Emma found herself getting concerned about her sister, Julie. All she ever seemed to do these days was spend every waking moment on the computer. They hardly ever seemed to talk any more. While they had once shared a close relationship, most of their conversations of late seemed to revolve around when the computer was going to be free for anybody else to use. And it would normally end in an argument, with Julie stalking off and Emma being upset.
Then one day, Emma began to realize what it was that had Julie so hooked. While Julie had always been quiet and reserved, with not much of a social life, suddenly she was out every night. Or she was on the phone till the wee hours, when she was not at the computer, having whispered conversations. Emma accidentally chanced upon the computer when her sister had left the room in a hurry and the screen she was using was still active. It was a popular dating site. Normally, Julie was meticulous about leaving the screen blank whenever she finished. When Emma confronted her about it, she accused her of being jealous and not wanting her to have a good time.
What Julie did not realize was that Emma’s concerns for her were legitimate ones. She and many like her, suffer from an addiction as real as substance abuse. And while the effects may not be as immediately devastating or life threatening, they are nonetheless, long lasting and permanent.
People like Julie who get addicted to cyber dating, soon become victims of it. It’s one thing to enjoy meeting people through the Internet, to flirt and chat with virtual strangers. But when it begins to consume one’s life to the exclusion of everything else, it is a very real problem.
What would be the harm in it, you might think? It seems totally harmless on the face of it. But it isn’t so. Those who become addicted to Internet dating have no idea of the damage they are doing to themselves and those around them. It becomes a drug that enters their system and they have little or no control over it. Just like a drug addict craves his next fix, they cannot wait till they can get on the computer and log in to another session of online dating.
Internet usage and dating cuts into their sleep and they will make do with little or no rest, just to engage in cyber dating.
They sign up with dating sites, actively seeking encounters with strangers to get acquainted with. When they get favorable replies, they start chatting with several people, sometimes simultaneously. They may or may not meet them, but carry on dating one or more people at a time on the Internet. While they are doing so, they hide their profiles so that they are not available to anyone else.
By doing so, they use avoidance as a way of dealing with relationships. They simply withdraw and avoid dealing with problems which individuals in normal relationships encounter and face head-on. By using the Internet as a means of dating they hide themselves from reality and enjoy the anonymity that the Internet affords.
It is a form of escapism, especially if they already feel that they have enough to deal with in the real world. Cyber dating affords them the luxury of retreating into a make-believe world where they can avoid facing the harsh realities, and possibly even pretend to be someone they’re not.
If you find you are unable to have normal relationships and are relying on the Internet exclusively for companionship and love and as a substitute to having friends and relationships in the real world, you might be addicted to the Internet and using it as an escape route.
If you are committed to getting out of this self-destruction, try and get out more and meet people. Involve yourself with pursuits that will discourage spending too much time on the computer. Spend time talking to family and friends and don’t confine yourself to your room or cut yourself off from society. When you realize how much the real world has to offer, you will have the willpower to tear yourself away from the lure of the pretend world of cyber dating.