Online Relationship Intrusion: Don’t Be a Victim

online-frustrationOnline relationship intrusion: The act of internet-based relationships affecting a person’s offline. Often causing frustration, negative thoughts, and unreasonable fixation.

Ah, the internet. Information, entertainment, and people, at a few clicks of a mouse. Such a great resource, and one some people have come to rely on, possibly to an extreme degree. Who ever would have suspected that what makes the internet so enjoyable could also cause it to be the reason some people end their internet sessions not feeling refreshed, but upset and let down.

Many people who are or have been disappointed in their online relationships believe they are alone in their frustration. After all, it’s just the internet, no one else takes it so seriously, right? Online relationship intrusion is more common than you might think.

It seems that online relationship intrusion more easily happens to those who spend much time on the internet and those who lack strong boundaries. Both groups allow their online, interactive lives to merge with their offline, real lives. Some create intimate relationships with those they know online, or interact with people from their offline lives in their online world. Others allow their negative interactions on the internet as reflecting the reality of the world outside of the WWW. However, the medium of the offline and online worlds are different, and so are the people in it. When mixed together, they can create a more complicated and complicating combination.

Online relationship intrusion is more common with some people, but anyone who interacts with others online is susceptible to it. Every time you find yourself irritated, sad, mad, or otherwise strongly moved by something or someone online you are inviting online relationship intrusion. Don’t dismiss the effects of this: intrusion can bring real-life negative effects, affecting how you feel about yourself, your mood, and your overall happiness in life.

So what can you do to stop or at least decrease online relationship intrusion? Being one who has experienced online relationship frustration and works online, I’ve developed actionable steps that work for me, and I believe could work for others as well:

  • Do not merge online and offline lives. Keep them separate, whenever possible.
  • Limit your time on the internet. The less time you spend online, the less chance you have to become frustrated by what happens in it.
  • If you find yourself feeling frustrated, take a break. It’s okay.
  • Recognize that you have the ability to quickly and painlessly end any online interactions that are no longer working for you.
  • Repeat to yourself “This is not reality”. This helps to keep your situation in perspective.
  • Do not frustrate yourself further by continuing online discussion that is stressing you out — press the x in the corner, never looking back.

Have you experienced online relationship intrusion? How did you deal with it? Do you have any other tips?

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14 thoughts on “Online Relationship Intrusion: Don’t Be a Victim

  1. 😦

    I get it, fun while it lasted. Well maybe not the latest weeks. But it has been a good distracion when I’ve been bored. I find something else to do when I’m idle.

  2. ^Hmmm?

    This is not about you. At all, actually. None of the posts are about commenters here.

    You can form online relationships, as we do here, but I think it’s pretty important to keep some sort of perspective on them. For your own good/well-being.

  3. To be honest, I’ve never had overly negative experiences with people online. In fact, my Internet communication and relationship with people is better than my “real life” one. This is why I sometimes invest a lot of myself into Internet and I get emotionally attached not just to people, but to Internet-only happenings (such as Tumbrl and blogs).

  4. I’ve never been a victim of online relationship intrusion, though, I met someone over 4 years ago and we have been conversing via email for years and we never met(face2face) and I’m not planning to meet him but we became friends and I’ve shared most intimate/personal(but not telephone numbers or street info or work etc) details about me, more than some people in my real life…..

    He has, however, shown romantic interest but I never took him seriously because it wouldn’t be real for me…

    I don’t get too attached in reality nor on the net…

    I guess people are different in this world, others get attached to quickly and don’t know when to draw a line between too much and extreme…

    Internet can be dangerous just like everything else. My advice would be, “embrace your realistic reality than the virtual reality” I’m grateful of my life, it may not be perfect and a bit bumpy but I enjoy it and appreciate my life the way it is……..

    “Fantasy is what we want but reality is what we need” – Ms. Lauryn Hill

  5. Mira,

    “To be honest, I’ve never had overly negative experiences with people online.”

    That’s good to hear. Just keep on guard.

    “This is why I sometimes invest a lot of myself into Internet and I get emotionally attached not just to people, but to Internet-only happenings (such as Tumbrl and blogs).”

    Hmmm, I don’t know about this one.

