Online means an easy choice for anonymity.
If we become uncomfortable with someone's comments, or the direction is not attractive, we can just 'disappear.'
There is no agreement of commitment or accountability here. Not that such is needed or desirable, it is just an observation of the nature of our commenting with each other.
Certainly reasonable or no expectations towards an online exchange will help avoid dis-satisfaction.
The Qs & As that attract me usually have some philosophical note. Some choice to explore new angles on universal subjects like 'What is your perception of death?' or provide usable input such as towards the real-life question, 'How would you address a student question about the topic of god/s?'
A relationship does not have to be long-term to be profound, that is true.
In my own examples, a couple in Phoenix saw my online activity in the 90s and invited me to visit them, from Atlanta. I flew, stayed with them several days, we went to the Red Rocks of Sedona and to less-explored canyon lands. We did 'healing' sessions with each other. Had natural conversations each day. Discussed options for working together. In the end, we each went our ways. It was a significant stepping stone for me, and a memorable experience for them.
Another couple, who lived in Atlanta when I did, invited me into their home for weekly psycho-synthesis sessions over a period of six months. That was also a turning point for me. I had enmeshed myself in a self-limiting belief system, and the inner work we did together enabled me to make tough choices and begin to be more true to myself. Their lives were deeply touched.
Lisa, I especially like your "...every one of those "authentic" moments contributes yet more to my own feeling very real and whole and somehow connected ..."
I know that is true for you. It happened for me once on HP, with the 'topic of god/s' question.
My Q here came up from some self-analysis.
I do not 'expect' others to have had the same experience, though the description asks.
The discontent keeps appearing on my plate, though. I would like to have *more* real-life dialog, something that has a choice to deepen. I feel that my participation in the Q & A, addictive as it is, uses a small part of my gifts - mostly mental, which is not what I want to exercise.
This is not necessarily my farewell. I don't want to just disappear without notice from the Q & A, and am pondering.