Electronic Male-Female Relationships

In my continuing series on the evils of electronic communications . . .

Okay, I kid.  Sort of.

In all seriousness, this is a topic worth discussing and exploring.  Now that the internet has been in exploded mode for a dozen or so years, and just about everybody has a cell phone, an email account, and a Facebook account, it’s become pretty common (methinks . . .) for men and women – who would never have crossed paths were it not for the internet – to develop electronic relationships.  Platonic relationships to be sure (although no doubt a percentage of them become something unplatonic), but relationships nonetheless.  This raises a few questions:

~ How meaningful do you actually consider your strictly online relationships to be?

~ Is it weird or somehow inappropriate to have a strictly electronic relationship with someone of the opposite sex?  Is this a relationship you would engage in if you had access to this person in the flesh?  Or is the friendship only there because it’s electronic and therefore safe?

~ How do/should these online friendships – specifically with people of the opposite sex – impact your real life marriage/romantic relationship?  Does your spouse/partner know about your online friendships with people of the opposite sex?  How do they feel about it?

Just like allowing our kids to delve into the world of electronica is something we are the first generation to be faced with, so, too, are we the first generation to be faced with our own online communications and relationships and how they impact our real lives.

So, I’m curious.  Share your experiences and thoughts, please.


8 Comments on “Electronic Male-Female Relationships”

  1. Mumofone
    February 28, 2011 at 9:04 am #

    I’ll share – but I’m boring!
    I only have a small group of FB friends and only one of them is male – my brother in law!
    This is partly because my on-line female friends are part of my support group as a mum. But I guess I probably wouldn’t really develop male friendships on line because it would make me a little uncomfortable and I think it would make my husband uncomfortable. I have male friends at work but I just about never email them. Which is not to say we don’t have the odd risque conversation in person (!!!) but I do not socialise with them outside work either physically or on-line. Come to think of it I don’t socialise that much with my female colleagues either!
    Told you it was boring – but at least I answered your question 🙂

  2. Addie
    February 28, 2011 at 4:23 pm #

    I have a couple of friends that i only know through email and blogs and I consider them true, true friends… one, we have been emailing every day for over 6 years now… its crazy, but true… I love her and consider her one of my best friends.

    As for guys, I have a few friends, but its mostly just facebook and such, nothing serious and we dont email on a regular basis.. my husband knows everything and trusts me completely…

    as well, my husband is the only guy in the elementary education program at his school, so he has lots of friends that are girls, but he doesnt email any of them all the time or anything… I trust him completely

    I think either of us would have a problem if we had a strong bond – even electronically, to someone of the opposite sex… too much room there to breed something else

  3. diane
    February 28, 2011 at 5:51 pm #

    I look at online relationships in the same way I look at IRL relationships – some are fun and games, some have a deeper understanding beneath it all, and some you wish you could avoid, but you can’t. I have a few online friends I have known for the last 10+ years – they went thru my issues with pregnancy, they helped me thru our adoption, and they know as much (if not more) than IRL friends do. the only difference would be they can’t pick out my laugh in a crowded room 😉

    as far as friendships with the opposite sex? one of my best friends is a guy. I grew up with him but we became close friends in junior high school. his wife has an issue with us being friends, so we don’t talk nearly as often as we use to, but my husband has no problem with the phone calls or the face to face visits. I am completely open with him about it.
    I have 2 online male friends that I get ‘flirty’ with. we were once coworkers/classmates and the relationship was the same then. I don’t hide it, we have conversations on my FB wall that have made a person or two question me, but it’s who we are. hubby has seen my wall, I have told him about the comments left by these guys and he has even met one of the guys when we worked together 10 years ago.
    hubby has some female friendships that he holds close as well, one since high school. it doesn’t bother me. I’m secure in our relationship and in his feelings for me, so I don’t get jealous. I welcome it really and I love the fact that he encourages my friendships as well.

  4. Maggie
    March 1, 2011 at 4:02 am #

    I rarely develop personal, one-to-one, e-mailing relationships with people that I only know on-line. But there are a good number of male bloggers that I follow, and comment frequently on their blogs. Just like having male coworkers, I don’t feel the least disloyalty about that, nor jealousy or concern about my mate’s female friends like that.

