I often hear people bashing online relationships as somehow not real or at least less significant than ‘real’ relationships. My experience has been the opposite in many ways; my online relationships are often deeper and more focused than those I have in the ‘real’ world.
Some of the deepest and best friendships I have ever had are with people I have never met in person. We share our deepest feelings in a way that those around me cannot understand. We discuss our most important topics in a community that understands and supports each other.
I have very deep and important friendships in the ‘real’ world and I have about the same number of superficial and meaningless relationships in both worlds too. The point is, those in my online communities are just as ‘real’ and just as significant as those I have developed in-person, and often much more so.
I have actually met three of my online friends in person and it was fabulous each time. From the moment we first saw each other it was like best friends who had not seen each other for what felt like ‘forever’ ;-). There was palpable excitement on both sides and we quickly moved to each other for a ‘real’ embrace. We all expressed how great it was to meet in person and how our friendships were among the deepest of our lives.
Perhaps it is because I am part of a community that is committed to making a better life out of our bipolar condition. We have found a community that shares our struggles and successes. We have supported each other when those in the ‘real’ world could not understand.
Or maybe it is just that online relationships are at first easier to do. Since we are not communicating through all of the subtle perceptions that cloud our openness, we focus more on what is said that the facial expressions and body language that sometimes seem to say something different.
In any case, I know from personal experience that online relationships can be just as ‘real’ as any others. I would love to know I am not alone in my thinking, so please share your experiences in the comments below. Do you have deep relationships with people you only know online? Have you met any of them in person? Let’s disprove the myth that online relationships are not real and maybe even start some new ones in the process!