Story #20 - "Husband Has Cyber Sweetie"

"Sarah" is a 33 yr old married female who writes that her husband has a cyber-sweetie to whom he has become very attached. She says he spends hours every day emailing and chatting online with her. Sarah has not seen his email to her, but says the cyberlove's email to her husband is filled with sentiments of how much she loves him and thinks of him day and night. Sarah has talked to her husband and told him how hurt she is by this and how worried she is that it is out of control. He tells her there is no harm since they will never meet, but his attempts at cooling things have been short-lived. Sarah says "he is putting a wedge between us by giving so much of his romantic self to her instead of me." She closes by asking what she can do to get some peace of mind.


While I cannot precisely know your husband's feelings toward his cyber-sweetie, I can tell you, based on many, many stories, it's likely much deeper than you realize. If you love your husband and value your marriage, you should be very frightened of this. Regardless of how he downplays it, I would take this very seriously. The feelings are powerful and real to the people who become involved in these online romances. I've said it before and I'll repeat it again; marriages DO break up over these cyber romances, and not just "bad" marriages. You are right to feel hurt and jealous over the time he spends with her. You are on target when you say he gives all of his romantic self to her instead of you. Even if they never meet physically, you are being denied that special attention he would normally be giving to you. He knows how you feel and it is up to him to make a decision. A word of caution; it is very difficult for many to give up their online love. The behavior can be very addictive. It usually leads to phone calls and an eventual physical meeting. If you give him an ultimatum, you might lose. You might suggest counseling if he is willing, but I would find a therapist familiar with online cyber relationships. This is a strange, new frontier in many ways and most people who are not in cyberspace really don't have a good understanding of it. Most people who get caught up in this do not realize it can happen to them. I am sure your husband did not intend to hurt you. However, now that it has happened, it does pose a very real threat to your relationship. Good luck.

Story #19 - "One Married/One Single"

"Ken" is a 30 yr old divorced male living in Canada who recently met a woman in the U.S. in a chat room online and found an instant "soulmate". Their relationship very quickly turned to more than friendship. The woman, however, is married with children. Nonetheless, Ken says he has connected with her like he has never done before with a woman, and misses her every second they are not chatting online or on the phone. Pictures have been exchanged and he wants very much to meet her. She feels the same way. He says he is falling in love with her and wonders how to proceed.


This is one of the most difficult scenarios, because one person is single and the other is married. One is free to meet the other without guilt or reservation, while the other must resort to deception if she agrees to meet him. My advice for proceeding would be to use extreme caution. You did not say how long you had known each other month, six months, a year? How well do you really know each other? Are you both prepared for the possible outcomes of meeting? Is she prepared to leave her marriage if the two of you find you can't live without each other? Can you live with the thought that you contributed to the breakup? What of her children? Are you prepared to be an instant parent? You need to discuss these issues together in depth so there is no misunderstanding and no recrimination later on if things blow up.

You must also consider the possibility that you may NOT find each other nearly as appealing in person as you do in this idealized online world. Are you both prepared for that disappointment should it come to pass?

Once you take the online world out of the realm of fantasy and into reality, it will change things between you one way or the other. Please go slowly, be honest with each other, and use caution. Other lives are affected by this besides yours and hers.

Story #18 - "A Happy Ending"

"Lynn", a 35 yr old woman living in South Africa, writes that she was introduced to the Net 8 months ago, first through PowWow and later through Freetel. One night on Freetel she met somebody she simply "clicked" with and they began meeting on a regular basis to chat until one day she realized she was feeling very real feelings toward him. When he had to be offline for a week and returned, he told her how very much he had missed her. She told him of her own feelings and within two weeks they had made plans for him to come from England to visit her. They continued to talk online and by phone. They were both afraid of the actual physical meeting for fear the "bubble would burst", but the day finally arrived. The nervousness lasted "about four minutes...the time it took to walk to the car", and they spent the most wonderful week together. Before she left they had made plans for her to visit him in England two months later. Having to part after that glorious week together was one of the hardest moments they experienced. Then the doubts set in....would it last?....having satisfied their curiousity, would it simply fade away? Back online and on the phone, the answer was "No"....they both felt the same, only stronger after having met. Then, she decided to surprise him early by flying in unexpectedly before the planned trip to see him. It was perfect; he proposed marriage to her. The wedding is set for June and he will be moving to South Africa to be with her there. She says she is so glad they were both honest with each other about themselves from the very beginning. No pretenses, everything up front. She initially had some concerns about their age differences; she is 35 and he is 27. Neither is concerned about it now as it is nothing anyone would notice to look at them and they certainly don't feel it.


