Online crushes, virtual romance
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By now I guess 83.7% of the population has met somebody through an online dating service, personal ad or feverish instant messaging. Aside from a few Luddites and people like my business partner who has no need of one at home has a web browser (or two if you've got the cash for an upscale PDA). Far too many of us are reading weblogs, live journals, blogs.
The folks met in the flesh are dealt with cleanly and quickly. Well, not for those foolish few who invite their Internet date to a lavish meal or don't know who to feign an excuse or just tell the guy to shut up. But they are met, viewed, evaluated, cataloged and mostly we move on. Or we are and they do.
What about the ones who never had a chance to get away? The guys who seduce you with a thirty word personal ad, a seductive profile, an enlivening weblog or witty rounds of IMs? You don't read them with intent to fall for them. Their charm is unanticipated. With the instant messages and profiles there is an implied promise. In online forums, groups, clubs and blogs they are just typing away.
A small passion is conceived; maybe you wish you could find something that sounds important, interesting, funny. There's no adequate way to bond and your desire evaporates. Though I did read the journal of self-proclaimed queer woman who would grow quite demented when the gay men she cyber-stalked wouldn't, couldn't return her addict's need for them.
I've had my online crushes. They've been benign. An evening when I wished, really wished … (OK, maybe a few nights). I was never fool enough to give they feelings weight. The reasoning part of me knew my feelings were just the stirrings of imagination. I've never felt there'd be sense in pursuing a long distance relationship even with someone I'd met. When I was dating using the web the guys who were too far away did make me sad. All the good ones seemed to live far, far away.
A tiny bit on Yahoo but much more when I was busy on Live Journal I found myself wishing that someone was near. Oddly the two times someone was going to be in my neighborhood I ignored their invitation. The problems with the guy I still live with left me all too tempted to folly.
I knew what a couple of my Live Journal crushes looked like. More often I didn't. They had an erotically compelling personality. I seduced myself not with their surface but the qualities of who they seemed to be.
One of my Yahoo crushes posted his photos. It wasn't so much is appearance as being able to link his physicality with his persona. He looked lovelier than he would have without words to attach to the images. Something about him made him seem as though he'd be a nice complement. I wanted to pick him up into my arms. He was too distant and too young.
One of my strongest LJ crushes was on someone who posted and quickly withdrew a very blurry webcam photo "she" used as an icon. But "her" persona was sheer sex. Not that she was trying. Another was a woman that I have a very clear idea of what she looks like. Again the words we exchanged made her seem engaging and lovable. In real life we probably have almost nothing in common.
With maybe two exceptions my wish I could have to chance to know these folks more intimately (in all shades of the word) didn't make me fret. The couple that did make me wish I could modify geography, age, whatever it took, well, I've done some dopey things but wouldn't ruin a happy exchange by trying to achieve the unlikely if not impossible. Had the web been about when I was younger I'd have made a huge fool of myself.
And I kind of treasure these inadvertent arousals, even the sometimes-powerful if impossible feelings of affection.
Sadly I do know of people who've reduced themselves to misery by moving hundreds of miles away to be with someone they loved but had never met. Far away from family and friends, dependent on someone who proves a spooky stranger.
Some people fall in love with a poster or pin-up boy and make love to him with their hand. Others obsessed beyond sense establish web shrines to him (really to their enslavement to image they've superimposed on his face and body).
So I can't help but suspect that there are gay men out there who felt as though they met the man of their dreams on the web. Met him in a very limited way. Not face to face. His banter or his photos left you panting.
Or you did have a date, met in a bar or a nice dinner. Maybe even spent a night together. He hasn't returned your calls. Never will but you are still pining for him.
Even if you haven't had a crazy passion for someone you've never met, or only met once you must know a few gay guys who think they've met their 'soulmate' on the web and can't rest until they get him.