Did meeting someone you knew online change your relationship

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Did meeting someone you knew online change your relationship

Postby existential_elevator » Sun Apr 27, 2008 9:40 pm UTC

In total, I've now met 4 people I've primarily known online.

Each time I've had a different experience, and its had a different affect on my relationship with them. Some of them I met first time in crowded public places that were mutual, some I actually just went to their house. In at least one case our relationship was strengthened after having met, but in most other cases a meet highlighted a tension, and it caused our relationship to drift apart.

In each instance with the people I've met, I had known them for between 3 and 6 years before meeting them. Some of them I now meet on a regular basis, with some of them it is unlikely we'll meet again.

I was wondering what kinds of experiences people here had after meeting friends from online. What kind of impact did it have on your relationship? I'm not necessarily talking about romantic liaisons, but mainly about friendships.

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Re: Did meeting someone you knew online change your relationship

Postby michaelandjimi » Mon Apr 28, 2008 12:45 am UTC

I have met 4 people online as well. However, as of this post I have only met one of them in the flesh.
It was rather like meeting a person for the first time, only I already knew a whole heap about them. I have a feeling it would have progressed like an ordinary friendship had we lived closer geographically. However, it has stagnated due to lack of physical interaction.

I'm not really much help.

EDIT: Wow, I got topic-moved-ninja'd. I'm skeptical about its relocation here because the OP specifically said it didn't have to be romantic.
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Re: Did meeting someone you knew online change your relationship

Postby Sandry » Mon Apr 28, 2008 1:04 am UTC

Since 2001, I have met more than a hundred folks whom I knew online first. The first one I ever met is now my housemate of a year and a half, and she is pure, undiluted awesome. I met her only about four or six months after I first started talking with her online, but I felt we knew each other decently well by then - I'd spend a couple of those months stuck in Utah, and so spent a lot of time communicating via IRC, rather than trying to play "Dodge the Mormons!" on the streets while looking for libraries that had anything interesting in them.

I find that generally people face to face are much like they are online. It's not that I've never been surprised, but I've never had my perception turn a 180, or anything like it. It's more like meeting them clarifies who they are - if I liked them online, I never found that I'd meet them in person and cease to like them - I usually just had more good, colourful memories to add to their persona. I think the only exception to this was having moved in with someone in Chicago whom I should not have. To be fair, though, she hadn't been a close friend beforehand (and certainly is not one after the fact), and that was specifically a "I hated living with you, and that's so coloured my impressions of you that I no longer want to talk to you." I could easily see having made the same mistake with someone I had known primarily in real life as a "not sharing your feelings, but more having a good time together" type friend.

I think the thing that most impacts how close a friendship I keep with folks after I meet them is actually if we're anywhere near each other. When I lived in DC, I had one set of friends whom I had met from online, only one of whom was really close, but all of whom I saw fairly regularly. When I moved to Chicago, I had a different set of closer friends, and then moving again to Boston, same thing. ...yes, I am a shallow friendwhore, apparently. /: It's not that I don't keep in touch at all with the DC crowd, but they're at such a remove to my life at this point, that there's a total lack of immediacy and commonality my local friends have. The point, though. Finding folks with common interests, humour, etc. in any well-populated place has never been a problem, and keeping a close friendship with someone you can actually see on a weekly basis is way easier.

Meeting folks has never highlighted a tension, to me, as you mention. I feel that some of them I find to be unexpectedly more awesome than I was hoping for, and some are a little disappointing - knowing them from forum posting alone, in particular, skews communication, in that it's a thought-out, somewhat long-form type of communication. I have met some folks who turned out to not be anywhere near as talkative in real life as they are on boards. Mostly, though, I've met folks I'd already spoken with via IRC or IM clients, and they merely confirmed their excellence.