    Of course I love all of you here and would very much miss you if you ever left, but I still realize you all are mostly internet entities, and probably will always just be that. I wouldn’t get too emotionally attached, because that’s just setting myself up for disappointment. I mean, what if my laptop died one day and I couldn’t get to you? 🙂

  6. mkhululie,

    4 years is a long time. But it sounds like you have good boundaries. I wouldn’t give out too much personal info, though that’s just me.

  7. Without going into detail, yes I have and it was a few years ago. I’ve grown up and matured, learning finally that you can’t go outside of your relationship by starting a new one. The real problem is self. You have to ask yourself why you are looking for such an outlet? I’ve worked hard at creating a life outside of the Internet by limiting the time I spend on blogs and guarding myself from “getting to know” people on the Internet. Between my kids’ extracurricular activities, work and now expecting my third child, I don’t have the time or desire to chase intangible things. I’ve grown up, owned up to my own issues and stopped looking to over people and things to “fix me”. We can be our own problem, but we can also be our own solution and I’ve learned to find my own way. Happiness really is a choice. Thanks for this post !!

  8. Congrats on the baby, madamesiamese!

    I guess… I don’t know. I find Internet fun and it’s easier for me to communicate with people that way. (In a written form). Is that a crime?

    Sure, I’ve faced some disappointments on the Internet (mainly concerning the fact people leave without an explanation or when they make it clear they don’t consider their online friends real friends), but that’s nothing compared to stuff that happened to me in real life. Plus, isn’t it better to talk to someone online when you have a need to talk to someone than not to talk to anybody because real life people find you too socially awkward.

    And there’s more. Thanks to the Internet, I’ve met many interesting people all over the world. I love traveling, and since I can’t afford it at the moment, this is a great way to meet people from other cultures.

    I guess the problem is when you get attached so much you’re unable to function without your online friends. That is a problem. But I don’t think Internet relationships are any less real in nature than the offine ones, though they could be a bit different in dynamics.

  9. madamesiamese,

    You’re welcome. Glad you figured out what does and doesn’t work for you. It’s true, sometimes you have to know yourself and know when it’s becoming too much and limit things.

    Another child? Congrats! I know you must be really excited. How far along are you?

  10. @Alee Thanks!! Due in November– maybe my birthday, the 13th. Every due date docs have given me, they were two or three weeks off. Babies come when they are ready– mine certainly did– LOL
    @Mira I believe that everyone’s situation is different. At that point in my life, I was vulnerable, emotionally immature and needy. That’s a bad combination in addition to having the inability to understand or care about boundaries. I don’t condemn online relationships for anyone else, but as for me, within the context of my life and out of respect for my husband, and the preservation of my marriage, it’s very inappropriate.

  11. Mira,

    “I guess… I don’t know. I find Internet fun and it’s easier for me to communicate with people that way. (In a written form). Is that a crime?”

    It’s not a crime, you just don’t want to get too invested. It’s just like with offline relationships except there is that extra risk and fragility because of it’s digital-only existence.

    Of course anyone is free to dive headfirst into internet connections if they want, but I’m just saying I think it’s better to balance things out and understand when you’re losing perspective, for your own sake. I speak from experience.

    “Thanks to the Internet, I’ve met many interesting people all over the world.”

    That’s one good side of it.

    “I guess the problem is when you get attached so much you’re unable to function without your online friends.”

    Before even that occurs, if your moods are being greatly affected by your online companions or what’s happening online, it’s time to take a step back.

    “But I don’t think Internet relationships are any less real in nature than the offine ones, though they could be a bit different in dynamics.”

    Internet relationships are real in that they can affect you emotionally and mentally and you can form real attachments and feelings over the internet. But they are not real in the physical sense.

  12. Ok, just for the record, when we say “relationship”, we mean on any kind of a relationship (such as friendship). NOT romance only? Because I’m sure not seeking romance online or offline. I’m married.

    Most of the people I communicate online are heterosexual women. Just like in real life.

  13. ^Lol, yes. Any kind of relationship. It doesn’t have to be a romantic relationship.

    madamesiamese, here’s to hoping the baby is born on your birthday! That would be awesome.

  14. Congratulations Madamesiamese! Nov. 13 is my anniversary, and Nov. 15 is my birthday! Either day sounds good to me!

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