I am delighted to hear such a wonderful success story. Most of the stories I hear about are "in progress" and I don't often hear the final outcome. I know not all end in such a fairy tale ending as this one, but I think one of the keys to the success of this story hinges on both of them having been honest about themselves from the start. Trust is so important in this medium. You have to go a lot on blind faith in the beginning. Those who have the best chance for success are those who are honest with each other about who and what they are. Trust, once lost, is very hard to recover. I would not be concerned about the age difference either. Chronological age is not nearly as important as individual maturity, common interests, and most of you feel about each other. Thank you for sharing your story, Lynn.

Story #17 - "Looking for Answers"

"Lisa" is a 31 yr old female, married approximately two years ..."not very happily" in her words. She has been online about 2.5 months since she got a computer for Christmas and decided to check out the AOL offer that came with the system. She met a divorced man from the neighboring state her very first night online during a heated political debate and they have been emailing and chatting online since. He has begun to send her gifts at work and she finds the friendship has evolved into love. She is amazed at the intensity of the feelings, to the point where she says they have become much stronger for her online love than her husband. Her spouse has recently decided to put some effort into trying to make their marriage work after what she describes as "two years of not caring". Now she is wondering what to do next. She closes by saying "Help! Besides therapy, do you have any suggestions?"


There are several suggestions I could offer, including marriage counseling if you feel you want to make your marriage work, although I would recommend a therapist who has experience with cyber relationships. The first step is to examine how you honestly feel about your husband and marriage and whether or not you are willing and able to give up your online love in order to try to put your marriage back on track. You need to ask yourself that whole series of questions such as: Do I love him? And that standard Ann Landers question, "would I be better off with or without him?" You must also examine what you want to happen with your online romance. Are you planning to meet? Are you prepared for whatever the outcome might be from such a meeting? If it goes well, where do you want it to go from there? If it goes badly, can you deal with the disappointment? These relationships are highly personal and individual and the outcomes vary accordingly. Only you and the men in your life will be able to provide the answers. The bottom line is you will likely have to choose one or the other, for it is the rare person who can handle both for any length of time.

Story #16 - "Looking"

"Looking" is a 48-yr old married man, new to the Net, who says he is looking for female friendship and possibly a cyber relationship. He notes that most of the pen pal and personal pages he has visited are from young single women "looking for a husband", and wonders if there are other means to meet people more in tune with his thoughts.

Vixen comments:

Rarely do cyber romances happen when you are actively setting out to find one. You click with that special someone when you least expect it. But there are ways and means to meeting a wide cross-section of people on the Net. Real time chat interfaces such as PowWow (see link on Home Page), CyberBabble, and ICQ (I Seek You) all offer world wide instantaneous chat opportunities, one-on-one or in groups. Many people have also met through common interest discussions through a special interest News Group, or through real time gaming online with others. You might do a Net search using key words such as Chat, news groups, or the names of the chat interfaces I listed. Wherever people gather and conversation flows, there is possibility of "seeing that person across the crowded room."

Story #15 - "Wondering & Waiting"

"Kara" is a 32 yr old woman on the west coast who has met a man in Canada over the Net. They developed a romantic relationship over the Net even though both are in Real Life relationships. She feels this man is her true love and he professes the same. They communicate through email and phone calls, and after four months, met physically for the first time. They have since met twice again and plan yet another meeting. She writes about her concerns....the inability to explain how it happened, wondering if it can possibly last or if its wishful thinking, the waiting for him to decide how and when they will be together in Real world. She says at times she feels she has "put her life on hold" waiting for him to decide does he want her to move there, him to move to California, and whether he really wants a long term relationship. It has occured to her that if he "met and wooed me over the Net, he could do the same with anyone else, and maybe has." But, she says, the bottom line is: it is a mentally and emotionally fulfilling relationship, has made her feel better about herself, and makes her happy most of the time. She closes by saying "Nothing is guaranteed in life. Carpe diem."

Vixen comments:

Kara's story is a very typical one. She has gone through the phases of meeting on line, falling in love, emailing, telephoning, and finally meeting. In her case, the meeting was what they had hoped it would be and subsequent meetings have ensued. Now, the decisions have to be made that affect Real World lives. It is always more difficult when one or both is married or has a RW significant other. She has also gone through the soul searching process of asking herself if it's real, or totally illogical, and does he feel the same way or is he playing a game. All good questions....but very personal and individual to each couple. Nobody knows but the people involved. Only time will give you the answers you seek.

Story #14 - "Willing to Settle"

"Katherine" writes that she is married and in cyber love with someone who is also married. She is 44 yrs old and has been married for 21 years, although she feels her marriage has been falling apart for some time. She says she knows in her heart she will never be able to have her cyber love totally, but he brings her so much joy she finds herself settling for the time they have. They love each other very much and share their lives daily. Yet, she wonders how she can resolve and accept the fact that she cannot have him, and wonders why she seems to be willing to settle for what they can have.

