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Do You Understand the Psychology of Online Relationships?,Understanding Online Relationships

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Consequently, we miss out on huge chunks of information about other people that we would normally have. Various studies have been carried out to explore how much of our communication is verbal as opposed to non verbal. The percentage splits have been different, but what is not disputed is that non verbal communication is a very important aspect of communication and the development of human relationships.

The major disadvantage of online relationships and communication is that there is no body language to read. This is a bit like trying to fix a car with only a hammer and one socket wrench! How effective can our online relationships really be with such a limited amount of tools at our disposal? Eye Contact and Touch Are So Important When Building Relationships. Even in the real world our perceptual equipment is far from perfect.

Just look at the static image on the right. It looks like it's moving, but it's not—the way the image has been designed tricks our eyes into seeing movement when there's none. When thinking about our online relationships and how "real" they are, we need to ask ourselves how much we trust the very limited perceptual information we have to go on.

Who's in front of the screen and who's behind it? Do we really know or has our perceptual equipment given us false information? Who are you on the internet? Are you "you"? Do you show all aspects of your character and personality or just parts of yourself? Even if you feel you show all of yourself, do others interpret what you present in the way you'd like them to or are there many misunderstandings about what you "mean" and "who you are"? Who are the people that we "talk" to online?

What can we really glean about someone from what they type? Who is looking back at you from your computer screen? Is it the person you are talking to or simply an aspect of yourself that's being reflected back at you? How can we tell the difference? To attempt to answer some of these questions let's have a look at some common issues in online relationships and the types of psychological behaviors and processes we use in our web based relationships with others.

In particular, I want to look at psychological defense mechanisms. We all have our favorite defense mechanisms that we use both on and offline, but from my experience the following ones are the defenses that we are most likely to use online. Notice that I include myself in this! Even after studying psychology, sociology and counseling for many years I'm certainly not immune to using defense mechanisms—I may just be slightly more aware when I have used one.

Simply put, projection is placing our unacceptable emotions onto someone else. The emotions, thoughts, or beliefs we project onto others tend to be ones that we deny we possess. Projection is slippery and can be very hard to see in ourselves unless we look really hard and are willing to be very honest with ourselves!

An example of projection would be denying to ourselves that we are attracted to someone outside of our relationship and then accusing our partner of being attracted to someone else. We see others carrying out the behavior instead of ourselves.

The faceless world of the web enables us to project our stuff onto others far more easily than in the real world and to "get away with it" more often, since there's rarely any challenge or consequence. In simple terms idealization and devaluation means having a strong tendency to see things and people in black and white terms—as either all good or all bad.

When idealizing someone, we are unable to see them as a whole person with both positive and negative qualities.

We only see the good parts. The opposite is true for devaluation—we only see the bad qualities that someone possesses even though in reality we all possess a mixture of both good and bad qualities. In "splitting", we might feel that we are intrinsically bad and others are intrinsically good or the other way round. This will express itself as someone "putting you on a pedestal" while constantly depreciating themselves.

In the reverse it will be expressed as having someone constantly give the impression of "looking down on you" and criticizing your every word—they feel that they are "good" and you are "bad". In the world of the internet it can be hard to challenge these kinds of interactions, since people often present themselves to us as "all good". Offline we'll soon find out if someone is as good as they present—we can see if their body language and actions match their words over time.

In our online relationships we don't have this ability, unless that person chooses to reveal their negative characteristics, they can easily hide them from our awareness from behind their computer screen.

Displacement is easy to explain and I'm sure you'll be able to recognize this defense mechanism quickly. Ever have a bad day at work and then find yourself shouting at the kids when you get home? This is displacement. Instead of being angry with whoever or whatever upset us at work, we displace it onto something or someone else, allowing us to discharge some of the emotion.

This happens a great deal in the online world. Just look into any forum to see how people let their emotions out on other forum members for the smallest things! Displacement can also occur with positive emotions. For instance someone who finds it difficult to be open and honest in their relationships in the "real world", may find they can displace their loving feelings onto their online friends.

There are many types of cognitive distortions which are all basically exaggerated thoughts or thinking styles. Here are a few distortions and some common online examples to go with them:.

