In her Jpost column Uncommon Sense, Geulah responded to readers’ letters.
I am 32 years old, married for five years and the mother of two. My husband and I are healthy and have satisfying professions and economic security. On the surface, we are “the couple who has everything”.
My husband is intelligent, sensitive, decent and good-looking. I must admit that, right from the start, I realized that I love him, but am not IN LOVE with him. I decided to marry him for three reasons: (a)I knew he would be a good husband and father; (b) at 27, I had begun to fear that I wouldn’t find anyone else of his calibre; and (c) I thought that maybe “falling in love”, in the way that I imagined, exists only in movies and novels, and that I ought to be more realistic.
About half a year ago, in an Internet forum, I “met” an enchanting man, and we exchanged email addresses. Since then, we have been corresponding on a daily basis. I am head-over-heels in love with him and think about him all the time. He is pressuring me to send him a photograph, to reveal my identity, and to meet. On the one hand, I don’t want to risk hurting my family; on the other, I don’t want to lose “the love of my life”.
— Torn in Half—
Forums, Facebook or email correspondence can be extremely intoxicating. During ordinary dates, we are influenced by a variety of impressions: appearance (fat/thin, tall/short, youthful/old, well-dressed/shabby, etc.), tone of voice, odors, behavior (punctuality, generosity/stinginess, eye contact, listening skills, body language, sense of humor, an the like). In addition, we are very conscious of the impact that we are making (or striving to make) in “real time”, and often be tense from this effort.
Compared to what transpires on dates, email contact has enormous advantages. Anonymity is very liberating. Each correspondent feels free to expose him/herself and see how the other reacts. Each party can invest as much or as little time as he/she wants in writing and editing letters (in other words, slips of tongue or pen, or spontaneous but embarrassing expressions can be prevented). And if one’s e-pal becomes boring, annoying or frightening, it is easy to break off contact. This secure setting provides fertile ground for the development of strong emotions.
However, these apparent advantages conceal grave risks. The freedom to expose oneself is also freedom to lie brazenly. The opportunity to compose letters at leisure gives talented writers the chance to create tapestries of eternal love and happiness, romantic illusions unsupported by commitment and uncorrected by daily events.
It is possible that your e-friend is a con artist or prankster who has found an easy mark, due to your yearning for deeper love. It is also possible that he, like you, is a sincere person caught in the thralls of virtual love. Either way, in 99.9% of cases, closer acquaintance restores realistic thinking and reveals that there is no point in continuing the relationship.
But don’t use that statistic as an excuse to set up a meeting! Divulging your identity and telephone number may expose you to harrassment and/or blackmail and/or the chance that your husband and others will discover your secret. These dangers are not worth the gain of dispelled illusions. Although this tempting but excruciating experience has focussed your attention on what your marriage lacks, it has also proven that you ARE capable of falling in love. This awareness can contribute to improving and deepening your relationship with your husband, on your own or with professional assistance.