Vixen responds:

Katherine is not alone. Many others have written about this same phenomenon. People find themselves drawn into these relationships against their better judgement, with full knowledge they will likely never be able to realize a life together or totally have each other. The other person must meet some need. Perhaps it is the unconditional love without the Real World intrusions we all deal with day-to-day at work and at home. Even though we may share our day-to-day world with each other, we can still be selective in our sharing, and we focus on each other totally. We give and receive love, laughter, sympathy, and caring. We are made to feel that we are desireable, appreciated, and clever. That kind of quality time and attention is hard to come by in the Real World for many. Even though at times there are misunderstandings and hurt feelings, it has a certain excitement and bittersweet quality found in all the great love stories. People often use the expression that their cyber romance makes them feel so much more "alive". So, are we really "settling", or do we subconsciously recognize an important need is being met?

Story #13 - "Love vs Risk"

"Cindy" is a 23 yr old college student who has fallen in love online with a man in another country who is twenty years her senior and newly married in Real World. Cindy writes that she is obsessed with him, thinks of little else, checks email morning, noon, and night, and recently got a home computer because with the school holiday break coming, she could not bear to go without contact for those weeks. They have spoken twice on the phone and "time stood still." He appears to be equally in love with her and says he feels no guilt over loving someone so much. His wife recently discovered he is corresponding with Cindy, and is afraid, although she does not know the content of the letters. Cindy writes that she knows she is "probably setting herself up for a fall" but that it feels so good now, she is willing to take the pain that may be coming later. Cindy closes by saying "Help! Am I crazy?"

Vixen responds:

You aren't crazy. You are caught up in this magical fantasy world of cyber romance just as thousands of others are. It is a very compelling and addictive world once you meet that special someone who appears to be your soul mate. It also seems to me that a person's first cyber romance often hits them the hardest. The experience is so new, so powerful and so exciting that in spite of misgivings, people continue to take risks even when they can see the pitfalls ahead. It is an emotional roller coaster. I wish I could help by giving you the magic formula to make everything turn out "happily ever after", but it is likely that someone is going to get hurt here....possibly all three of you. I make no judgements, for I truly know how you are feeling and how very difficult it is to stop. You seem to have a pretty good picture of the situation and recognize the hazards. Nobody sets out to fall in love online, to cause pain, or jeopardize their marriages, but all of these things do happen. Eventually things will either blow up with the wife and he will have to give you up if he wants to save his marriage, or else you and he will decide you must meet to see if you have a Real World future together. Either way, it will not be easy. I wish you the best.

Story #12 - "Love vs Language Barrier"

"Marianne" is an 18 yr old University student in Canada who began surfing the Net through the computer lab about three months ago. She has met a wonderful young man, 23, who is French and they have had the "most amazing philosophical conversations" over time until finally they professed their feelings for one another. They converse in French through email, although English is her first language. She feels nobody knows her as he does, that they have shared their souls and she has never had such intense feelings before. She says he is a bit pessimistic about their chances of things really working out in Real World, and she worries about the language barrier, as she writes French better than she can speak it. She wonders if love will overcome the language barrier when they meet, for they have plans to meet before Christmas ('96). She says she is incredibly nervous, and in Real Life they are both quite shy. But she is sure she loves him and feels sure he loves her as well and has high hopes that love will conquer all. Vixen comments: Love is always a nerve wracking proposition even when both speak the same language fluently. But it seems to me your French has been good enough for the two of you to fall in love and communicate your innermost feelings for each other. It is natural to worry about the meeting and to have fears as to whether it can really work out. I don't know of anyone who has ever met in cyberspace who wasn't nervous at the prospects of meeting in Real World, as badly as they wanted to do it. You are both young and there is certainly time for the two of you to take it slow and continue to learn about each other. You are in school and that is something of importance to you and your future. I would encourage you to stay with your studies, continue to correspond, and when you meet in person do not expect too much from each other. Let it happen naturally, try to relax, and the language of love will likely do the rest.

Story #11 - "Frogs to a Prince"

Angelina is a 36 yr old woman who writes that she has at last found her true soulmate after doing her share of "kissing frogs"....her Prince finally surfaced through the Net. She and her love are the same age, both single with children, and even share the same birthdate. Angelina is in Mexico and he is in the SW United States, and plans are in the works to meet very, very soon after months of writing, sending pictures, and talking on the telephone. She feels this is the "best thing in her life to happen to her" and she says no words can express how she is feeling and how deep and wonderful this love is. Her words are simply "To all skeptical people, you must understand these things are real, no matter how far the beloved one is from you." She closes by saying she hopes to be sending us a picture of their wedding one day.

Vixen Comments:

No advice is needed here. These are the kinds of happy letters I love to receive. I will only comment that I hope it turns out to be everything they want it to be when they meet. And I hope I do get that wedding picture.