The only thing that I find to consistently blur impressions of meeting internet people face to face is convention type atmospheres. It's hard to get a very good assessment of what people are like when they're on twenty four hour a day hyped up mode with a large chance of sleep deprivation tossed in. :) Also, generally you're meeting so many at once, half are folks you didn't know that well in the first place. The XKCD meetup last summer definitely qualified here.
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Re: Did meeting someone you knew online change your relationship

Postby parkaboy » Mon Apr 28, 2008 4:11 am UTC

I'd say so. A new friendship coupled with a mutual nervous crush just crashed down into complete awesomeness and a rush of feelings we didnt really know were there.

Romantic stories aside, I've met a LOT of people from the internet. Most of the time it hasn't really changed anything but I can't really recall any BAD experiences resulting from a meet up.
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Re: Did meeting someone you knew online change your relationship

Postby Robin S » Mon Apr 28, 2008 6:03 am UTC

I know this probably isn't quite what this thread was intended for, but - I met up with a girl I'd had an 8-9 month online relationship with, shortly after breaking up with her and starting to see someone I could meet physically. We ended up doing things we shouldn't have done, which did change our relationship in certain ways. It's now over two and a half years later, and we've remained friends but don't talk as often as we used to. I'm still not sure how much of that was to do with breaking up and how much was to do with meeting up, since the two events took place close together.

I have also met a few individuals from these here fora, and it's hard to explain clearly the difference that I felt, but I guess it brought it home that they were real people with whom I was interacting with online. I'm aware of that in a theoretical sense already, of course, and by all means there are some lovely people here, but I think meeting up in person does make a significant difference to the way you see someone, even though it won't change things completely (usually).
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Re: Did meeting someone you knew online change your relationship

Postby existential_elevator » Mon Apr 28, 2008 7:47 am UTC

michaelandjimi wrote:EDIT: Wow, I got topic-moved-ninja'd. I'm skeptical about its relocation here because the OP specifically said it didn't have to be romantic.


Yeah, I'm vaguely annoyed, I didn't really want it to be in a place where I'd end up getting lots of "online dating" responses [no offence], and was far more interested to see if people had any friendships that were either adversely affected or radically altered in any way. Can't I get upgraded to "general" at least? Or broaden the OP to include psychological affects, or something?

I also wondered if any of those people might be able to give me tips on how to make an altered friendship less awkward afterwards.
In one case where I met someone, we just didn't really "click" in real life the same way we did online. I spent the day following her round shops, looking for her [she kept vanishing] and making awkward conversation with her petrified-looking friend who clearly thought I was an axe murderer. I couldn't even pin her down 10 minutes to talk alone. After that our friendship really petered out, and now we're not really in touch any more. I maybe send an email every year or so.
In another case, a meet highlighted some sexual tension that I don't think either of us had noticed was there previously, and it caused a fair bit of argumentation. The difficult thing is burying stuff like that, especially when you got on so well in the flesh disregarding anything of that nature.

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Re: Did meeting someone you knew online change your relationship

Postby Mother Superior » Mon Apr 28, 2008 3:35 pm UTC

In another case, a meet highlighted some sexual tension that I don't think either of us had noticed was there previously, and it caused a fair bit of argumentation.


You sure you didn't lead this person on in any way or give him any "signals" that would've made him think something was on?
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Re: Did meeting someone you knew online change your relationship

Postby wst » Mon Apr 28, 2008 7:59 pm UTC

Sandry wrote: I have met some folks who turned out to not be anywhere near as talkative in real life as they are on boards.

That's basically me. It is much easier, for some reason. It's just a phase, I don't really trust people until I've met them and know them IRL for a while, so I treat people I met IRL from the internet as total strangers, maybe with a bit of common interest.
But when I get going, I'm alright :D People just expect me to trust them immediately when I've spoken to them a lot on 'tinternets.
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Re: Did meeting someone you knew online change your relationship

Postby gmalivuk » Mon Apr 28, 2008 9:05 pm UTC

existential_elevator wrote:Yeah, I'm vaguely annoyed, I didn't really want it to be in a place where I'd end up getting lots of "online dating" responses [no offence], and was far more interested to see if people had any friendships that were either adversely affected or radically altered in any way. Can't I get upgraded to "general" at least?

