No time for a relationship? Try an ‘elationship’

Like most people, I’ve done the internet dating thing. And like most people, I’ve become completely enamored with some witty, charming soulmate I’ve never actually met.

One such character – Sal – lived in San Francisco. I can’t remember exactly why I started corresponding with him (aside from the usual hormonal stuff). Perhaps it was because his introductory note wasn’t rife with the usual misspellings and annoying emoticons. They make me so ; ( .   No, Sal was smart, well-read and incredibly persistent. Not a day went by that I didn’t get an email or IM or, as time went by, a phone call from him. At first, all the attention was flattering. He told me he adored me and couldn’t wait to meet (he even bought tickets for a weekend visit). He told me I was beautiful, sexy, and more important, smart. Sal touched my very soul — for about 10 minutes.

Then, as suddenly as I had become enthralled, I became annoyed. Who did he think he was barging into my life like this? I seethed. The guy was calling me every day, sometimes twice a day. I had no privacy, no life of my own. Sal’s confidence now reeked of arrogance; his constant attention was suffocating. I felt trapped, resentful; god help me, I felt married. The next time he called, I told him to back off (I think I said back, anyway) — which he did immediately. And within three days, I was miserable. Where had my witty charming guy gone? I wondered, staring at my silent phone, my empty inbox.  Eventually, I called him and we began anew – our virtual relationship following the same arc as any normal face-to-face relationship, up to and including the kiss-off three months later (via email, of course).

As I said, though, I’m hardly alone when it comes to these online relationships, or as I call them, “elationships.”  In fact, I just wrote a story for MSNBC.com (here’s the link) about the phenom, which has become more and more rampant with each new social media /online communication tool. Part of it, I think, has to do with our busy lives and the ease with which we can reach out to (or even juggle) hundreds of potential new mates. And part of it lies in the nature of the Internet, this odd place where we can all too comfortably spill our secrets and bare our souls. One woman I interviewed even carried on a year-long elationship (via email, text, tweet, IM, Facebook and phone) — with a man she never actually met.

Incredulous? Don’t be. Intimacy is easy via the Internet. After all, don’t you feel like we’ve grown closer these last few months?  

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8 Responses to “No time for a relationship? Try an ‘elationship’”


  1. 1 Erin February 11, 2010 at 3:28 pm

    Re: elationships…it is easy to not get burned. Make a few rules, and stick to them. Rule #1: only search in your own city for those online encounters you hope will become face to face encounters, love affairs, possible marriages, etc. Rule #2: resolve that any encounters beyond your own city will always remain ‘online only’/’electronic pen pal only’ things with people you will never meet face to face no matter how: good looking, soul mate-like, rich, etc they may seem online/over the phone. Rule #3: in your own city, check out the people you converse with online. Drive past their alleged home, and see if it matches what they say about it. Is it supposed to be a 6 room, two story, four bath, house…but actually turn out to be only a one bedroom apartment, or a vacant lot? Rule #4: “the third time’s a charm” applies to everything. If a person lies to you three times, stands you up three times-regardless of the supposed reason-fails to return your call/email three times, etc, the relationship ends…no fourth chance. Rule #5: in your own city, you WILL meet all seemingly suitable suitors-at least for a cup of coffee in public-within three weeks of your first email from/chat with them. If you haven’t met face to face within three weeks, they are probably a con artist, so you WILL cease communicating with them. Rule #6: anyone who contacts you more than twice a day without your encouraging them to do so is probably a psycho, and will be avoided. The nut who sends 15 emails in a single day, in response to the one you sent him/her, or who calls 12 times a day, or such, is probably dangerous. Rule #7: be prepared. Have an unseen friend sitting nearby when you meet an online contact in person. Have some pepper spray in your pocket. Take a camera equipped cell phone along on face to face meets, ask to see the date’s driver’s license/other photo ID, photograph it, and email the photo to someone you identify as “my cop pal who is a former college classmate.” Rule #8: keep the first few face to face meets with new contacts short, and sex-less, and do not give out your home phone, or address. Develope the relationship slowly,and make the meets longer, more romantic, sexual, etc, later on…as the situations seem to warrant. Follow these rules, and you will be safer, happier, more satisfied, and get conned less.

