divorced, single father. She sent email to the woman telling her
the truth about her husband's situation. The woman, who was also married, said she would not contact him
anymore. However, contact continued. Janice and her husband began to fight and she became very suspicious of
him. He began to talk about leaving to get some peace and quiet. It was a very unhappy time as she felt the online
woman thrilled and excited him in ways she could not, after so many years of marriage. Because she loved him,
she began to try to do more things with him, to become closer, and to enhance their love-making. Even though
things seemed to improve, he told her he still needed to leave to get some peace and independence. His departure
lasted three days. He came to her and told her he had made a terrible mistake, that he had been calling his
internet love behind her back all during the time he had told her it was over. He had even met her once and it was
not that great. He asked to come back home. He realized he loved her and wanted the family to be together. She
took him back and now they have a bond closer than ever. Her closing comment was "No one can break our bond,
even though someone he met on the Internet almost did."
Janice has not asked for any advice and none is needed here. It is one more story about the hazards of
cyberspace. The internet can and does break up marriages, even when people start out innnocently and feel it
cannot happen to them. Relationships based on lies rarely work out, whether in cyberspace or Real Life. You had a
close call, but fortunately you were able to come through it and build a stronger relationship. I'm glad for you and
your family that it worked out and I wish you continued happiness.
Story #26 - "Love in Four Days???"
"Kerry" is a 40 yr old lesbian, recently single, who has been on the Net about two months. She writes she is
surprised to see no letters from the gay/lesbian community in cyberspace because there is a large presence to be
found there. She goes on to say she has made a number of new friends in chat rooms, both gay and straight, and
has enjoyed the attention and the flirting, but was not looking for love. Recently she met a woman in a chat room,
however, and made an instant "emotional/intellectual" connection. They wound up talking for five hours straight,
with the last half hour on the telephone. Since then they meet nightly online, email each other, and have had more
phone conversations. Pictures are being exchanged and plans are in the works for a meeting very soon. She goes
on to say she cannot understand how she could invite "a total stranger into my home"....and that her
non-cyberspace friends either think she has lost her mind or are terribly amused by it. Kerry closes by asking if
she has lost it by falling in cyber love in only four days.
First, let me say that in spite of there being a large gay/lesbian community in cyberspace, this is the first letter we
have received that talks about same-sex relationships. Except for those people who request a private response, we
publish all the letters that deal with cyber relationships.
Now to address your concerns. In my opinion, you have not lost your mind. You have joined the thousands of
others in cyberspace who are experiencing this social phenomenon. Whether g/l or straight, people are making
these connections of the mind and finding whom they perceive to be their "soul mate". You and your friend are
following the typical pattern of meeting, connecting, talking long hours online, emailing, moving to the telephone,
exchanging pictures, and ultimately arranging to meet. In cyberspace these stages of "dating" seem to be
accelerated as opposed to the steps one usually goes through in the dating game in the Real World. An urgency
develops to hear the others voice, to see them, and to touch them in Real World. Time frames vary for the
individuals and their circumstances. Your relationship has moved forward very quickly probably because you are
single and able to pursue it, and you and your friend are relatively close geographically. It is natural to have
anxieties about the meeting. Questions always arise about whether the feelings are valid and whether or not they
will be the same once you take the love from fantasy to reality. There is no way to know until you actually meet.
Some work out wonderfully, and others are disappointments. Here's hoping your meeting turns out to be
everything the two of you are hoping for.
Story #25 - "Confused Cyberflirt"
"Allison" is a 33 yr old married female currently in a cyber relationship. She has been married in Real World since
the age of 17 to a man eighteen years her senior, and has three children. For the past year she has been on the
Net and finds she loves the attention, flattery and words of love she finds in the chat rooms. She loves to flirt and
have men tell her she is beautiful, which generally leads to more. She has one special relationship with a 30 yr old
single man in the neighboring state about a nine hour drive away. The have met in the Real World three times and
they have talked about having a real life together, but she is uncertain she can be true to him online. He is aware
of her flirting and cybering with others and is hurt by it but still loves her. Her Real World husband is also aware of
her cyber relationship and is very hurt. Allison has two other men online who have asked her to move in with them,
and at times feels she could seriously fall for them, but she says she always goes back to her special love in the
next state. She wants very much to divorce her husband and start a new life, but is very concerned about her
children and how it will affect them. She is also concerned about her own inability to commit to one person and be
happy because she loves to play so much. She closes by saying, "I don't know what to do....I am tired of hurting
people...if there is anything I can do, please let me know."
I have talked before about how our interactions on the net appear to meet certain needs in each of us. I think
because Allison has been married with children since she was just a teenager, she missed that period of time as a
young adult when one flirts and dates and kicks up their heels before settling down. Now she is doing it online and
loving the attention she never had a chance to experience. This is understandable. Everyone like to be made to
feel beautiful, sexy, witty, and desireable. The Net offers this in a seemingly "harmless" interface, but for every
line of text on the screen there is a real person on the other side, often getting emotionally involved. And cyber
flirtations appear to inevitably affect Real World relationships.