A positive defence mechanism that being on the web often enhances, is sublimation. Sublimation is when we take our angst and difficult emotions and do something positive with them, such as write poetry, blog our worries away, create art or video or helping others through writing articles about difficulties we have overcome. The above are just a few examples of defence mechanisms that we all use in both our offline and online relationships, but it seems to me that the online world actually magnifies many of the defense mechanisms because unlike the real world, there are very few consequences for these behaviors and they mainly go unchallenged.

Maybe we don't challenge as much as we might do offline, because there often is such confusion about which feelings, thoughts and beliefs belong to whom? Whatever we think about our relationship experiences online, one thing is true—the emotions and reactions we experience in relation to online exchanges are ours and no-one elses.

Paid dating sites, and sites for people who are seeking partners with specific characteristics are popular with relatively large numbers of online daters:. Even today, the vast majority of Americans who are in a marriage, partnership, or other serious relationship say that they met their partner through offline—rather than online—means.

At the same time, the proportion of Americans who say that they met their current partner online has doubled in the last eight years. This question was asked of everyone in a marriage or other long-term partnership, including many whose relationships were initiated well before meeting online was an option.

Younger adults are also more likely than older ones to say that their relationship began online. In addition, people who have used online dating are significantly more likely to say that their relationship began online than are those who have never used online dating. Compared with when we conducted our first study of dating and relationships in , many more Americans are using online tools to check up on people they used to date, and to flirt with potential or current love interests:.

And while younger adults are also more likely than their elders to look up past flames online, this behavior is still relatively common among older cohorts. Today six out of every ten Americans use social networking sites SNS such as Facebook or Twitter, and these sites are often intertwined with the way they experience their past and present romantic relationships:. Younger adults are especially likely to live out their relationships through social networking sites.

These sites are also being used as a source of background research on potential romantic partners. As more and more Americans use social networking sites, these spaces can become the site of potential tension or awkwardness around relationships and dating.

Not surprisingly, young adults—who have near-universal rates of social networking site use and have spent the bulk of their dating lives in the social media era—are significantly more likely than older social media users to have experienced all three of these situations in the past.

And women are more likely than men to have blocked or unfriended someone who was flirting in a way that made them uncomfortable. The results in this report are based on data from telephone interviews conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International from April 17 to May 19, , among a sample of 2, adults, age 18 and older. Telephone interviews were conducted in English and Spanish by landline 1, and cell phone 1,, including without a landline phone.

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Susana has a background in Psychology and Counseling and a special interest in online relationships. This article will break down the psychology of online relationships. There's no question that more and more of us are spending huge portions of our time online. Being the social creatures that we are, we naturally develop online relationships in much the same way as we would offline. We may have gone out purposely to find the love of our lives on an online dating or chat website, or maybe we have developed a social network of friends quite by chance through our online interactions.

Whatever we are doing online and our reasons for doing it, it is inevitable that we will encounter difficulties, as well as positives in our online relationships. For anyone that has spent time online it becomes apparent that our online relationships can be sublime and they can also be very tricky.

But why? What kinds of differences can we see between relationships that are based purely in the online world in comparison to our relationships based mainly in the offline world? What types of online psychological behavior do we exhibit, and what does that tell us about our online relationships? Many of the dynamics we see in our online relationships can be explained very well by traditional psychological theory.

So explained in laymans terms, let's take a look at some of these aspects to help us understand our online relationships better and survive them intact. As well as some answers, you'll also see a lot of questions being posed here since there is still a great deal that is unanswered in terms of how the internet challenges our understanding of human interaction and how it affects our online relationships. Here's one definition of perception to think about, especially in relation to online relationships, online dating and perception:.

So perception is about sorting and processing the information that we receive through our 5 senses:. Can you see an immediate problem that we may encounter with our online relationships as opposed to our offline ones? Unlike the offline world where we use all 5 senses to gain information, when online we can only primarily use one sense to gain information with: sight.

We are also very limited in our use of our sense of sight, because we can't benefit from the normal cues we pick up through non-verbal communication.

