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The "Impossible" Romance

Anonymity and Honesty

The notion of anonymity intersects with relationship formation in many different ways. Let's walk through several of these. We've seen that most of these players were not specifically looking for romance online when they met their romantic partner. We've also noted that they typically live great distances from each other. Because players assume that they are talking to someone they will never meet F2F, the initial formative period can encourage honesty. After all, there is little incentive to lie to someone you don't know and assume will never meet.

I believe you get to learn more about a person's feelings when you meet them online, because it is easier to talk to someone whom you originally think you won't meet IRL, and thus won't be embarrassed to tell them secrets about you. [M, 23]

I think the internet makes it easier to be more open with people about your likes, dislikes, feelings etc because, most of the time, you know you're never going to meet them and so can be freer with information. [WoW, F, 36]

Others commented that it's easier to get to know someone precisely because of the anonymity - people are more open with each other.

In my case, because we were talking in chat, almost anonymously in a sense, I think it made it easier for us to get to know each other, because we could say things that might have been hard for slightly 'stiff-upper-lip' type people like us to express in real life. [WoW, M, 28]

Honesty was in fact an issue that many respondents brought up themselves. These players typically suggested extreme caution about taking what people say at face value. Nevertheless, when they then described their own experiences, most players noted the complete honesty that they and their partners exhibited prior to meeting F2F.

I don't think it's easier to get to know someone else online. Yes, it's easier to talk about difficult times in your past, and secrets you may have, since you're not as worried about what the other person thinks. If the other person rejects you for who you are, it doesn't hurt as much. You close the chat window, and move on. However, this makes it just as easy to lie, since there aren't really any consequences. Before I met him, I did worry a lot about if all that he told me was true. When I met him, there were no surprises, he and his family were exactly who they said they were. I didn't lie to him about anything, either. I think our case was one of the few lucky ones. [FlyFF, F, 21]

The main reason that our on-line relationship worked out so well is that we were completely honest with each other from the get-go. Whenever people ask me if I was worried that he wouldn't be who he said he was on-line, I reply, 'He told me he was 30, an accountant, and was losing his hair. I was pretty sure he wasn't lying!' [WoW, F, 30]

I think I was lucky that he was everything he said he was. I wasn't surprised at all. [EQ2, F, 49]

Another potential buffer to deception is the presence of other communication modalities that we mentioned earlier. It's much harder to lie to someone about physical appearances when they can see you on a webcam.

I didn't really have much of a surprise when I met him for the first time, I'd seen him in photos, through a webcam, and heard him on the phone for around 6 months straight prior to meeting him. [EQ, F, 34]

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Posted on August 29, 2006 | Comments (33) | TrackBack (0)

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