Online Love
The Web provides yet another way to cheat

As if marriage didn't have enough hazards to face, the Internet adds an ever-increasing threat: cyber love.
Don't get me wrong, I think the Internet is absolutely wonderful. It has advanced communication faster than any other development in history, is accessible even in remote areas around the globe, and, personally, it has provided me with a new career path.

The Internet has created jobs, businesses, wealth and power. It provides a way for people to communicate with family and friends by chat or e-mail. It provides a support network (such as the "family" that has developed on the Divorce Support Forum) for people who perhaps have no other source of good support in a time of need.

It is a new, trendy way to meet potential mates.

And it has provided another way for cheaters to cheat. A person who is unhappily married or who has a problem being faithful can be "single and looking" with a name like "Candy" or "Studman" with an age, physical attributes, career, and economic status all created to fit the person they wish they were instead of the person they really are. If they need a photo to go along with their new persona they can "lift" one that suits them their their online "friend" wants to exchange photos. If they're lucky, the two of them won't have lifted photos from the same site.

It can be a harmless pastime -- becoming another person for a few hours of "harmless" fun in a chatroom or in e-mail exchange. It can take a person's mind off a bad situation in their home and marriage. It can add the sizzle that's been missing from an otherwise ordinary life.

But who is fooling whom?

When "Candy" and "Studman" chat or send e-mail back and forth, which one of them is taking the exchange seriously and which one is only doing it for laughs? Are they both real or are they both creating an online persona that will eventually cause them grief?

Love online doesn't have to be a disaster if you're single and cautious. If you're single you'll find plenty of information at the About Dating site.

If you're married, I believe only ONE rule applies: Don't go looking for love online (or anywhere else). It will be hazardous to your marriage!

What makes online love so dangerous to a marriage? When a marriage is in trouble, when a husband or wife is vulnerable and seeking comfort, it is too easy to believe the words in the chat window or written in e-mail. It is too easy to turn an online lover into a fantasy person, a person who fills all the needs, a person who comforts, a person who knows the right words at the right time. A perfect soul mate.

It is too easy to fall for perfected pick-up lines and glossy love words perhaps penned by a "Candy" or a "Studman" who may be playing the game with several people at the same time, or who is in the game only for some "laughs" and who has no intention of showing their true self.

The Web makes it very easy to cheat as too many of you have already learned. Some of you have lost your marriage to your spouse's fantasy lover, and some of you have lost your marriage because you believed "Candy" or "Studman" was the "soul mate" you've been seeking.

Cheating is cheating whether it is with the guy next door or the woman who signs herself "Candy" when she e-mails you. Cheating has never been easier than now, when you can remain anonymous as you turn on your home or office computer, sign on and start typing.

As easy as the new technology has made it, before you think about cheating online, think what it will do to the person you vowed to love and honor. Cheating online is not harmless fun. Virtual sex is not harmless sex. You will hurt someone, your spouse, your family, and even that lonely person who believes those words you type.

If you want to share your online love experience, send me an e-mail with "Online Love" as the subject. I'll use the responses I get in a follow-up feature.

Take care of yourself.