I am 20 years old and am dating a nice boy. I think we will eventually get engaged. But I have been involved in an online emotional relationship with another frum boy for the past three years. We’ve never met in person, but we chat on Facebook a bunch of times throughout the day. That is how we originally met. We also speak on the phone and text a lot.
This boy I chat with knows everything about my life. I share everything with him. When I told him that I might be getting engaged to someone, he got upset and said that we should meet finally in person. When I asked him why, he answered that we both need it for closure.
The reason we didn’t ever go out in the first place and chatted instead was that we were not right for each other hashkafically.
I don’t know what to do now. I’m very curious about him. I know what he looks like because I saw his picture, but I’ve always wondered about him. Do you think I need to meet him for closure? What if I decide that I like him? I know that we can never get involved. No one knows anything about this whole mess.
By Baila Sebrow
Social media have become the dark side of our times. For all the fun that Facebook and other forms of chatting have enabled in our society, never before has there been so much irresponsible behavior as today. The misuse of social media by moral and law-abiding people has evolved into reckless behavior. The nature of these communications media creates an atmosphere where all personal boundaries are comfortably removed. People reveal to absolute strangers intimate information about themselves, parents, siblings, spouses, and children. Facebook has been the cause of many lives’ being destroyed, and the frum community has not been immune to its effects.
Those who use social media in a negative manner are continually suffering shameful destruction in their personal and professional relationships. As a result of their obsessive passion, Facebook fanatics have reported broken relationships, lost job opportunities, and even having ruined the lives of their loved ones.
The way people portray themselves on Facebook is rarely authentic. You can pretend to be anyone you want, as can the person you are chatting with. The photos you are viewing in someone’s Facebook album are oftentimes fake, too. You can think that you are chatting with a boy your own age and be viewing pictures that appear to be the person you are exchanging sentiments with, but the sick reality is that this person may be much older, married, or even a dangerous predator.
You carried on a three-year intense relationship with someone you never met. For whatever reason there may have been, hashkafah or otherwise, you both decided to not meet each other in person. Instead, you occupied yourselves with a fantasy relationship that could never be.
This is not a romantic predicament that you are in. This guy, whom you cannot decide whether to meet just once to see if there is the possibility of having a future with him, is not just some guy you have feelings for. Do you realize that the object of your Facebook fascination has in all probability been associating in the same way with tens, if not hundreds, of girls such as yourself? Do you really believe yourself to be his one and only? I regret to inform you that you have most likely fallen prey to a troublemaker.
With the mixed emotions going through your head right now, you naturally cannot think of this guy as possibly a liar or a predator. Exchanging emotional sentiments with someone you have developed a serious connection to is not to be taken lightly. Therefore, in order for you to go on with your life, as in considering marriage with the boy you are dating, you will have to take immediate action.
The reason he is urging you to meet him for what he claims to be closure is his way of manipulating your emotions. This guy does not want to lose you and what he has with you. He knows you well enough to realize that you are sensitive. Agreeing to meet him will be a grave mistake, even if you decide on a public area. Historically, the way these things play out is that he will not show up where you can see him. He will keep himself out of your sight while observing you intently. He will likely communicate with you by text while informing you that he is watching you. He will in all probability feign shyness and profess feeling that he cannot measure up to you as an excuse for remaining unseen. This type of scenario has happened over and over to girls like you. The eventual outcomes of such situations vary—and you must avoid ever finding out.
I urge you to speak to someone other than a friend your own age. You must immediately take your story and report it to someone you trust who is also non-judgmental. I also feel that your parents should be informed, as no one can be sure if this will somehow be brought into the public light.
In the meantime, cool down your relationship with this Facebook boyfriend. Do not end it abruptly, as he might be angered and threaten to expose you. It seems that he has much personal information about you. That said, you can be sure that if he feels angered, this guy will have no qualms in using all that he knows—matters that you have no doubt poured your heart out to him about—against you in a very public way. Be very cautious as you let this relationship slow down and wither. If the person you reach out to assist you can somehow find out who this guy truly is, that would put your curiosity at ease. But if his identity is never verified, as it might not, then let it be.
With regard to the guy you are seriously dating for marriage, my advice is for you to mention that when you were 17 years old, a guy started chatting with you on Facebook and has been contacting you ever since. Assure him that it is under control and being taken care of. Continue this normal relationship and allow it to flourish in a healthy way, leading to your engagement and marriage.
Baila Sebrow is president of Neshoma Advocates, communications and recruitment liaison for Sovri-Beth Israel, executive director of Teach Our Children, and a shadchanis. She can be reached at Bsebrow@aol.com. v
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