Even though I understand the appeal of having multiple suitors, it is unlikely you can continue to flirt and cyber
with others and still keep the love of your special relationship. It has already affected your marriage. You say you
have discussed divorce with your Real World husband. You do not say whether you work or have the means to
take care of yourself should you follow through. Would your children live with you or your husband? Could you
take care of them on your own if need be? These are all questions you must ask yourself. Would any of your online
loves be willing to take in a ready-made family? How would your children react?
Frankly, it sounds as though you need to experience the freedom of being on your own and able to do as you wish
for a while. If you are in a position to indulge your flirtations and need for many admirers, it might lose some of its
appeal over time. If you do follow through with a divorce, I think it would be unwise to run straight to another man
for the wrong reasons, i.e., out of need rather than because you can't live without him. If you truly love him and
want to pursue a life with him, you will have to give up the extra online affairs or it will ultimately tear you both
apart. I have no magic answers for how you go about "weaning" yourself from this very addictive pasttime. I know
of some who have been "playing" online for 3 or more years and it has not lost its appeal, while others burn out in
a short time. I would suggest counseling, but only if the therapist has first-hand experience in cyber space. Please
let me know how things work out.
Story #24 - "Can This Gap Be Bridged?"
"Julie" is a 35 yr old single female who began an innocent penpal correspondance with an 18 yr old male over the
Net which has now taken a romantic turn. This was an unexpected situation; in fact, she says she had been known
in the past to make unflattering comments about chat room addicts and those caught up in cyber relationships. She
says she has certainly been enlightened as to the realities of online romance now. There are 5,000 miles between
them geographically and 17 years chronologically. He still lives at home with his parents. Due to circumstances, it
would be three years before the two of them could actually meet. They have been open and honest with each other
about themselves, and she has made it clear to him she expects him to go out with "real girls" and she too will date
during this time. She worries about the social stigma of their age difference, the reaction of his parents, the fact
that she has a 10 yr old closer to his age than she is, and whether or not it is realistic to think they can wait three
years for each other. She is sure she can, but can he? She ends her letter by saying how very happy he makes her.
When she thinks of him it makes her smile and inspires her in her work. Regardless of how it works out, she
considers herself lucky for having met him. She also asks if there are any others out there in a similar situation, or
any links referencing older women/younger men relationships.
I have read the original 3 page letter several times and given it a great deal of thought. In general terms, I do not
have a problem with a large age difference between men and women regardless of who is the older or younger in
the relationship. Maturity comes in many different ages and a chronological number is not always an indication.
However, I do think there are less problems socially when a seventeen year age difference exists between two
people who are 30 and 47, for example, than between 18 and 35.
Research has shown women in their teens mature sooner than men, but usually by mid-twenties things have
leveled out between the sexes. I believe, in part, that is why younger women traditionally have married older men.
Today people have more choices and many marry later in life while some choose not to marry at all. Social mores
have changed a great deal and there is less stigma between older women/younger men relationships now than
there used to be. I do know of several very successful marriages/relationships between older women and younger
men, both in Real World and in CyberSpace. I do not know of any special links to that specific topic, however. If
anyone out there knows of any good web sites that address this, please write me.
This takes me back to your situation. I have had others write me through the Web Page with concerns similar to
yours, but none with the age difference quite as great and none with the man being a teenager still living at home. I
believe these factors to be very crucial to your relationship. I don't doubt for a moment that you both care deeply
for each other, but I have some concerns that an 18 yr old teen can really wait three years for someone. As you
pointed out, he has not yet had the experience of being out on his own and being a part of the adult world yet.
There are other unknowns such as the reaction of his parents and how much influence they still have over him. And
of course, since you have both agreed to see others, one or both of you may meet somebody else. While I would
like to say I think it will work out for you, my gut feeling is that it is highly unlikely. However, I would also say it
sounds as though you have a very special relationship you are both enjoying right now. Your current course of
taking things slowly and being honest with each other is definitely the correct path. Enjoy your time together,
however long that may be, and only time will give you the answers you seek.
Story #23 - "Holding the Line"
Brett is a 33 year old male who is a 13 year veteran of surfing the Net. He offers some advice on "holding the
line" between cyberspace and Real Life. His experience and observations lead him to believe that if you are in a
Real World relationship, you should not "get too close" to others you meet online, for it will invariably draw your
attention away from that part of your life that should have it the most, not to mention huge long distance phone
bills down the road. He tells his own friends that "if you get to a point where you feel the need to hear the voice,
it's time to drift on and find a new chat partner." He feels that almost anyone can make you swoon on the Net, but
rarely will match up in Real Life.