That seems reasonable. While LSR does have "relationship" in the title, just like this thread, I agree that discussion in there will probably center around dating, and there's already a thread or two about online dating. So here you go, a thread in General. (I agree with whoever moved it before that it wasn't really SB material, though.)
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Re: Did meeting someone you knew online change your relationship

Postby 22/7 » Mon Apr 28, 2008 9:14 pm UTC

aetherson's the only person I've ever met IRL whom (I think whom?) I met online first. I don't think our relationship has changed any. You may have to ask him, though.
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Re: Did meeting someone you knew online change your relationship

Postby vqcg » Mon Apr 28, 2008 9:24 pm UTC

I've met a few people IRL I was already in contact with through the net. I was never particularly internet-close with these people before hand, just interacting with them fairly publicly on fora, not late-night-talking-about-everything-through-IM or anything of that sort.
With most of them, it seems like I have an 'online' mode and an 'offline' mode, and it's hard for me to connect the two 'versions' of these people in my head - almost like I have two seperate relationships with these people. But then, I find that I do the same thing with people I know IRL but often talk to on IM, too.
With a couple of them, meeting IRL brought us closer. One I barely knew online but now we communicate more often online and I'm meeting her again in meatspace next month. :) :)
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Re: Did meeting someone you knew online change your relationship

Postby Lycur » Mon Apr 28, 2008 9:25 pm UTC

I met a number of people I played WoW with, back when I did that. I can't say it measurably changed my relationship with any of them. In every case it wasn't just myself and one other person though, the least we ever had was a gathering of four; that may affect things. Those meetups were a ridiculous amount of fun though, all the good bits of trying new things and discovering stuff about people you never knew all that well with none of the nasty awkwardness.

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Re: Did meeting someone you knew online change your relationship

Postby DuSTman » Mon Apr 28, 2008 11:59 pm UTC

I've met a few people in real life that I met on the 'net, and I have to admit that it did change the relationship..

...mainly because I killed them all.

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Re: Did meeting someone you knew online change your relationship

Postby Angelene » Tue Apr 29, 2008 1:35 am UTC

Quite a few people, actually...I developed a rather good friendship from one, a couple of more casual friends, and an intimate relationship from a few others...then there were one or two instances where the relationship suffered irrevocably from entering reality...one where I don't think I fit into the preconceived notions of me, and the other where we wanted different things from the meet-up. I think folk deserve a chance in reality...it's not fair to expect anyone to instantly attain the comfort to which you're accustomed online, it takes a wee while to get back to that level, but if everyone is true to themselves in all media then there shouldn't be any huge discrepancies, I don't think.
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Re: Did meeting someone you knew online change your relationship

Postby sethicus » Tue Apr 29, 2008 2:23 am UTC

I've met a few. One ended up in a failed relationship. Another is an even stronger friendship (she told her soon to be husband that if I wasn't invited to the wedding, they weren't getting married). Then there are the ones that didn't really change anything.
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Re: Did meeting someone you knew online change your relationship

Postby DesperatMezures » Tue Apr 29, 2008 8:41 pm UTC

I sadly haven't had the experience of meeting somebody in meatspace after getting to know them online. I think it'd be really interesting, but still living with my parents makes it a bit difficult. I hope it changes by the time I get to college, though.
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Re: Did meeting someone you knew online change your relationship

Postby cypherspace » Tue Apr 29, 2008 8:52 pm UTC

I've met about 50 people that I originally knew online. It gives you a better understanding of their personality, and you can read their posts/messages better afterwards. Sometimes that means you realise they're actually a dick, and sometimes you realise they're not a dick, and sometimes they're exactly the same online as they are in real life. People understand my humour much more after meeting me, as I can come off very dry and sarcastic online - and I am - but in person I'm so good-humoured and full of smiles they realise I don't mean any of it maliciously.

