KELLY: Do you think it possible to love someone you have never met? Honestly, do you? My mom met some guy online, and they talk like every night. Yesterday, we were shopping and she was driving and he texted her and said something, then put, “I love you.” I couldn’t believe it. She’s never even met him. I told her that was ridiculous because she’s never even met him, and how does she know she loves him? She then told me that they have a plan to have him move out in like six months and come live with us. She thinks he’s perfect and that she will live happily ever after with him. Why she should even consider this when all she knows about him is from Facetiming and texting him. Am I the crazy one? I feel like the parent telling their kid not to date someone or get so serious so fast. How do I tell my mom she needs to meet this guy more than one time before she plans on moving him out to live with us. It’s more than her who is affected by this whole thing, but she’s being so selfish and thinks that this is her Mr. Right. I can’t imagine living with someone who I don’t even know. Its weird and I think it would be so awkward.
DEAR APRIL: Great points.
Let’s start with your first question, and it’s a tricky one. I think people can get to know someone well, share intimate feelings, develop solid communication skills, become attached and begin to form a relationship with someone who they have never met. You can care deeply about someone you have never met and the relationship can feel authentic and genuine. Love is a different thing, though.
It is easy to create an idealized person when you have never met them. We can create a virtual fantasy world when someone presents their best self and leaves you to fill in the blanks. Things like body language and physical intimacy play into relationships, and you can’t experience these things over the Internet. Being truly together for a good period of time, like in person, allows you to experience the person flaws and all. Yes, we have Skype and web cans, but it’s not the same. You can fall “in like,” but love involves more than a screen-based relationship.
Perhaps your mom was looking to meet someone and right now he matches all her criteria. But you are absolutely right, until they actually meet face to face and spend time together they won’t really know if this is love or just an emotional connection made strong by the words they have written to each other. Rushing into living with someone who you have never met could create struggles if you haven’t experienced them enough to know if you are compatible. Simple things like how clean they are or what their sleeping patterns are can cause arguments if they are not dealt with before living together.
It is possible to have a romantic relationship online and develop strong feelings for someone, but love is created over time together, walking through the day-to-day of life in person and seeing the person in their worst light or on their bad days. True love is built on knowing someone’s true self, not their digital profile or Internet self. Words put in emails and the way one talks on phone conversations can be entirely different than the person they are in real life.
Tell your mom you are happy she has found someone she thinks is special, but that you are uncomfortable with them talking about living together without either of you ever meeting him. Ask her to slow down on their plans because you need to feel safe and comfortable around him before any ideas of living together should happen. If he wants to move out here, he should find an apartment or home to rent so they can spend more time together in person and decide if they still feel the same after being together more regularly.
Avoid calling her selfish and calling her out on why you don’t agree with their relationship. Stick to the facts that apply to you – phrases like, “I need to feel safe in my home” or “Living with someone I don’t know feels weird.” You should have a say in your home if she invites a stranger in to live with you. The safety issue should be addressed. If mom pushes forward on this, ask to speak with a professional counselor, school counselor, pastor, friends parent or trusted family member. She needs to take her love goggles off long enough to hear what you feel.
The most important thing for you is to speak up about your safety and the need to be relaxed and comfortable in your home. If your mom doesn’t listen, find an adult to help make your point. You deserve to feel protected and secure, safe and secure.