He also adds that he much prefers MUD (Multi User Dungeon) games to chat rooms. These games are text based
and highly interactive chat wise, but have the added feature of quests in a game setting. He volunteers to answer
questions about MUDs if anyone wants to drop him a line at email@example.com, or you can use a search
engine using keywords: mud circlemud dikumud.
I would not disagree with Brett's advice, although I would mention that not everyone is able to just "drift on and
find a new chat partner." Many have made great emotional investments in that special person and cannot walk
away so easily. I have said it before, and I'll repeat it again...Real Life relationships DO break up over online
relationships. It is something to consider carefully if you have a significant other in your Real World already,
before you log in to the chat room.
As an avid rpg'er myself (role playing gamer) I have played some text based MUDs years ago before the
graphical online games came out, and they can be quite enjoyable. I personally now prefer the graphical interface
which has become very sophisticated with three dimensional characters, beautiful scenery, and wonderful music
and sound effects. They also offer the interactive chat feature with gamers from around the world in real time. If
anyone wants more information, write me here at Lust in Space.
Story #22 - "A Bittersweet Ending"
"Jeff" is a 36 year old married male who has been on the Net about 1.5 years. Happily married for 18 years, he
writes that he was not looking for any type of cyber relationship or love when he began chatting online...nor did he
ever pretend he was single or unhappy in his marriage. The problem was, that his persona became "larger than
life", possessing all the qualities of wisdom, insight, caring, and fun that he wanted in his real life personality.
People were drawn to him, his ego loved the attention, and eventually a female admirer, also married, confessed
she had fallen in love with him.
At first he downplayed it and tried to ignore it. Later he told her it was unwise. As she continued to say things to
him he had never heard from his wife, and as they became more open and free with their wants and needs, he
weakened and returned her words of passion with his own. They began emailing, meeting online constantly, and
finally talking on the phone several times a day. Inevitably, they felt they had to meet in the Real World.
Arrangements were made to meet for a weekend. The date that worked for them both was a month away, but the
waiting was excruciating. During this time his real life behavior was becoming erratic, his guilt was consuming him,
and he quit eating and became very ill.
Finally, he broke down and confessed all to his wife. He told his wife he still had to meet this other woman. He and
his wife drove 1000 miles to his cyberlove's town and while his wife waited in a nearby motel, he met his online love
at a roadside cafe. Although they had never exchanged photos, they knew each other immediately and embraced.
They drove to her place from the cafe and talked, kissed and caressed each other, tempting each other almost
more than they could bear. But they did not engage in sex, as much as they both desired it. They held each other
and cried because they both knew this was the end of it. They both had real life spouses and families and too many
people would be hurt. In their last moments together they mourned what might have been, but agreed that love
often calls for sacrifice.
They no longer talk, but he thinks of her still from time to time and is sure she does the same. He is sure he did the
right thing, but can't help wondering what might have been.
Jeff wrote a very lengthy and eloquent letter about his cyberspace encounter. I really hated to edit it at all, as he
expressed his feelings so well and made some interesting observations. The questions that came to my mind as I
read his story were: should he have confessed to his wife, should he have met his cyber love afterwards, what were
the thoughts of his wife as she waited for his return to the motel, how could he have resisted the passion once with
his online love, and how could he have walked away from it? The path each of us takes will differ. Jeff did what he
saw as the only honorable thing he could do. Each of us must follow our own conscience in cyberspace just as we do
in Real World. It is always complicated and seldom easy.
Story #21 - "Food for Thought"
"Steven" is a 34 year old "happily married...believe it or not" male who writes that he has been having one night
sessions for the past six months through an AOL chat room. He is surprised how easy it is to pick up women, and
in his words "in an hour or two have the virtual equivalent of fairly raunchy sex...and orgasm". He puts his success
rate at approximately 60-70% and almost always with similar aged women who are also married. He says he does
not usually followup with email or chatting with a former lover because "there always seems to be another fish in
the sea...plus anything long term could possibly interfere with my real-life relationship." He closes by saying he
just wanted to add his input for the general discussion as "food for thought."
Thank you for your input regarding your own experiences in cyberspace. And yes...I believe you are happily
married in spite of the "one night cyberstands".... It's a strange new world out there and there seems to
be a sense of security being both anonymous and hundreds or thousands of miles away, which causes otherwise
cautious people to quickly drop barriers and their "cyberpants". You are right that if you allow yourself to become
emotionally involved it could interfere with your real-life marriage. Sometimes it happens even when one is
consciously trying not to let it happen. My only word of caution would be that you may meet somebody just a little
different one day....somebody who stands out from all the other "fish in the sea"....and you may find yourself
drawn to her despite your best intentions. So far you seem to have it under control. Good luck in the future.
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