How Does Your Partner View Your Virtual Friends?

Virtual friends: How do they stack up in the pecking order of friendships?  Are they real?  This is a topic that has probably been discussed a thousand times on Xanga but I don’t know if we’ve ever discussed what our partners, spouses, boyfriends/girlfriends think about it.  This comes to mind because I recently had a conversation with another Xangan and this person’s significant other is very uncomfortable with the idea of this person having these virtual friends with whom details of his or her life is shared.

I’ll be the first to admit, back in 1997 I dated a guy who liked to spend time on ICQ, the first internet-wide instant messaging service, and I was perplexed and somewhat dismissive of the “friends” he claimed to have made online.  When he moved to Los Angeles I had the opportunity to meet one of them, and he and his partner did seem to be genuinely nice people.  Still, I was suspicious of how well you could really know someone with whom you only interacted in a chat environment.  This, of course, was before blogs really started.


When I started blogging five years ago, I did it just to keep family and friends informed of my experiences moving to Thailand.  The idea of making new friends through the blog never crossed my mind.  Over time, though, I did start making online friends and eventually had the opportunity to meet several people in person.  Initially, they were friends of people I already knew in real life.  Then, they were people who were traveling in Bangkok so we would meet for coffee or a meal or I would be visiting somewhere and would make the time to meet them. 

I even traveled a few hundred miles out of my way two summers ago to visit the famous Dr. Zakiah and her family.  When I was flying on the prop plane from St. Louis up to Quincy, the thought crossed my mind, “Her family must think she’s nuts, inviting some guy flying all the way from Bangkok to stay in her house!”  But if they did think those thoughts, they kept them well hidden and were so wonderfully welcoming.

Over the years, Tawn has met many of these Xanga friends and he has found that they usually turn out to be warm, thoughtful, stable individuals.  Nobody longing to break up our marriage and tempt me away.  Nobody frightening.  Nobody trying too hard to insinuate themselves into our lives in an overly-familiar way.  So I’ve come to take for granted that he has no worries about my virtual friends and in fact has come to enjoy the company of many of them.

What about you and your partner, spouse, etc?  How does he or she view your virtual friendships?


Additional reading: entry on The Change Blog about building positive virtual friendships.


0 thoughts on “How Does Your Partner View Your Virtual Friends?

  1. From people that aren’t used to this I sense there is some hesitation about it, but generally the people I associate myself with are open-minded enough that it isn’t a big deal.

  2. Considering I’m dating a Xangan… I’m all for those types of friendships – and so is he! In fact, we jokingly say that this is the best way for us to meet people, because we’re very introverted by nature. We’re probably unique, considering that we use the same site and met via Xanga anyway, but … I have no doubt that we’re on the same wave length when it comes to this issue. I know he’s met other Xangans (and I have too, and will be meeting more when I go down to see him.) So… I suppose I’m blessed: I have someone who is 100% OK w/ “virtual friends”!

  3. When I watch the movie Julie & Julie, Julie Child had some extraordinary friends who were penpals where they communicate with each other via SNAIL MAIL. Are penpal friendships real? How will people who are geographically close by that we can often meet and see each other view our more distant and less physically available friends (like that of penpals or internet friends)?I think that is the question instead of which medium we are using.

  4. @Passionflwr86 – Okay, you take the cake, Meg.  Dating a Xangan pretty much short-circuits any potential concerns about developing virtual friendships, doesn’t it?@FoliageDecay – I knew it!  You do so well typing for not having opposable thumbs.@Roadlesstaken – Especially considering that you’ve probably met more fellow Xangans than anyone else on Xanga!@Dezinerdreams – @NightCometh – Which gets to the issue of whether they are “virtual friends” or just “friends”, period.  Once you remove the distinction, the question becomes moot.@choyshinglin – Agreed that we need the human contact, virtual or otherwise.@Senlin – You said “y’all”?  Aren’t you a California boy?  =D@Fatcat723 – So let’s rephrase the question: “How would you deal with a partner who felt uncomfortable about the online friendships you had built?” @Wangium – @Wangium – You and your fear of judgment!  =D  I think it comes not from the idea that they are creeps but from the question, “How can you know someone and really be friends with them if you’ve never met?”  Of course, I have a good answer for that in the form of the many friendships I’ve made.  @ZenPaper – Evan has a good answer for the question, too, by pointing out the example of Julia Child’s penpal relationship (with hand-written letters and postal correspondence) with a woman she did not end up meeting in person for several years, even though they were the best of friends.@yang1815 – You definitely break the fourth wall!  =P

  5. I have not met anyone from Xanga. Maybe because most of the people I read here on a regular basis are so far away. I have met a lot of people though from a local parenting forum that I frequent. Perhaps we  do have more of a common ground coming mainly from the same place and also because it is a special interest group, there are things that pull us together. Some of these friends that I met have become really close friends and I introduce them to my husband and my kids and we have all become family friends. I am open to virtual friendships because of my experience with the parenting forum and hence I know that not everyone we meet on the net are psychos or stalkers. But of course, common sense prevails.

