The anonymity of the cyber space make us throw caution to the wind. It often bares the passions that one keeps in check in real lives. There have been cases of cheating with dangerous after effects in the worldwide web. There is an ugly side to social networking sites as well. Not all singles interact with the idea of taking the relationships seriously. For some it is just entertainment, an excitement, a means of having fun. Those who succumb to such overtures, find themselves in a tight spot. Feelings of guilt, shame and anger come over the person jilted. Things are not much different for the married people. Marriage is certainly not a bed of roses, not forever at least. After the initial passion and euphoria dies down, life may become a routine. Men can get caught up in earning money and women with household responsibilities , kids and the like. Tension creates distance in a relationship. Kavita, a practising psychologist, enumerates her narrative with case studies, in the weekly column, exclusively in Different Truths.
It is no surprise that love makes the world a beautiful place to live in. It brings a dull and monotonous life come alive, which otherwise has no excitement left, apart from the day-to-day routine. People long for the lost zeal, the dulled spark from their lives. When life settles into a routine, love life does suffer, not intentionally as such, but because of the responsibilities and roles, one is saddled with. Sometimes as age progresses, people may want to gather their life together and live out their dreams and fantasies.
Marriage is certainly not a bed of roses, not forever at least. After the initial passion and euphoria dies down, life may become a routine, relegating love life into the background. Most often one partner feels this lack, while for the other one, life would seem normal. Men can get caught up in earning money and women with household responsibilities, kids and the like. Tension creates distance in a relationship where love has already started to wane. This is actually not love that wanes, but passion which reduces or becomes zero.
For the partners who miss this, living becomes tough turning them bitter and resentful towards life and also their spouses in some cases. Though they understand that responsibilities cannot be avoided, the spouse who misses romance in the marriage expects things to improve. When it is not forthcoming, thoughts of another person may crop in, albeit reluctantly.
The question then arises is about the ways and means to make this happen. For most people going out and meeting people may not be suitable for various reasons. So from the comfort of their homes, they find it easy to ‘meet’ people. A couple of years back, there were chat rooms where people met and exchanged views. One had to assign the time and login into that particular chat room to talk. This was not very comfortable as having computers at home was a luxury and also the timings had to match, which was a challenge and yet people took to it like fish to water. The effort of fixing up a time and going to a cybercafé to chat was joyous for people.
Then as technology advanced and computers were no longer a luxury, social media sites entered the scene. These sites connect one to long lost friends, old friends, old flames, new people and many such connections develop into romantic relationships. Someone you knew in school but never had any such thoughts about becomes a lover. Yes, this can happen. Not just old connections, there are people who meet complete strangers and yet the connection seems old and strong. It does not feel like you don’t know each other. It all starts with sending a friend request or an invitation to connect. There are various social networking sites where one can send such invitations and connect and share their life, photographs, etc.
While many people ping (send a message via text) on these sites, to unknown people to explore possibilities of a casual fling, there are some others who mean what they say. The social networking sites have come under the dock for vulgar communications suggesting short term casual affairs. In fact, many people have been victims of vulgar chats and some bad relationships. When it comes to the singles, the curiosity to know about a person they are attracted to takes precedence and they may strike a conversation to test waters. If they share the same wave length, they discuss more about themselves and soon become good friends. Some of these relationships turn romantic midway if not from the start. Most often one of them may already harbour such feelings but may not express it immediately. Sometimes such single couples may get married ending their loving story sweetly.
There have been cases of cheating with dangerous after effects. There is an ugly side to social networking sites as well. Not all singles interact with the idea of taking the relationships seriously. For some it is just entertainment, an excitement, a means of having fun. They initiate a conversation very innocently, test waters and when they get a reply, they proceed further and after they gain the other persons confidence, they reveal their needs. Mostly they are sexual favours, like a kiss, petting, necking and the like. They might use the term “Being in love” to entice the other person. They use the term “ultimate love” so as to surrender themselves in mind body and spirit. But actually all they would be looking for is only the body. Those who succumb to such overtures, find themselves in a tight spot. Feelings of guilt, shame and anger come over the person jilted. A few may end their lives, if they find themselves pregnant or due to humiliation. There have been cases of rape and murder too in connection with such relationships.
Neetu (all names changed to conceal identity) was a young teen, all of 13 when she joined a social networking site. She was not confident about her looks and appearance as her mother had always demeaned her looks ever since she was a kid. Neetu grew up with an inferiority complex, which had hampered her life and self-confidence. When she found that she could interact with people on this site without meeting them in person, she was overjoyed. Soon she had many ‘friends’ and had a full life. Her self-confidence was beginning to improve and today she has found the guy she intends to spend her life with. Whether this would materialise or not, only time can tell.