    Most of the folks I talk to on Facebook or Live Journal are people I already know in real life, and the conversations we have online are just continuations of that.

  5. starrlife
    March 6, 2011 at 3:02 pm #

    I tend to think that the line that can’t be crossed is the “anything you wouldn’t say or do with your partners full knowledge” thing. Say, if the opposite sex friend was also a friend of the family and came over for dinner. I am cautious and slow to befriend men online since they could literally be anyone but I do frequent some men’s blogs (rare as they are) . And most of my online “friends” I don’t talk to on the phone or visit IRL anyway. But I see the idea about the male coworker – and I’m careful about my boundaries there too ie. I don’t go out for drinks when my husband is out of town etc.. Hmmmm…. something to think about.

  6. Sam
    March 17, 2011 at 8:19 am #

    When I was married to my first husband 15 years ago online chatting was just starting to get popular. I had ICQ (personal messenger) and visited a US based chat place that I got quite addicted to. I believe this happened at that time because I was very unhappy and unfulfilled in my life and as I was home alone (with 3 young children) so often being online was an escape and also companionship. I became quite “close” to a group of around 30 people similarly aged to myself (then in my late 20’s to very early 30’s). 16 of these were based in Australia (where I live) and the others in America. My (then) husband hated me being on the internet. He was very untrusting and thought I was having affairs online and in real life (which I was not) and there was nothing ‘romantic’ going on with anyone. At 31 my marriage fell apart and my online friends were a shoulder to cry on and friendships that I did not have in my ‘real’ life (as my friends all stopped seeing me when my marriage broke down). My online friends were my saviour at that time. Then the group of Australian based ‘friends’ decided to meet, so we all flew to Victoria for a weekend to meet in person. It was amazing…. we were all who we had been online, no-one had lied about stuff it seemed. We had a great weekend eating, clubbing and then headed home. As time went on most went on with their ‘real’ lives. I did keep in contact with one of the men I had met – Danny. I stayed with him a couple of times over the next year and he came over to visit me. He was not ‘relationship’ material as he was based in another state with two teenage kids (was 15 years my senior) and I was based here with 3 needy primary school aged kids. But… having MET people face to face I thought maybe this was a way to meet new people who lived close to me (woman for friends and hopefully, if I was lucky, a new love at some stage). Danny, said I should put my profile on an online dating site… .which I did and after doing a cross reference got a short list of guys around my age that had similar lives and hopes for the future. I met several of them and saw movies and had dinners. This was quite liberating after having been married for 13 years, that there was hope I would find someone else to love and to love me.

    Two of the American woman I made online friendships with are still friends 15 years later and we chat on facebook and email regularly and one day I hope to meet Kelly (who lives in Alaska). So although I have not actually ‘met’ Kelly we have spoken on the phone, sent letters and photos to each other of our lives, and have exchanged more personal information with each other than I have any other female friend I have ever had. This online friend has actually (other than my 2nd husband) has been my life best friend.

    so….. online dating….
    In late 1999 I met my (soon to be) second husband online at the dating site… he was separated from his defacto and had two young children. We had so much in common but our paths would never have crossed if it were not for computers. We met for dinner New Year’s week 2000….. AND…. have not been apart since. We married 10 years ago and our children are now all but grown up – his 16 & 17 (and live with us) and mine 19, 21 & 23 (who now have flown the coop).

    So… I would say that if you are open to having a ‘relationship’ online it can happen. I have known, over those past 16 years, many people who have had online flings, who have flirted outrageously even though they are married and seemingly happy in their ‘real lives’. I have known many marriages that have broken down due to online flings where the heart is no longer in the ‘real life’ relationship but with the seemingly perfect online partner. Most people I know see online flirting as not cheating or as harmless.. however I do not see it this way. I think online flirting is like “the grass is greener” scenario. I think that these emotional relationships can start to taint your real life and drive an emotional wedge between you and your partner.

    Since meeting my second husband I have not been to a chat place nor would I look to make new online friends in this way again. I have a very trusting, open, love and friendship with my 2nd husband (something I never had with my 1st husband). We trust each other completely and both are of the opinion that ‘flirting’ is cheating whether it is online or not. My heart is totally committed to my husband and I have no room to let anyone else in…. he is my other half of me.