We can see words that are typed, we can see someones avatar if they choose to post one and we can watch video or see someone through a webcam. If using a webcam or video we can also use our sense of hearing, but the majority of online communication is through words on a screen. We can't pick up each others pheromones, we can't communicate via our eyes, we can't communicate via gestures, intonation or tone of voice, we don't know how it feels to hug that person or give them a squeeze of the hand.

So clearly most of our perceptual equipment cannot be utilized in our online relationships. Consequently, we miss out on huge chunks of information about other people that we would normally have.

Various studies have been carried out to explore how much of our communication is verbal as opposed to non verbal. The percentage splits have been different, but what is not disputed is that non verbal communication is a very important aspect of communication and the development of human relationships. The major disadvantage of online relationships and communication is that there is no body language to read.

This is a bit like trying to fix a car with only a hammer and one socket wrench! How effective can our online relationships really be with such a limited amount of tools at our disposal? Eye Contact and Touch Are So Important When Building Relationships.

Even in the real world our perceptual equipment is far from perfect. Just look at the static image on the right. It looks like it's moving, but it's not—the way the image has been designed tricks our eyes into seeing movement when there's none.

When thinking about our online relationships and how "real" they are, we need to ask ourselves how much we trust the very limited perceptual information we have to go on. Who's in front of the screen and who's behind it?

Do we really know or has our perceptual equipment given us false information? Who are you on the internet? Are you "you"? Do you show all aspects of your character and personality or just parts of yourself? Even if you feel you show all of yourself, do others interpret what you present in the way you'd like them to or are there many misunderstandings about what you "mean" and "who you are"?

Who are the people that we "talk" to online? What can we really glean about someone from what they type? Who is looking back at you from your computer screen? Is it the person you are talking to or simply an aspect of yourself that's being reflected back at you? How can we tell the difference?

To attempt to answer some of these questions let's have a look at some common issues in online relationships and the types of psychological behaviors and processes we use in our web based relationships with others. In particular, I want to look at psychological defense mechanisms.

We all have our favorite defense mechanisms that we use both on and offline, but from my experience the following ones are the defenses that we are most likely to use online. Notice that I include myself in this! Even after studying psychology, sociology and counseling for many years I'm certainly not immune to using defense mechanisms—I may just be slightly more aware when I have used one.

Simply put, projection is placing our unacceptable emotions onto someone else. The emotions, thoughts, or beliefs we project onto others tend to be ones that we deny we possess. Projection is slippery and can be very hard to see in ourselves unless we look really hard and are willing to be very honest with ourselves! An example of projection would be denying to ourselves that we are attracted to someone outside of our relationship and then accusing our partner of being attracted to someone else.

We see others carrying out the behavior instead of ourselves. The faceless world of the web enables us to project our stuff onto others far more easily than in the real world and to "get away with it" more often, since there's rarely any challenge or consequence. In simple terms idealization and devaluation means having a strong tendency to see things and people in black and white terms—as either all good or all bad. When idealizing someone, we are unable to see them as a whole person with both positive and negative qualities.

We only see the good parts. The opposite is true for devaluation—we only see the bad qualities that someone possesses even though in reality we all possess a mixture of both good and bad qualities. In "splitting", we might feel that we are intrinsically bad and others are intrinsically good or the other way round. This will express itself as someone "putting you on a pedestal" while constantly depreciating themselves.

In the reverse it will be expressed as having someone constantly give the impression of "looking down on you" and criticizing your every word—they feel that they are "good" and you are "bad". In the world of the internet it can be hard to challenge these kinds of interactions, since people often present themselves to us as "all good".

Offline we'll soon find out if someone is as good as they present—we can see if their body language and actions match their words over time. In our online relationships we don't have this ability, unless that person chooses to reveal their negative characteristics, they can easily hide them from our awareness from behind their computer screen. Displacement is easy to explain and I'm sure you'll be able to recognize this defense mechanism quickly.

Ever have a bad day at work and then find yourself shouting at the kids when you get home? This is displacement. Instead of being angry with whoever or whatever upset us at work, we displace it onto something or someone else, allowing us to discharge some of the emotion.

This happens a great deal in the online world. Just look into any forum to see how people let their emotions out on other forum members for the smallest things! Displacement can also occur with positive emotions. For instance someone who finds it difficult to be open and honest in their relationships in the "real world", may find they can displace their loving feelings onto their online friends.

