Counterfeit Relationships

Counterfeit: an imitation that is made usually with the intent to deceptively represent its content or origins.

Recently reading a "truth be told" on someones blog about Internet relationships brought up a surge of regurge in my life too.

About 10 years ago, I moved from my hometown to Chicago for a job I accepted there. I didn't know anyone. Before I left Michigan friends of mine purchased a webtv for me in an effort to keep in touch as my home computer had been lifted by some intruders and was never recovered nor replaced. Being that I moved to a part of the Windy City that wasn't the best, I tended to work during the day and hide out at night.

Thus began my webtv and chatting addiction.

Someone mentioned chat rooms to me. I *went* in and out of these rooms trying to figure out how it worked and the popularity of it all. It seemed dizzying at first and quickly I found that there were places I didn't want to go, places I shouldn't go, and then found the chat room where I was comfortable. Over time, as I went online and *entered my room* I began to feel like Norm on Cheers where everyone knows your name! It started out as filling a void and then quickly became my thing. My world revolved around getting to know these people, learning about their lives and their families. Fending off requests from men, many of them married, and, falling into a *relationship* or two along the way. It was reckless and comforting all at the same time.

Eventually, I did get into a committed relationship with one fellow from Canada, I'll call E. We chatted everyday sometimes for many hours as this was our courting place. We moved from that point to the telephone but still did the bulk of our communication by chatting. We began to care deeply for each other and E was good for me in many ways that I couldn't imagine would happen merely from words being tapped out on a keyboard. We met and after a while became engaged. E visited me and I visited him and quite frankly, we knew each other really well and I loved him deeply. He met my sons and my parents and this is one of the few men in my life that my Dad really liked. E was what he seemed via the net. We began the paperwork for immigration as he was going to move to the U.S.

However, what couldn't be seen or noticed over the Internet that revealed itself over a long time was just how we interacted with each other or others away from the world wide web. It's the same thing, I think, when you are far from family members and suddenly you're together and you see their behaviors in the little things in life. Those little things can and often become big things.

That isn't what kept us from completing the process and becoming husband and wife. Real life did enter in and we both almost simultaneously became care givers for one of our dying parents. The days became months and then it became clear that this relationship would not be. I grieved that loss for quite some time but some differences were slowly revealed to us about myself and E which would possibly have become big things in our daily living together. Because of distance and the unnatural developing of this relationship we had no way of seeing or learning our real differences during our relationship which may have become detrimental in the long run.

It didn't stop me though, from meeting others via the net. It became my comfort zone where I could type away and hide from the eyes of the people I was chatting with. In the earlier days everyone didn't have web cam or even photos online. I never intentionally lied or pretended to be something I wasn't and thereby never looked skeptically at anyone else online either. Because my self-esteem had been trampled and abused throughout my first marriage I thought I knew how someone else would size me up in the "real world" and therefore, immediately decided I would be rejected based on appearance alone. My safe zone was behind the computer typing away with full confidence because I wouldn't fall into the words or other come-ons to feel better about myself. It kept me from letting others take advantage of me when I was one of the walking wounded. Sort of.

The internet sort of short cuts some of the necessary steps of getting to know someone in their full element and for them to know me exactly the same way. It can be totally counterfeit and thereby stealing time, affection and brain space that would be better used elsewhere. I fell more than once for the quick words and fully loaded emails lauding my wonderfulness. I took to heart what some were saying to me as truth when I was in a most fragile state of mind. There were times and places I went in real life and in cyber space that were not good for me but I was trying to fill a void and a hurt and this was my quick fix.

Counterfeit relationships happen every day and often in both worlds. We are tied into the Internet so much that I have to remind myself to stay focused on what is real and what is not. Even my "blogging friends" will really only know some of me.

Except Lou. :)

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