I've met many of my best friends through a forum and developed connections from there. I think it was rather different to most forums as it was specifically a local one, so you saw other posters on the street, and talked regularly. That's not quite the same as a forum where 99% of your interactions are text and you only meet once a year or something.
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Re: Did meeting someone you knew online change your relationship

Postby thecommabandit » Tue Apr 29, 2008 9:24 pm UTC

I've met a guy I knew online before. We didn't actually know each other that well, mainly a friend of mine who plays this game (yes, it was a game) introduced me to him. Nothing really happened much online. We chatted a bit, but my lack of ability to make friends quickly showed itself.
It was a completely different story when we met in person. He came to my city and a bunch of my friends (along with the friend mentioned above) came with us. It took a while for the... shock, for lack of a better word, of meeting to wear off at which point we clicked together very well. We became very close in a matter of hours, which is incredibly unusual for me. I mean, I don't talk to him a whole lot online at the moment, nor did I do it a huge amount before but there appears to be a chemistry or mutual understanding between us that didn't come across at all online.

Plus, he's an awesome guy.
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Re: Did meeting someone you knew online change your relationship

Postby existential_elevator » Tue May 06, 2008 6:58 am UTC

vqcg wrote:With most of them, it seems like I have an 'online' mode and an 'offline' mode, and it's hard for me to connect the two 'versions' of these people in my head - almost like I have two seperate relationships with these people. But then, I find that I do the same thing with people I know IRL but often talk to on IM, too.


I have this problem too, but only with some people. One of my friends is pretty much the same both on and offline; she talks in the same way, and about the same things, and she really is a little chatterbox. But with other people I really have found that connection hard to make at times, especially on a first meetup.

But yeah, this is really cool, it seems like most people have had positive experiences

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Re: Did meeting someone you knew online change your relationship

Postby Endless Mike » Tue May 06, 2008 1:52 pm UTC

I've met a lot, mostly in largish meets, but a few in smaller things. I can't say anyone I met in the larger things have really changed anything good or bad. As for the smaller ones, I've made a couple good friends, and one drinking buddy (calling him an actual friend would be a stretch, as much fun as he is to hang out with). I had a date with a girl I met on a dating site which apparently went very quickly bad, since she immediately blocked me on AIM and deleted her profile. So, uh, I guess that didn't work. *shrug*

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Re: Did meeting someone you knew online change your relationship

Postby Pirate.Bondage » Tue May 06, 2008 6:20 pm UTC

Yes. I talked to a kid who was my age for about 3 years before he and his family decided to come up from Georgia, all the way to Maine, and visit during the summer.

I had so much fun with him and definitely got a lot closer with him.
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Re: Did meeting someone you knew online change your relationship

Postby Nyarlathotep » Wed May 07, 2008 12:50 am UTC

I've met a few, in situations ranging from "We hung out and had lunch" to "shared a room at an anime convention"

It really, really varies. One guy I got into a kinda not quite relationship with, which exploded later on due to my lack of ability to deal with relationships (That and all he wanted was in my pants. Haha, no.) Haven't really talked since then. Another has turned into a vaguely irritating stalker who can't quite seem to get that I don't like hanging out with him that much, but unfortunately he and I work on a project over les interwebs so I can't just disappear into the woodwork to get rid of him. Another group... well, we pretty much were in each other's faces 24/7 for four days straight and didn't kill each other, so I'd say it was a success. Actually, given how well I resonate with them, we've considered becoming business partners, and the possibility of me moving in with 'em for the short term should my travels take me out their way.

In short, people on the internet are like people in real life. Sometimes you click; sometimes you get idiot stalkers. *shrugs*
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Re: Did meeting someone you knew online change your relationship

Postby Moo » Wed May 07, 2008 6:48 am UTC

Met Keo this weekend, which was awesome.

We'd not just talked a lot on IM but webcammed a few times too and started a webcomic together so I felt like I knew exactly who to expect. Not that exciting a story I'm afraid, since he did turn out exactly as lovely as I expected and it was awesome and I don't think anything has changed.

