Love and Friendships in the Modern World


Victor Pross

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Victor & Angie,

Congratulations! I am only now putting the pieces together. The two of you clearly have a spark between you that has captured your spirits in its magnetic pull. You are being led by a hope and passion for life's possibilities as you dive into this strange and wonderful attractor that can give birth to new order. I salute your dedication to the joy life can offer in the face of all the obstacles that can block your path. Do you know exactly where this path is going to lead? No. The not knowing is part of what causes the stirring of energy that charges your being when you fall in love but so is the belief in your judgement. It's a path you follow, not because you know where it leads, but because it looks and feels like it might lead to where your soul needs to go. Ride the emotional wave! Enjoy what you share! Discover each other! Observe what is created when your beings entwine. And jump headfirst into the adventure of life! You will be richer for it. Now is the time to be alive.

I am reminded of the intense energy that passed between my wife and I when we first started to fall in love. We first met in, of all places, an Abnormal Psychology class (some have said this is fitting). I remember sitting next to her, the material on our pants would occasionally touch, and mine and her entire beings were focussed on the energy and meaning of that touch. To know someone else can experience that energy and meaning reinforces my belief that we are all made of the same stuff, that we can all share in the beauty of life.

Are there other things to keep in mind? Yes, but it is not my place to tell two intelligent, self-responsible adults how to manage the complications of their relationships. Instead I will tell you I admire the heroic character that allows you both to expose your souls to all the possible dangers inherent in falling in love. Love is about trusting our judgement and exposing ourselves to the possibility of great pain for the chance of experiencing great passion, visibility, and a shared existence. When we are wrong, we get up, brush ourselves off, and try again. Never surrender your soul to fear and pain. The chance of love is a most noble purpose for people who value their own judgement, their own interests, and their own lives here on earth.

I wish you both all the best,

Paul

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The two of you clearly have a spark between you that has captured your spirits in its magnetic pull. You are being led by a hope and passion for life's possibilities as you dive into this strange and wonderful attractor that can give birth to new order.

Thank you, Paul. You express yourself very well--and I must say that this is the most heart-felt well wishing expressed for Angie and me that I have read to date. Again, thank you.

Right now, I am at a lost to find significant words that express all that I think and feel for Angie--which is both painful and joyful at the same time. It is painful because I want Angie to fully know what I see in her and what she means to me and it seems like it is so much more than I am able to express [and me an artist to boot] but it is also joyful because she IS all of those things I do see…and I am so happy to know that I can share in it.

Victor

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Paul,

Wow, thank you so very much. Yes, this is the best reception we've gotten and it truly touches me. I agree with Victor that you are very articulate. I have never met anyone like Victor before and I am truly lucky to have met him. He is my baby!

I also wanted to say that I just found out that a childhood friend of mine named Larry, friends for over 20 years, his wife had their first child. They also fell in love over the internet. They talked just as Victor and I have been doing. But they talked for quite a period of time before they actually met. Well, they finally met. They got married and they now have their first child. There are many couples out there that have fallen in love over the internet before meeting and have ultimately married and have had kids. There truly are no rules when it comes to love, just as Victor has stated. I wholeheartedly agree with this. It can happen at any time, anywhere, and can hit you when you're least expecting it.

Again, Paul, thank you very much for the warm and heart felt post. It truly means a lot to me.

Angie

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Angie and I have been exposed to a lot of sabotage attempts online and off, people trying to implant doubt and skepticism as to the viability of an internet spawned relationship. It has been characterized as “rationalism” and “over-the-top” and these are the more friendly descriptions. In the end, who cares how you come across another person: a club, a class room, introduced by friends, a dance class, wine testing party, a monster truck rally. Who cares! Plus, there is no way for them to really know how we feel for each other...so they simply cannot say.

There have also been people—online and off—who have attempted to discredit me as a person as they have also attempted to discredit Angie in my eyes. Some people have been rather subtle…coming at us with fake smiles and bogus well-wishing…others have been cruelly blatant. The names of these people shall remain nameless…to protect the guilty. They are horrible people who need to grow up and get a life. Angie and I are in love—deal with it. Envy and hatred is truly an ugly state of mind. They have damaged souls.

Having said that, I wish to extend a further big THANKS to those who are sincere—that would include MSK and Kat, Paul and Judith. There are others…and they know who they are. Thanks OL! You know, to my knowledge, nobody falls in love at SLOP. But there are a lot of cock fights, mind you. :ike:

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What a thing is determines what it does. Who a person is determines what he or she does. What a person says tells us more about who they are and how they view the world than it says about the nature of the world they are viewing. Right or wrong, we have to trust our own judgement, whether in matters of the mind or in matters of the heart. At the end of the day it is only our own judgement that we can understand deeply enough to evaluate its foundations. It is only our own judgement that we have the power to control and correct. Trusting your own judgement, following your own vision, and learning from your own mistakes is the path to wisdom and fulfillment, not supplanting your own judgement, vision, and learning with someone else's. Again, I say trust your own judgement, dive in headfirst, and explore life with passion and awareness. This is how to live a full life.

Paul

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Paul,

Your post is remarkable in what you say—given that Angie and I have jumped in with both heart and head. We are taking a “chance on love” by investing our hearts for the hopes of an exciting and rewarding romance and lifelong relationship—but we have done it wisely. Both of us asked the other hard and to-the-point questions and have made it a point to be clear and rational in our approach as to what each other wants in a relationship, to be on the same page. We want the same things, we have a very good understanding.

