When is a relationship real?

The amount of turmoil surrounding my friends* lately has really made me question the nature of relationships. Not the relationships you have with your children, I’m talking about every other type though – connections with friends, spouses and lovers. Being a commitment phobic, semi recluse, obviously I’m a bit clueless so – I’m asking you – when is a relationship real?

I’ve seen love  – the type you ostensibly marry for (if you’re allowed to) disappear in the blink of an eye to be replaced, not by hate, its close cousin, but by indifference even repulsion. I’ve seen friendships morph into an awkward type of unrequited love, a comfortable arrangement turn into a “what was I thinking?” quick walk away and casual friendships turn into lasting bonds.  I am, perplexed. For anyone with answers I would like to ask you – when did you know your relationship with (friend, lover or enemy) was real? When did you know that it wasn’t?

I understand that respect, camaraderie shared experiences and shared beliefs can all play a part – but we have these things in common with total or near total strangers, what I’m asking is – when  – what  – where and how does a connection become real? When is it a relationship worth sustaining no matter what? Is there such a thing?

I guess this new (to me) online connection medium (internet) has made relationships of any distance possible, but are these real? Are they different from the ones you have in 3D? How are they different? The same? Better? Harder?

I’m a bit gun shy I suppose about forming new relationships with friends in any medium – online or 3D, but mostly 3D. Sure I will go through the motions – maybe (usually never) say I love you out loud (out loud is the key), plan my life with you in it (rarely), but I am forever waiting for the other shoe to drop, for you to realize – meh, not much here – moving on. I never truly trust that the connections are here to stay. For whatever the relationship – unless we are tied by that “bond” of genetic similarity, I’m rarely ever sure if a relationship is real.

So I ask, with sincerity, when is a relationship real to you? What makes it real and how do you know?

*oddly enough, I’m not talking about you. I need 3 hands to count the number of 3D/other friends suffering from relationship troubles right now.  Also this isn’t about our relationship. You and I? We are solid. xo 🙂

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18 Responses to When is a relationship real?

  1. Mary says:

    I don’t have a clue, really. When I was much younger my favorite poet was Emily Dickinson. Back then I thought that when I grew up I wanted to be a recluse and leave deep in the woods away from everyone.

    • casoly says:

      🙂 When I was much younger I wanted to be part of the Ingalls family. Also not very people and no interwebs. Thanks for reading and commenting Mary! 🙂

  2. NJA says:

    I think anytime you have a relationship with communication of any kind (3d or electronic or snail) that it’s “real” just maybe not deep or abiding. Depth of affection is hard to gauge, but if the person makes an effort, that I think is the measure. I don’t think one can ever know things with certainty about other people’s feelings, but when they take action to support/show care, that’s the key for me. If I’m the one doing all the work, it’s shallow and I shouldn’t bank on it. And I don’t think there’s any guarantee or sign of lasting power – one just has to do the best they can. That’s what this cynical paranoid hermit thinks 🙂

  3. Becky says:

    I think all connections are real, but…we’re talking about real relationships. Hmmm… I think it is about caring about the other person and thinking about them. There are times throughout my day that I hear or see something and I remember it or bookmark it because I have someone I want to share it with — so that’s real. I also have people in my life that I truly forget they are around until they jump up in my face and yell “I’m here!” That’s maybe not such a good sign of a real relationship. I think it absolutely is real when you know you’ll be back to that place of connection again — maybe a short time away or maybe a long time away. if you spend time thinking, “oh, hey .. let’s talk it’s been a while” or “I can’t wait to share this with (whoever)” — I think those are definitely real relationships — of course I’m assuming they’re reciprocal. That’s a whole different post!
    Oh… by the way I have something I can’t wait to share with you (see? Real. 😉 )

  4. Lydia says:

    What Becky said. 🙂

  5. orangecountygal says:

    All relationships are real or as real as you feel they are. We interact with people all day whether through social media, texting, e-mailing, face-to-face and I even hear that some people use this thing of sending letters and cards by putting stamps on. Some new thing, maybe it will catch on!

    On Twitter I can easily strike up a conversation, easily have that interesting interaction that could become more. I’m also this anonymous avatar who few have met. I’d like to think I’m pretty much the same both in real life and on Twitter but really I’m much more outgoing on Twitter. I am much more reserved in real life and don’t feel I can say half the things I do!