You'd have to ask him if he feels the same :)

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Re: Did meeting someone you knew online change your relationship

Postby Mother Superior » Wed May 07, 2008 8:20 am UTC

Only person from online I've met irl is EE. I daresay it went rather well. 8)

It wasn't nearly as awkward as I'd expected it to be, neither. She was just as cool as I'd expected. But jesus wept, I didn't know people could be that short in real life.
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Re: Did meeting someone you knew online change your relationship

Postby existential_elevator » Wed May 07, 2008 8:46 am UTC

Mother Superior wrote:Only person from online I've met irl is EE. I daresay it went rather well. 8)

It wasn't nearly as awkward as I'd expected it to be, neither. She was just as cool as I'd expected. But jesus wept, I didn't know people could be that short in real life.


I warned you, you know!

...Actually, if I'm being honest, ours was the best of the meet-ups that I've had [okay, it would have been better without someone-or-other tagging along, but whatever].
The first meet I had [with Nate, a good 4 years ago] we completely failed to identify eachother, and barely spoke the entire day. She kept disappearing into shops without warning :s I kept turning round like "where the hell is she now?"
With Tom, my parents spent a lot of their time harassing him - which, to his credit, he handled really well - but we didn't get left alone five minutes to talk. Which led to a lot of awkwardness.
With Jaime, well, it was okay, but it surreally meant spending the day at her house with her mother watching talk-shows.
So yeah, we nailed it really, MS. Worth every god-damned kronar. Especially to see you get all embarrassed about swearing in Swedish in a public place ;)

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Re: Did meeting someone you knew online change your relationship

Postby Mother Superior » Wed May 07, 2008 9:15 am UTC

existential_elevator wrote: Worth every god-damned kronar. Especially to see you get all embarrassed about swearing in Swedish in a public place ;)

I stand by what I said, and I was.
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Re: Did meeting someone you knew online change your relationship

Postby SomeoneElse » Thu May 08, 2008 11:59 pm UTC

I've met a few people i've known online. In most cases, i'd known them for years beforehand. Meeting people in the flesh is always kinda awkward, as people's internet personalities are usually different to their RL personalities. I wouldn't have said that any time i've met someone online its changed the relationship for the worse, only for the better if anything.

There are people i've known for over 5 years, still keep in touch with and meet up with now and again. We get on just as well IRL as on the interwebs.

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Re: Did meeting someone you knew online change your relationship

Postby Clem » Mon May 12, 2008 12:11 pm UTC

I've met 3 people online. With all 3 people, it dramatically changed the relationship we had. I spoke to all 3 people a great deal and felt friendly with them all online. With 2 of them, on meeting them it became apparent that we were definitely more appropriate "online" friends and after meeting them IRL, we largely stopped talking to each other, one of whom I've completely lost touch with. I guess it was because there was an element of mystery when talking online and after meeting each other that mystery disappeared. It's sad because we had a lot in common and got on well, and meeting each other... We still had a lot in common, we were just embarrassed from meeting each other and it not going better, in my opinion.

However, with the third person I met online IRL... we're celebrating our 5th anniversary together later this year :D
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Re: Did meeting someone you knew online change your relationship

Postby Artemisia » Mon May 12, 2008 2:59 pm UTC

cypherspace wrote:I've met about 50 people that I originally knew online. It gives you a better understanding of their personality, and you can read their posts/messages better afterwards. Sometimes that means you realise they're actually a dick, and sometimes you realise they're not a dick, and sometimes they're exactly the same online as they are in real life. People understand my humour much more after meeting me, as I can come off very dry and sarcastic online - and I am - but in person I'm so good-humoured and full of smiles they realise I don't mean any of it maliciously.

That. I don't know how many meetings I've had but it's quite a few, and all of them were fairly to very very very positive.

I have taken some risks location-wise (I ended up in a little place near Rotterdam one time, after half an hour bus drive, but I felt fairly safe because another online friend whom I'd met earlier had met the girls I was meeting the day before, and assured me all was well. However, without that knowledge I might not have done it.

I've got some weird stories about how I met certain friends tho :D but that's for another thread I guess.
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