Sahana was an overconfident woman, who thought no end of herself. She was proud of her beauty and thought she could have any man she wanted. In fact, this had been her favourite pastime right from college days. She would entice boys and after some time drop them and move on to others. Many years later, things had still not changed, until one day she met Rahul on a social network site and the two began to chat. Rahul seemed genuine to Sahana and she fell in love with him quite soon. It is another matter that Sahana’s reputation was well-known, as she had been actively pursuing men on various social networks. For the first time Sahana had actually fallen in love but when Rahul turned her down, she felt her world collapse.
Coming to married people, let us divide them into two categories, happily married, and married, but not happy. The term ‘happily married’ denotes couples who have managed to strike a rapport on all fronts, be it physical, social, emotional, spiritual, etc. Now, such people do not really have a reason to seek any intimate relationships outside of their homes. But then boredom may set in at any point and the happily married couples turn into happy but bored couples, still in love with each other. Logically speaking, they should do all they can to rekindle the lost zing in their lives and remain loyal to each other. And they may intend to do that. Sometimes an invitation to connect on social networking sites can create havoc in their lives. What may start of as an innocent chat may lead to more intense conversations? The other person may turn out needy. And the happily married spouse may only intend to offer some good words and a little comfort to the needy person. This might lead to further conversations and soon the spouse may get caught in a tricky situation, as proximity can generate feelings of closeness. So, the happily married spouse might get involved, unwilling, initially, but as time progresses, s(he) may be party to the affair willingly, but with guilt.
The married but not so happy couples are at a stage in their lives where they long for a good relationship in their lives. It may or may not be with their spouse. What starts in their imagination may take roots in real life when the opportunity knocks. When they find an invitation to connect, they may do so with an open mind. If they like the initial conversations, they want to know more about the person and soon may end up calling apart from texting. Sharing about ones’ personal lives gives a feeling of oneness and solidarity. The other person may be married or single. The peace and relief the unhappily married partners derive from such relationships cannot be described in words. It may seem like unconditional love being showered on love-starved married people. They look forward to talking to their new found partner’s every day, as it makes their pain in real life bearable. For some time, the bliss they may experience gives them the much-needed push to carry on with their loveless lives. But again such affairs cannot be kept in secrecy for long. For that matter any affair cannot be kept in the dark for long. The emotions felt in such affairs may get so intense that in the hurry to connect they may leave behind some traces or proofs, which may bring the affair out in the open.
People of all ages are indulging in such affairs. Age does not seem to matter here as only love is what they seek. Physical relationships have also been in the reckoning since the advent of online romance.
Veena was a happily married wife, or so she thought, until her loving husband’s online romance affair came out in the open. Anand loved Veena very much but had got involved with Deepa suddenly as their online friendship had turned into love before he could understand. He was perplexed about it and would often question his feelings of being able to love two women at the same time. Very soon Deepa had become clingy and as Anand had no intentions of leaving Veena, he had to show Deepa the door. It took him some time, but he was happy he had resolved the issue. But then once a person crosses the line, there is a chance of doing that again and again. It is all about leaving your comfort zone after all.
Rajeev was an unhappily married husband and his wife Bindu, did not seem to care much about this. She longed for love and romance in her life and would imagine the perfect guy walking into her life very often. This continued till she met Vihaan online and soon the two fell in love. Vihaan also loved her equally though he was also married. The bliss the two experienced saw Bindu happier and content. She was able to function better and soon the conditions at home improved. Her kids got her full attention and as for Rajeev, she did her duty for him. While they could not bring back the love in their lives, Rajeev and Bindu stopped being hostile towards each other and the fights had reduced leaving the home a lot peaceful. Sometimes such relationships are not meant to destroy families as they are emotional relationships. Though it is wrong, if it gives you happiness without actually doing any thing physically, what is the harm in it is what such couples feel. The strange part is that the unhappy spouses are ready to support and care for their new lovers having similar shortcomings as their spouses. Maybe the newness in the relationship makes for this allowance.
Love is the only ingredient which can break barriers and make space for communication to set things right. Ego, hurt, sadness and anger can hinder love to flow in relationships creating a void, which is then filled by a third person. Online romance has its merits and demerits. But then you live only once, why should you be unhappy? This is what people feel, which is the reason why such relationships are blossoming.
The question then arises is whether one is emotionally secure or not? If not, should one accept invitations to connect on social networks? What do you think?
Photos from the internet.
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Kavita Panyam is a Counselling Psychologist by profession and a freelance writer by passion. She has won competitions in various magazines for slogan writing, reviews, and several blogging competitions. Her work has been published in reputed magazines across India and abroad. She writes for several well-known ezines and for print magazines. She also features as a guest contributor for various websites.