There are many types of cognitive distortions which are all basically exaggerated thoughts or thinking styles. Here are a few distortions and some common online examples to go with them:. A positive defence mechanism that being on the web often enhances, is sublimation.

Sublimation is when we take our angst and difficult emotions and do something positive with them, such as write poetry, blog our worries away, create art or video or helping others through writing articles about difficulties we have overcome. The above are just a few examples of defence mechanisms that we all use in both our offline and online relationships, but it seems to me that the online world actually magnifies many of the defense mechanisms because unlike the real world, there are very few consequences for these behaviors and they mainly go unchallenged.

Maybe we don't challenge as much as we might do offline, because there often is such confusion about which feelings, thoughts and beliefs belong to whom? Whatever we think about our relationship experiences online, one thing is true—the emotions and reactions we experience in relation to online exchanges are ours and no-one elses.

If we look honestly at what we're getting back from the screen, we can see that a great deal of it is a reflection of ourselves. What this means is that the problems that arise in our online communications are an extremely good pointer to our own difficulties, anxieties and distorted thinking patterns. Anyone that's spent more than a little time online will probably have had both positive and negative experiences of online relationships.

While the internet can certainly be liberating, allowing us to connect freely to a wider range of people and giving us the opportunity to give and receive information faster than ever before, it certainly has it's disadvantages as well as it's advantages when it comes to human relationships.

The following are some examples I came up with—you may have more. Reading back over this article I can see it may be coming across as quite negative, that's my perception—I may be wrong!

but that wasn't my aim at all. My aim in writing this was to help us all develop our awareness and understanding of the kinds of psychological hazards that we can experience in our online relationships, and through this awareness, either have a chance of averting problems before they arise or be able to see them for what they are afterwards.

How is our online perception different to, or the same as, "real world" perception? We use the same perceptual equipment both online and offline, but online we are extremely limited in which perceptual abilities we can utilize.

What types of psychological behavior do we exhibit in our online relationships? The same as the real world, but our behavior may be more concentrated online and there are far fewer consequences for it.

And what kinds of differences can we see between relationships that are based purely in the online world in comparison to our relationships based mainly in the offline world? There seems to be a lot more room for confusion in the online world and because we can only show parts of ourselves and others can only see a part of the part that we show, the internet has the potential to turn us into caricatures of ourselves. Physical Intimacy. Attracting a Mate. Date Ideas. Online Dating. Personality Type.

Online Dating & Relationships,The Psychology of Internet Relationships

AdReal Singles. No Games No Gimmicks! Meaningful Relationships Start Here. Start Living and Meet Amazing 40+ Men. Isn't it Time to Embrace Your Moment? AdJoin for Free & Find the Perfect Match in Minutes. Sign Up Now. The New Dating Site Everyone's Talking About! Try For Free Now AdMeet & Date Beautiful Korean Ladies Looking For Love Online. Join Now & View Your Matches AdCompare Big Range of Dating Sites Today. Find Your Perfect Match Online Now!  · The online dating site launched in and has weathered the changing trends in digital dating to become one of the most successful dating platforms in the AdJoin Millions of Americans Finding Love Online With Our Top 5 Dating Site ! See Why Singles Love These Dating Sites. Find Something Serious Or Casual. Start Today!Seen by Daily · Millions of Real Users · Local Romance · Marriage-Minded ... read more

By Michelle Liew Sep 13, Comment. Consequently, we miss out on huge chunks of information about other people that we would normally have. See More. This is a bit like trying to fix a car with only a hammer and one socket wrench! A positive defence mechanism that being on the web often enhances, is sublimation. Can you see an immediate problem that we may encounter with our online relationships as opposed to our offline ones?

How effective can our online relationships really be with such a limited amount of tools at our disposal? This is displacement. Maybe we don't challenge as much as we might do offline, online dating relationships, because there often is such confusion about which feelings, thoughts and beliefs belong to whom? Reading back over this article I can see it may be coming across as quite negative, that's my perception—I may be wrong! Who is looking back at online dating relationships from your computer screen? Just look into any forum to see how people let their emotions out on other forum members for the smallest things!

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