  6. I have dragged my husband, reluctantly, to meet xangans. He has to admit they are fun people and now looks forward to meeting them! hehe I am so very glad we went to the xanga meet up at Zakiah’s – I got to meet her, MacPhoto, Harpos_Mark, Saadia, and gargantuangirl. So much fun!! And also met saintvi, seedsower, the 44thHour, and probably a dozen more. I am looking forward to eventually meeting more of my friends. My husband isn’t threatened by any of the men on xanga (at least I hope he isn’t!).

  7. Chris, my eyes got misty when I read your post. M was always somewhat hesitant about the internet friendships. But I used to email some of your blogs to him and so when you decided you would honor us with your visit, he was most excited. Saadia and Dave were very upset that they couldn’t spend more time with you, and remarked what a fine gentleman you are! They hope that you will come back and then my entire family could be at the dinner table with you as the chief guest.I think not every visit or every person we meet will give us the same amount of pleasure. There has to be a good balance of social and personal charisma I think to feel that special vibe. Every time I see/ meet a xangan, my check them out against your finesse. You are that special! A perfect 10. In June when some of the other xangans came over, it was such a wonderfully blessed event. I loved meeting each one of them, and M did too. I don’t think he will ever be as comfortable with anyone as he was with you though. He thought you were A OK!

  8. @Ro_ad808 – @Passionflwr86 – Why do I feel like it might be easy to get caught in the middle of your answers to this question!?  =D@ZSA_MD – Oh, gosh – that’s such a wonderful thing for you to write.  Can Tawn and I just adopt your family and move to Quincy?@murisopsis – Well, we’re not a very threatening bunch, I guess… =(@icepearlz – Sometimes, the geographic distance can be a barrier, can’t it?  Especially if you’re on an island.  Ha ha…

  9. @christao408 – I guess to me, internet has been a form of communication for the most part of my life, just like phones. Therefore, there is nothing virtual, fake, or disconnect about it.And if my significant other has a problem with it, I’d try my best to show that there’s nothing weird about it.

  10. it’s the TRUST between the couples, because even on a daily life you may have a chance to meet ‘New Friends’ through different groups of friends, co-workers, clients, or even at a cafe, grocery store…? Internet is jsut another way of communication……

  11. I think we need sit and talk about it. I presume our relationship is based on Trust – Commitment – Caring – Communication – Compromise. It that is true to a good extend then we need talk and compromise to reach a solution.

  12. He does not have good things to say about many of them. The rest he is indifferent. Overall he does not understand how I can spend an hour or more every morning hang out here.

  13. My fiance doesn’t care if I talk to people online. He has a penpal in Colorado that we’ve met in person first but will not likely see very regularly again. He understands that sometimes the people you connect with the most are not in your physical proximity.

  14. Well actually Chris, don’t tell Tawn but I’ve been trying to lure you away from him since I started reading the blog….of course to be honest I think a lot of it has to do with the pictures of the goodies that I’ve seen coming out of your kitchen. :)Maybe you could become my personal chef! šŸ˜€

  15. @yang1815 – Andy, that’s the longest comment I’ve received from you in ages!  =D@agmhkg – That was pretty much the way Tawn described it, too.  There are plenty of people I would meet in every day life.  It is a matter of trusting your partner.@Fatcat723 – And that sounds like a recipe for a successful relationship, regardless of the issues being discussed.@brooklyn2028 – Plus, Felix is practically a Xanga celebrity, what with all the pictures we see of him!@amygwen – Gosh, I hope I’m earning my way into his good book.  =)@Promethea – You mean a honest-to-goodness pen pal, written letters and such?  I had one of those back in fifth or sixth grade, a gal in Hong Kong.  Only lasted about two exchanges of letters, sadly.@marc11864 – I knew it, Marc.  It is the food porn, isn’t it?

  16. @aznboy4p – That’s true.  I was thinking about this in regards to my 4- and 7-year old nieces.  By the time they graduate high school, “blogging”, “internet”, “cell phone” and “instant messanger” will all be ancient technologies, something they maybe have never even heard of!

  17. @ZSA_MD – Oh, they would be thrilled with that.  One of these days, once the immigration laws are reformed or same-sex marriage becomes legal nationally, we’ll look at returning.  Don’t know how I could live without these mangoes, though.

  18. I have never thought to as Bill what he thinks of my internet friends. I only have a few that I met thru wedding and baby message boards. I talk about them quite a bit as if they are my friends, and I have met a few of them in person. I wonder what he thinks of them…

  19. @alextebow – That would be an interesting conversation to have.@marc11864 – Well, who am I to judge?  =D@aznboy4p – I’ve had to take Blackberries away from friends at meals when they can’t pay attention to the conversation with me.  I’m fine sharing the spotlight with other people, but not with machines!

  20. yeah, you can’t be too careful nowadays. i guess when one has a partner, it’s always best to inform his/her partner that you would share details of your life online. my tip is never share too much. keep some personal details to yourself. that said, it’s a great way to vent all of your frustrations out. much like talking to a best friend. i guess it depends on individuals’ partner. but i think that as long as your partner knows WHAT you write, then it shouldn’t be a problem.

  21. Phil has never blogged before and I’ll admit that I kept my blogging tendencies hidden for awhile when we first began dating. Over time, I eventually told him that I blogged and had made friends through blogging and he seemed pretty accepting of it. He’s come to most of the Xanga meet ups that we’ve had in DC as well as to lunch with Zakiah and her grandson.

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