But it's also, sometimes, a little too private. When you're dating somebody in real life, you see them in all sorts of situations that can help you see who they really are...like when they're annoyed with a waiter, or driving their car in heavy traffic, or playing with their dog. But when you talk to somebody online, it's hard to develop that same instinct. All you know is what your Internet partner has told you.
Don't know if you really know your internet partner? Ask yourself a few important questions.
Have You Talked About the Big Stuff?
When you first start dating somebody, conversation can tend to stay on the light side. And sure, you know your Internet partner's favorite foods and favorite books...but do you know where they stand on the larger issues? Have you talked about religion, politics, family, and one another's pasts? Sometimes it's in the bigger issues that the truth about a person's nature can come out.
Have They Given You Details?
It's important to be careful when chatting with somebody on the internet. While most of the people you come across are legitimately decent people whose goals are the same as yours...there are still plenty of predators out there. So it makes sense to be cautious about giving out details about your life.
That said, there does come a point where you need to know details about each other. Has your partner told you about what kind of job they do, where they live, or how they grew up? Do you know the names of your partner's family members and closest friends, and what kind of people they are? If not, you might want to give some thought to why your partner is keeping you at arm's length.
Have You Had a Fight?
I think it's impossible to truly know a person without having fought --or at least argued-- with them a little. This tells you how they react to stress, and how they tend to treat people when they're angry. If you've never been in a fight with your internet partner, there may be some very important things about their nature and their personality that you don't know yet.
Have You Checked Them Out?
I should say it again: there are a lot of online predators out there. So, after your relationship has developed legs, so to speak, and you've started to get more serious about it, it should be time to check your partner out. You should know their full name, where they live, and whether the information your partner has given you about them checks out.
Even better, be sure to tell your Internet boyfriend or girlfriend that you're checking up on them. They should appreciate the fact that you respect yourself enough to play it safe. If the idea bothers your partner over much, a bright and shiny red flag should start waving in your head.