- Gender and Relationships
Online Relationships from The Past. Is it Time for Reconnection? M4M Relationship Advice
… I need some solid advice right about now. I’m a fan of yours and I’ve probably read 200 or more of your Hubs. ... I’m a 31 year old male and I’ve been single for 2 years. I was in a 4 year relationship with a woman that I planned to marry but changed my mind. You wrote about a man’s rights of passage and his saturn return changing everything. I can see how that happened to me. I have been attracted to other men since I was a teenager. I did not want to be who I was so I concentrated on building a life where no one would know. I really believed I could do it and be with her but once everything changed for me there was just no more denying who I was. … Since we broke up I have been thinking about someone I knew a long time ago. This is where this gets very complicated. There used to be these huge chatrooms for men on this one website. I started chatting in them after September 11th. It was a place I could go and pass some time while I couldn’t work but it became a real addiction. I spent a lot of time in those chat rooms. … I feel like I was closer to those men then I’ve ever been to anyone in my life. I chatted for years with these guys. I used fake pics and lied about who I was. No one I was chatting with knew the truth. I know probably most of them were fake too. Pics and details were probably fake etcetera. But I think those were just stupid masks to hide behind because we were all alike in some ways. Many of us were scared to come out or were in denial. We talked about all kinds of interesting things and we didn’t judge each other. I know how this sounds but I still believe I was closer to these guys than anyone ever and that these relationships were real even though the masks were fake.
There was one guy in particular. He was my online boyfriend. We never spoke on the phone or on cam but we shared such intimate conversations. It was a much deeper relationship than any other I’ve had. When I was about 24 I just stopped. I realize from reading your Hubs that my frontal lobes probably developed at that time. I started to fear being found out and I felt guilty and I pulled away from the chatrooms. When I ended it with my online boyfriend I spent days crying. Before that I just thought it was okay with him that we never be together in real life ways because he probably used a fake pic and a fake name too. But our closeness was as real for him as it was for me. He begged me not to end it but I was so scared at that point I just had to. It had all been too intense and I began to understand the ramifications of these lies. So I broke away. He gave me his phone number and real name and address and everything and he kept emailing me asking if he could come to New York to meet me. He said he was wiling to come out for me and lose his family and everything he just didn’t want to lose me. He shed any lies. But I wasn’t the man he was. And I left with all my lies in tact. I’ve never forgotten him or anyone from those chats. But him I still dream about. Through out my whole relationship with my girlfriend I would close my eyes and think about him and wish things could be different. I am now 31 and I’m single like I said for 2 years. I have recently found him, my online boyfriend from those chatrooms years ago, he’s on facebook. I feel like a stalker. I never stopped loving him. … I don’t know what to do. Should I contact him? If you think I should, then what should I say? If you think I should not, then please tell me how do I forget about him?
Yes, I think you should contact him.
I had to leave parts of your email out just for the sheer size of it. All the relevant info is there.
When a person is hiding inside of themselves, whether it’s while coming to terms with who they are, or dealing with feelings of fright or pain as many were after 9/11/01, or if they are within an isolated place in their lives (see the movie Catfish,) being able to go online and experience human connections can be very powerful. You’re right; that closeness you felt to those men was very real indeed.
But while that closeness was real the people aren’t real, and that’s a very hard part of this to grasp. He wasn’t real, just like you weren’t. I’m sure you shared honest feelings, emotions, thoughts, experiences, and more. I’m sure you went into chat and talked about actual events; perhaps the death of a loved one, your relationship with your father, your anxiety over 9/11, memories from childhood, and more. I’m sure that within the cloak it was all very real. But step outside of that cloak and look in. You have to be able to see that it wasn’t really you. It wasn’t the truth. It was just a part of you that was dressed up in disguise.
There is a “you” that is whole. It includes what you’re like when you’re in a bad mood, your job, what you look like, what you go through dealing with your family, crowds, co-workers, and everyone you ride the subway with. It includes the things you want to share, and the things you don’t or don’t think to. It includes all this stupid little minutia you that makes you who you are. When you’re online you filter. It’s not the truth. And when you’re online with a fake name and a fake pic, the real you is even further removed. As much as those conversations with your online boyfriend 8 – 10 years ago were intense, they just weren’t truthful.
I think the important thing about your specific situation is that you were the one that pulled away. That says a lot. And you went on to have real life relationships. You were even engaged. Granted, you were still in denial of who you really were and it didn’t work out, but it was still real life truthful experience. (I’m curious as to how your ex-fiance is, and how she handled the break up.)
It is because you’ve made that leap on your own, I am offering my advice of contacting him. I think at 31, after a real life relationship, and your Saturn Return/Rites of Passage, you are capable of doing this without sliding into some kind of Hermit-mode where you sit at the computer with another fake profile and attempt to connect without truth.
But contacting him will require specific things. First, you need to apologize and be extremely forthright about the things that were fake. In that first message you send to him on Facebook you need to say the words “I’m sorry.” Tell him who he knows you as, and from where, but make it clear the information in this new profile is truthful and honest. You need to contact him as yourself, your real-life self with your real name and photo, and a real profile including where you really live and really work. This is the only way to do it.
Be prepared for the possibility that he’ll not respond, block you, write back only to say “Screw off,” or “No thanks.” It’s his call and you’ll have to respect it. You’ll have to move on.
If he does accept your friend request it may be just as a Facebook Friend. He may have no interest in connecting. He may see you very differently in his mind’s eye when he remembers you. The things you cherish may have turned toxic for him. He was the one that didn’t want to give up, that wanted to come into real life and meet. You were the one that rejected that. He could remember you as a liar or a coward. Or a waste of time. I’m sorry, but you have to be prepared for this. His version of you may not be flattering.
If he is open to this, maybe even interested in getting to know you for real as you seem to be, I promise you the only way is to bring this into realtime as quickly as possible. NO CHATS. Give him your phone number. Talk on the phone, or on Skype immediately. And set up a real time meeting. If he doesn’t live near you, then that means you have to make an arrangement. Drive to him, book a flight, whatever it is you need to do, but do not slide back into that comfort zone of being behind the keyboard.
If you aren’t 100% prepared to do that, then don’t contact him.
Ten years is a long time. You’ve both grown. If he’s in your age range, he went through his Saturn Return too. If he’s on Facebook he’s not hiding. You have hung onto the idea of him for a very long time. While I usually encourage people to let go of the past and move forward, it seems you aren’t. You’ll be released from the grasp of the past one way or another once you contact him. Whether he tells you off or accepts your invitation to meet over dinner, you’ll be facing a new direction with this.
Please keep in touch, let us know what happens. Good luck Dusty. Namaste.