We’ve all heard and read ad nauseum about “internet predators.” Whilst, of course we need to take precautions, we should be careful not to throw out the baby with the bathwater! After all there are predators in bars and nightclubs too!
I’m the proud mother of a very smart (and slightly socially awkward) son who will be 20 years old in January 2013. As a toddler and young child people called him “slow to warm up”. In other words, he was the little boy hanging on my pant leg for at least 30 minutes or so in a new environment. He never really dated anyone and chose to go to his Matric Dance (like a Prom) with a couple of his mates rather than ask a girl to go with him! Oh … did I mention that he could type on a keyboard before he learnt to write? Yup, computers have featured prominently in his life since he was about 3 years old!
Just over a year ago he “met” a young lady whilst playing an online “multi-player role playing game.” Over a period of approximately 8 months of playing, video-chatting every night on Skype, Facebook posts, etc., my son and this young lady changed their Facebook status to “in a relationship”.
I would be lying if I didn’t admit that, at first, I found it hard to accept that this relationship was real! I was just happy that I had a teenage son who stayed home at night, had never been drunk in his life, didn’t smoke cigarettes and thought that “trying drugs is stupid”! He was happy and we were happy.
Then he came to tell us that his girlfriend was coming to Cape Town and was it ok for her to stay with us. For a second my hubby and I didn’t really know how to respond. In the end there was only one answer we could give … “Of course son, we’ll be happy to meet her!”
You realise that up until that moment, all we knew about this girl was what our naturally taciturn son chose to share with us. I told him that since she’d be staying with us, I’d like her to be my Facebook friend so we could get to know each other a little bit. They were both “cool” with that, so I felt a bit better about the situation. E and I started to send each other messages. Her English is very good even though it’s not her first language, so we didn’t have much trouble communicating. She seemed nice enough.
Eventually the day arrived. I prepared the guest bedroom for her. And when the time came, my son and I went to fetch her at the airport. I had no idea what to expect really, but when my son and E saw each other they hugged and kissed like this wasn’t the first time they’d met in real life! There was none of the awkwardness I expected (except from me … I wasn’t really sure if I should hug her or not.). In the end, my Italian origins won out and I hugged her like a long lost relative too!
From that moment on, E and my son were virtually joined at the hip. My 16 year-old daughter proclaimed that she was “disgusted by their PDAs” (public displays of affection). She never really took to E, but then again, she’d never seen her brother behave that way. He never even liked to cuddle as a baby, and now you couldn’t pry those two apart with a crowbar!
Long story short, she spent 3 weeks with us before she had to return home. Life has gone back to “normal.” “Normal” includes my son spending hours every night on Skype with her. I have no doubt that she is his first real love!
He’s now saving up to visit her and her family in Germany for Easter next year. So far, their relationship has endured the test of time, the test of physical separation and (at least for her) meeting the family. I suppose, whether this relationship continues to endure or not will depend on my son’s experience when he is on her “home turf”. Watch this space ….
How would you have responded if you found yourself in my situation? Do you believe that a relationship which starts on the Internet can endure in real life?
This is an original post for World Moms Blog by Mamma Simona from Cape Town. She shares her home with a devoted husband, 2 teens, 2 dogs and 2 cats. You can find her alter ego on www.blogbythephoenix.com.
Photo source: www.newstechnology.blogspot.com
My sister is happily married to the man she met online. 🙂
That’s reassuring! 🙂
I think a lot will depend on what happens next year when my son travels to her country to meet her family (which includes her 3 year old daughter from a previous relationship)!
I can see how this whole internet love may worries parents. I met my ex husband online too through a friend. While my story didn’t work out I have a lot of friends who is happily married to their spouses brought to you by the internet 🙂
Simona, your son’s story is near and dear to my heart. When I was 22 I met a 24 bloke from England in New York City. We spent every night on the phone (even if he fell asleep to my talking some nights because it was so late for him!), and we visited as much as we could. It was so much fun back in 1998, and it still is! He is my husband, and we’ve been married 11 years!
Good luck to your son and his girlfriend!!
Thanks Jen! 🙂
His girlfriend and I are keeping in touch too (thank God for for the Internet!). I really hope it works out for them … even though it will be hard for me to let my son go, if they choose to live in her country instead of ours!
I think a reality of this day and age is the number of relationships that start on the Internet. I don’t think the online venue changes the “rules” very much. Back in the day where we met people in bars or at parties, we had to be just as cognizant of safety and risks and so forth. I think you did well by your son, and I like to think that I would be as open-minded and supportive if it were my child.
And yes, love that starts on the Internet has just as much chance of enduring as love that starts anywhere else. As long as the couple involved are willing to put some effort into the relationship, anything can be possible.
I agree, Kirsten 🙂
Obviously I’ll keep you all posted 😛
The next possible “speedbump” I foresee is what happens when my son travels to her home next year. Again, a lot of “firsts” are involved … starting with first solo plane trip!
Terrific post. I guess we’re really lucky that we live in a world where people who click can find each other even if it’s an ocean away. I’m happy for them both and thrilled that the three weeks went well, I was kind of expected a let down after the long distance build up. Keep us posted on how it’s going !!
I actually met my husband online. Our first year of knowing each other was only through the Internet. My husband says that he fell in love in me before we even met in real life. I was more skeptical about it… but I really liked him too (no question about it). Here we are: Two kids, happily married… SO, yes, a relationship which starts on the Internet can endure in real life!
How fabulous! I think for people who are highly-sensitive, in particular, internet relationships can be a great way to communicate and develop friendships – no stumbling over words or stammering into our coffee cups that way. Yes, of course we have to be cautious but we can also trust that most people in the world are good.