Good Friends I’ve Never Met

Thanks to the Internet, I have good friends I’ve never met. My latest good friend lives in Romania. We’ve been writing back and forth for about 9 months now and have had some really enjoyable conversations. She is a very interesting and happily married young woman, but I’ve never met her. I’ve never even seen a picture of her, but she did send me a photo of her hand. I guess her husband wouldn’t approve of any more than that. Or perhaps he doesn’t even know about me. 

I've had a long-term correspondance with Donna in Texas. We’ve been writing back and forth for several years now.  She was married when we first began writing, but got divorced. Now she is happier, and I don’t hear from her all that often. Then there is Linda who is an attorney in Texas. We also don’t write that much any longer. It's been off and on for four or five years. Amanda is another good friend. She lives in Chicago and is pregnant with twins.

Not all of my Internet friends are female, but women tend to be more “chatty” than men. Besides, there is a stigma about keeping in close touch with other men that you've never met. Or perhaps it’s just in my mind. Arnaud is French but works in Germany. We write infrequently. John M. and I also correspond infrequently. He was an Army medic in Afghanistan and now is back home.

It is often easier to maintain an Internet relationship with someone you don’t see than with someone you see regularly. For one thing, you can be really ugly, obese, or smell bad, and the other person will never know. With Internet relationships, what you say and how you say it are all that matter. It’s too bad that real life relationships can’t be that simple.

About 10 years ago I was surfing an Internet bulletin board for equestrians and ended up e-mailing two people who were horse owners. One answered a posting that I had put on the bulletin board about bareback riding with no tack. She was from somewhere in the southwest and we began a fun back-and-forth conversation about our horses and riding that lasted for a few weeks – until she said something about her mother not allowing her to do such and such. Yikes! Then she said she was 13 and wanted to know how old I was. I told her and she quickly ended that Internet correspondance. The other “female” was in graduate school and we began a long-term communication eventually led to our meeting – and our to our downfall. I'm sorry I ever met her. Just writing would have kept it uncomplicated and we might still be friends.

When I was on, I would exchange e-mail with interesting people. The problem was that actually meeting them usually revealed things about them that made the relationship less than desirable. They looked nice in their photos, and their profiles seemed great, but incompatibilities quickly surfaced that made me (or them) wish we had left it at great conversation and not met. It was the equivalent of a brochure advertising an exciting and sunny vacation on “Pleasure Island.” But once you arrived it was like being ship wrecked.

There are degrees of pleasantness or unpleasantness in any relationship, and certainly miscommunication in any form can lead to disaster. Internet relationships have only one variable – words, so they are much simpler. Person-to-person relationships are subject to many more variables and to our other senses. On the Internet, if you can just focus on what someone says, and not how they say it, the potential for fun is only limited by the time you have. But don’t e-mail me about this, because I don’t have the time.

Postscript: My Romanian friend sent me a photo and said her husband knows about me. She is as beautiful as she is smart. Her husband is a lucky man!