    This one Twitter follower who I met in person asked me why I won’t reveal myself. He was rather perturbed about it and was rather insistent that I shouldn’t hide myself. I think he thought I wasn’t being real about things because I was hiding. As in real life, though one shouldn’t have to hide themselves, but some of us do. Maybe then this relationship wasn’t real to him.

    On the flip side though, I’ve actually met a few of my followers. Some I’d consider my friends now. One in particular who lives on the other side of the country is now one of my closest friends. Until I met this person, hadn’t even spoken to each other and all communication was in 140 characters! But I could tell, we both could tell that this was going to be good thing. It was a basic gut feeling yet I was so so scared. This was something real to me but it meant even more when we met in person. And now I have this terrific friend who I feel I’ve known forever!

    And to reiterate, what Becky said!

    • casoly says:

      Thanks for reading and commenting! Great response, I think I’m quite a bit like you – in that I’m much more social and outgoing on Twitter than in real life. Well I’m pretty talkative in person, but hate crowds, more than 4 people and I tune out. I think being here and being honest about your likes, dislikes and opinions should be mandatory, though I’m finding out slowly – that this is not always the case with everyone I meet online. I don’t think you need to share everything about yourself out here, in order to have a connection, but I think you need to share more than just the superficial. I think though that the relationship has to be reciprocal in order to be real, but then – how do you know how others feel? Well I guess I’m looking for an answer where maybe there isn’t one – or at least not one universal answer. I am hoping to meet some of my Twitter friends one of these days, I’m glad it worked out for you and your friend, I’m thinking that it worked because you are basically the same person online and in person. I’m glad we have connected on Twitter. How else would I have known about food trucks?! :o) xo

  6. orangecountygal says:

    Food & music can bring people together!

    I was reminded by my very good friend that was something out of character for both of us. It was a bit of a leap of faith. Something neither of us would normally do.

    And yeah you may not know how the other feels. Rather then ask, I put it out how I felt. I wasn’t exactly expecting anything back. And on days like this. On days when you should tell those you care about how you feel, put it out there. We can all be gone tomorrow.

    I have had it go horribly wrong at least for me. Left me even more gun shy. But it also showed me that I am human. I can feel. I sometimes worry that I can’t. I can’t make that human connection.

    You know, I don’t have a thing about crowds. I think that was due to me working at Disneyland. I learned very easily how not to see the people. It was almost like walking through the park and they were just obstacles! But I do relate better to people, one-on-one. Much more personal. Much more real!

    • casoly says:

      Perfect. Thank you! Yes I worry too that I cannot make a human connection sometimes, but I guess, I think you are right in putting yourself out here and expressing your emotions, if they are genuine, but to not expect anything in return. It is the ultimate gift to someone, a piece of yourself, without expectation or reciprocation. Love that. Thanks again for commenting! xo

  7. Dani H says:

    Today’s technology allows instant communication between people all over the world. Miraculous when you really think about it. I have felt instant “connections” with people I’ve met IRL and on the internet. Others I’ve come to know more gradually. On the one hand I feel that a relationship is real when I truly care about someone, but how can it be real if both people don’t care? How can we be sure how they feel IRL or on the internet? Recently I’ve learned the hard lesson that some people are not being honest about who they are in the virtual worlds. I feel that I am more “me” on the internet. I think the biggest reason is because I have time to think about what I really want to say and how to say it. In person I freeze a lot. (Though there can be confusion and misunderstandings on the internet, too, because we can’t hear the tone of voice being used or see the body language along with the words.)

    I am different in person because I am shy and hesitant to speak because it takes me awhile to process my thoughts. But in person, I have the ability to accurately read a person in the first meeting. I’m right 99 times out of 100. I feel that tone of voice, facial expressions and body language are a HUGE factor in communicating, both in helping us to understand the other person’s meaning and judging if we feel they are being sincere. We also can more easily determine a person’s intentions based on their actions rather than just their words. All of this is either difficult or impossible to do online.

    All of that said, I do feel that I have “real” friends on the internet. It is sometimes difficult to know both on the internet and in person if the other person feels the same way about you. Isn’t every relationship taking a risk of being hurt? Opening one’s heart cannot be done at the same time as protecting it.