    I go to several online blogs… yours of course Lisa and a couple of Australian blogs because I prefer to read them rather than the news websites while I’m having a tea break at work. I found your website quite a few years ago as a link on another American blog (which I no longer go to as she annoys me a lot nowadays!). I like that you are down to earth, and are coping with a large family and other things life is throwing at you. I love that you speak your mind, that you are strict with your children (the only way to raise them… with boundaries and love), and that you are athiest (and are not afraid of sticking to your guns). Having got my 3 biological kids to numerical adulthood and having raised 2 step children for 11 years I can understand a little of what you are going through with your brood and also what you have to come as they all head into their teenage years and beyond. I admire that you have strict guidelines for your children and stick to them because (having been their myself) I know that this is the only way you can raise kids in this electronic, lazy, ME generation and get out with your sanity (partially intact at least!).

  7. tom may
    November 16, 2011 at 1:48 pm #

    I had been married for 33 years and thought I had a pretty good marriage — not bad, but not the greatest. I thought I was the major reason we didn’t have a GREAT marriage. Funny thing is that I don’t feel bad about myself and I really like the somewhat quirky, eccentric person I am. Still, I know I’m not always an easy person to live with. I used to yell a lot, but now the only person I yell at is me, and that is more to relieve any stress I may be feeling, and usually when I am alone.

    I’ve had 10-15 male/female friendships — both professionally and online — outside of my marriage that my wife did not know about or only knew about generally. Only one of them ever turned at all sexual in nature, and that ended after about a week. I just didn’t like the way the conversation made me feel or think.

    For most of my life I’ve gotten along better with women than with men. I didn’t have the greatest male peer relationships as a child, teen or young adult. I’m much more comfortable talking with women than with men, although in the past few months that has changed dramatically.

    My profession involves a great lot of travel and I believe that contributes to a deterioration of my “people skills”. Before I quit “drinking”, I would go to a bar almost every night and strike up conversation with almost anyone who was there. Among other things, I now realize the “bar time” helped keep my people skills honed. My preference was to talk to a woman, but I always guarded myself by never removing my wedding band, showing pics of my family and talking about my children and wife. Truth is I liked my marriage and I loved my my family, and I didn’t want to give them up.

    My “good life” all came to a catastrophic (to me) end this past summer because of something that happened to me 2 years ago. Two years ago, I developed a relationship with a woman who I knew to be schizophrenic (STUPID, STUPID MOVE ON MY PART!!!!). Don’t mess with male or female psychos. Within a few days, we were having conversations that went far beyond the limits of decency, and I was looking for a way to extricate myself from the relationship without “setting her off”. At one point, she volunteered that if we wanted to be together, she could make “arrangements”. I wasn’t entirely sure what she meant, but it sounded threatening and I was sufficiently alarmed.

    Within a week, I was extricated from the relationship, and thought that was the end of it. Several events over the next few months took me far away from any contact with this woman. Then, this past summer, she reappeared — first on my FB page, then my wife’s, and then my 2 children’s pages. Severely alarmed and frightened, I had an emotional meltdown unlike anything I had ever experienced. When confronted by my family, I collapsed emotionally and confessed to acts and deeds I had only ever thought about doing; nothing that I had actually done.

    The result was my family was horrified and I was ostracized completely. My wife and son told me I had to find somewhere else to live. Not understanding what had happened, my wife was concerned for her own safety. I left, but I was lost emotionally, mentally and socially. I lived with friends on the weekend and traveled during the week. Finally, I took an extended “road trip” to call on potential customers. My trip took me from Georgia to North Carolina to Tennessee to Kentucky to Indiana to Illinois to Wisconsin to Minnesota to North Dakota to South Dakota to Kansas to Missouri to Tennessee thru Mississippi to Alabama and back to Georgia — 15 states in 18 days.

    While I was on my “road trip”, I regained a new “sanity” and discovered I did not need my family was much as I had always thought. I gained a new independence, but I lost some of my social and relational skills, which I am now trying to build back. People are important to me. In Genesis, God said, “It is not good for man to be alone” so He made him a companion. We all need friendship, companionship and just plain ole unconditional love and acceptance.


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