Is Internet Love the Real Thing?

Q: I'm 19 and I've been talking to a girl over the Internet for a couple of weeks now. Every time I talk to her my feelings for her get stronger and stronger. I think about her all the time, and when I do, I get really happy, like nothing could touch me. Is this love I feel or infatuation? -- Dale

Dr. Susan: Let me share a cautionary tale: a friend of ours, a little older than you but equally inexperienced, exchanged more than 200 e-mail messages with a woman. Online she was flirty, fun, and bright, and they had lots in common. When they finally got together, their hopes were way out of proportion to reality. Though he'd sent a photo, it turned out that she didn't like his looks. She was critical in person in a way that she wasn't by e-mail. He showed her a really good time (and spent a lot), but still she turned up her nose.

Of course, you imagine this could never happen to you. But until you meet in person and spend actual time - instead of virtual time -- with one another, you haven't a clue as to what this is. No, it's not love. Yes, it's infatuation. That doesn't mean it can't develop into love. Thinking about someone obsessively and feeling super confident are normal hallmarks of infatuation. Enjoy it, but don't sign on any dotted lines yet. Be sure your brain stays active, and not just your enthusiastic hormones, as you get to know one another better.

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