    I will say definitively that I don’t think you can have a romantic relationship on the internet. Too many opportunities for misunderstandings. Too much longing for touch ~ even just holding hands. Too easy to be deceptive, especially when a man (and I think many do even IRL) thinks that withholding information is not being deceitful because he’s not actually “lying” ~ I feel it’s dishonest either way and that no relationship built on dishonesty can last.

    Quite honestly, until coming on twitter at the end of last year, I had built a wall around myself so big that it could be seen from the space station. No one but immediate family had been allowed near me in over twenty years. Recently, didn’t someone we both know tell me in a comment on someone else’s blog ” Sweetie, I think you are brave, you have been hurt sure, but you express yourself and wear your heart on your sleeve …” As painful as my taking the wall down has been, it’s worth it for friends like you, sweet Caroline. ❤

    • casoly says:

      Oh Dani, perfectly said. I agree with everything and yes someone did say that, and meant it. I so agree about communication – that this medium as wonderful as it is, will never equal the value or richness of in person communication – the touch, the body language and the tone of what is being said. It is interesting how so many of my friends here online are similar in our supposed awkwardness in person, and our ability or inability to be ourselves in 3D as easily as we can be here. We must all gravitate towards each other, knowing instinctively that we are similar. :o) Although I do have to say, and I am sure it is true for you, when you are comfortable with someone in person – you are just as you in 3D as you are you here, it just takes a little more work to be comfortable with people in person. Thank you so much for reading and for your insightful comments. xoxo :o)

      • Dani H says:

        I am SO glad you are blogging, Caroline. This was a really timely and interesting topic.

        You’re right, it usually takes me more time to become comfortable with people in person. But I think I do communicate better in writing because my brain processes things too slowly to put it into normal speech. Now, if you’re willing to wait 30 minutes between sentences…..

        First paragraph, I meant “On the one hand I feel that a relationship is real when I truly care about someone, but how can it be real UNLESS both people care?” (Need to proofread better.)

        Have a fantabulous week, sweetheart. *Big Squishy Hugs* ❤

  8. orangecountygal says:

    So do you think you got your answer to your question? It was such a great topic! All great comments. Love the sharing too! It’s a start of a nice relationship, something pretty real don’t you think?

    I do want to interject about caring for the other but should both care. These are the fan relationships or the relationships with a business’s. I have lots of communication from food trucks, restaurants, some with those doing podcasts I listen to and lately from my local radio station. Do they care about me? Do we have a real relationship?

    Well one food truck in particular I have their phone number. They’ve called me to see how I was. A few know me by name. But others only when I visit them or tweet about them so clearly it’s more of a business relationship. I’m sure that these businesses want to keep my business and they also want me to tweet to my other followers.

    I have met a few foodie friends from these food trucks. So as result, I’ve developed some very real relationships. Maybe one day, I’ll meet one of you!

    • casoly says:

      I think I’ve gotten closer to the answer, but I don’t think there is one answer really, do you? Yes – start of a nice relationship :o) I hope to eventually meet any twitter friends in 3D, only one I’ve met, is the one who introduced me to Twitter. Ah – one of these days. I agree with you that a business relationship are different, and not necessarily bad for sure. Also – acquaintances. I mean we can’t fully connect with everyone we meet right? My brain would personally explode – too much contact. But those relationships are good too, necessary even. So maybe I did get my answer. Hmm. Thank you so much for being here and conversing, so nice to talk without character restrictions. :o)

  9. orangecountygal says:

    No, there isn’t really one answer. Every person’s definition of a relationship is different.

    I do find that my relationships are a bit different between those I started on-line verses those that weren’t. Some of this may have to do with all my current non-online relationships are with people who are not on Twitter. Most don’t understand it. But I have felt I really get to know more from a person, have more interaction, and dare I say, more of a relationship with those on Twitter then those who are not. Something to be said about conveying a thought in 140-characters!

    Yeah, I don’t really want to meet everybody I connect with. And I find that some of my interactions are with people I don’t have a whole lot in common but it’s enough to converse on Twitter. I often wonder how I got all these Red Sox followers, a few of #theteamthatshallnotbenamed, and alot of conservatives when I’m not so much.

    I think I need the character limit! I get a little diarrhea as you can see. And maybe one day, I can sit with you at the end of that pier! lol

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