  2. 2 Rob February 12, 2010 at 12:19 am

    I found the article very interesting as was your story. Now I feel naive.

    I was on match, yahoo and date hookup which was the best for me. Unlike the article and your story, I did just the opposite and met just about every woman i met online.

    My ex of 20 years always kept me down.

    I am an extravert, have been told I am very handsome, with charisma and charm. I have been successful in business.

    When I got seperated, I truly had no idea as to what kind of relationship I wanted or needed.

    I felt compelled to meet women, lots and lots of women. In fact, after a year of 2 or 3 dates a week, I realized this was crazy. I still keep in contact with close women in my life, because although the relationship did not work one way, we still cared for each other and stay in touch.

    My story is about meeting someone on date hookup.

    We spoke for hours and finally I asked her to come from Texas to Wisconsin.
    The deal was if she got to Wisconsin and we did not click-no hard fellings and she coild go back home. Since October14, 2008she lived with me in WI until October of 2009 when we both moved to Texas.

    I found my soulmate on line and we are very happy.

  3. 3 Sam February 12, 2010 at 4:56 am

    Thanks for posting this! I’m having a bit of an e-lationship right now. Well, it just started, so it may be nothing. He’s about a 4 hour drive away, but we’re already planning to meet halfway for a night 2 weeks from now.

    So if we meet in person, is it still an e-lationship? Or is it then just your traditional long distance relationship?

  4. 4 steve February 13, 2010 at 11:58 am

    Nice story, Diane. And I’m glad I’m not having any elationships.

  5. 5 Onely March 13, 2010 at 9:32 am

    I seem to gravitate toward long-distance relationships, which I guess are a kind of e-lationship (with the difference that I’ve met the person in real life before). Maybe this is an unconscious attempt to preserve my independence and freedom while at the same time meeting the social “obligation” to have a relationship. Dunno. Great post though.
    = ) Christina

  6. 6 Tiia Jones April 23, 2010 at 1:29 pm

    This was a great take on e-lationships and so very true. I have written and thought about many of the same phenomena myself–especially eliminating profiles with spelling/grammar errors (I have made it my personal goal in life never to date anyone ever again who confuses your/you’re) and avoiding the hazards that come along with falling for someone in cyber space only to find there’s absolutely no connection in real life.

    It’s so easy to bare your soul to someone via the written word in ways you would never do face to face. Then you find out they have a snake in their closet or live with their mother (or both). And yet, at least online dating gives us an opportunity to find some common denominators and take control of the situation in ways we wouldn’t otherwise be able to. Thanks for a great post.

  7. 7 LoveintheDumps May 19, 2010 at 7:16 am

    Interesting post to say the least. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with an elationship (bloggers certainly have a lot of them), and in fact many times a relationship is better online than in person.

    When ya gonna update the blog single shot?? 🙂

  8. 8 Judy Powell June 3, 2010 at 5:43 am

    Interestnig angle. I have been trying out “elationships” model for several months. My strategy is to find a site that offer you to search by basic compatability criterias like interest or religion. Even if you can find many dating sites you can join for free, I hate wasting time “wading” through profiles of completely strangers to locate one that interest me. I prefer to know members in MY group have something in common. Thsi way I can skip the ones falling outside my comparability requirements. On mate-1.net I can access “grouped” profiles and start browsing local profiles of singles with the same background and/or interest as myself 🙂


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What’s the story?

Meet Diane Mapes, your friendly neighborhood freelance writer. My beats include health (with an emphasis on cancer prevention, treatment and survivorship) and lifestyle and singles issues, but I also love writing about history, natural history, pop culture and TV/film. On this site, you'll find links to stories, praise for my writing (*blush*) and the odd bit of social commentary about the single life. Also here, a few shameless plugs for my books (hint: see links below). Have fun, glad you're here and hope to hear from you soon.

Oh! And if you're looking for my breast cancer blog, go to Double_Whammied

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How to Date in a Post-Dating World A dating manual for the modern, mangled single.

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Single women speak out on life, love and the pursuit of happiness.

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