This has been a total integration of heart and head-- as they need not be separated leaving one to choose one over the other.

Victor

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Victor and Angie, I think it's a pity that you've felt you've had to defend anything about yourselves or your relationship at this point. Now is a time for joy. Life is short. Joy is precious. Let the dogs bark and immerse yourselves in each other.

Judith

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Judith,

Thank you. There are no arguments from me and I’m sure Angie will agree—but she can speak for herself. Let’s consider my irritation with the naysayers a momentary distraction and my focus has now returned to Angie, to enjoy a lifetime of what will be—is—a great romance. This will be an enduring love affair because both Angie and I are die-hard romantics—and rational ones at that. That is a wonderful combination.

We will make a great team. Just wait and see. :)

Victor

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Angie and Victor,

I've tardily caught up to there being a romance in process between the two of you. My best wishes and hopes that the in-person meeting confirms the accuracy of your expectations. (I have no reason to doubt the likelihood of the person-to-person meeting's working out, since from the sound of things you've both been "doing your homework" in regard to getting to know each other. Whether email relationships develop well in the flesh or not, I think depends on how attentive the two people are to the details of the clues they're picking up and how good they are at interpreting the clues. Two of my own best current friends are persons whom I first "met" on an email list. In both cases the realities of further acquaintance went as expected.)

Ellen

___

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I, too, have just discovered the Angie-Victor romance. I wish you both every happiness. Of course Internet romances can fail -- but so can romances between people who have known each other all their lives.

For what it's worth, and as someone much older than the two of you, let me tell you a favorite peeve of mine: the idea that one must "work" on relationships. It's true that when seriously divisive problems arise, its important to resolve them, and that takes a kind of work. But too many people take the life our of their relationships by constantly searching and analyzing the motives and psychology and "premises" of themselves and the person they love. Love is not psychotherapy. We don't always have to understand each other to the last infinitesimal degree; we need to let each other live and be who we are.

There's a funny and wise line from William Saroyan that I'm fond of: "We must love one another and try not to get excited."

Barbara

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> "We must love one another and try not to get excited." - William Saroyan

Barbara, that's funny. I love it...first good chuckle I've had since Wednesday. :)

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Hi Barbara,

Thank you for acknowledging Angie and me and your well-wishes. I most certainly agree with you that love is not “psychotherapy” and I feel sorry for other Objectivist couples that you may know who reduce their relationship to such a thing. What Angie and I mean by “working” on the relationship is what should be common practice for any couple—Objectivist or not, and that is this: not taking each other for granted—nurturing one another, listening and supporting your partner, being adventurous and creatively finding ways to make the relationship romantic and fun. That's just to give a few basic ideas, etc.

All of this—fun as it can be—requires “work” by some measure. There is certainly more effort being exerted here than what a single person is called upon to do. Anything worth maintaining and keeping alive requires work. So this is how the term was used and meant.

Again, thank you for posting here and wishing Angie and me much happiness. That’s precisely what we plan on doing. :)

Victor

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Victor: "What I Angie and mean by “working” on the relationship is that should common practice for any couple—Objectivist or not, and that is this: not taking each other for granted—nurturing one another, listening and supporting your partner, being adventurous and creatively finding to make the relationship romantic and fun, just to give a few basic ideas, etc."

You both made that clear. The "too many people" I referred to did not include you. The problem is that usually when one reads or hears about "working" on a relationship, it's presented as a dreary duty that seems predomiantly about listening to each other's endless complaints about everything imaginable. Your definition is quite different.

Barbara

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Thanks Jenna, very nice of you. Yes, you are right, there's not enough love in the world. So I thought it was about time I made my contribution, and Angie easily became the collector. Thankfully, she returned it.

The distance is a drag--but it's not going to stop us, because it's only measursed in miles, not feelings. :)

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Angie & Victor: I'm happy for you. Whatever the love, it should be celebrated, as there is (I think) not enough of it in the world. And I know somewhat of how your situation is like. All I can say is that distance is really a drag.

Thank you very much, Jenna. That was very sweet of you. I agree that there isn't enough of it in the world and it definitely should be celebrated. Yes, the distance is a definite drag. But that is a situation that will be taken care of very very soon. But again, thank you.

Angie

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I, too, have just discovered the Angie-Victor romance. I wish you both every happiness. Of course Internet romances can fail -- but so can romances between people who have known each other all their lives.

For what it's worth, and as someone much older than the two of you, let me tell you a favorite peeve of mine: the idea that one must "work" on relationships. It's true that when seriously divisive problems arise, its important to resolve them, and that takes a kind of work. But too many people take the life our of their relationships by constantly searching and analyzing the motives and psychology and "premises" of themselves and the person they love. Love is not psychotherapy. We don't always have to understand each other to the last infinitesimal degree; we need to let each other live and be who we are.

There's a funny and wise line from William Saroyan that I'm fond of: "We must love one another and try not to get excited."

Barbara

Hi, Barbara, thank you for the very kind words, the well wishing, and *your* advice as it is welcomed. I agree that love is not psychotherapy. And definitely, yes, that we each need to let each other live and be who we are as individuals. I wholeheartedly agree with this. I also agree that it does take work at times as you've noted and that conflicts should be resolved rather than those problems festering around for a period of time or ultimately never getting resolved. Communication is vital. Honesty is vital.

Barbara, thank you very much for taking the time to post to this thread, for the well wishing, and the advice you've offered.

Angie

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  • 2 weeks later...

I read Victor's article some time ago, but I've only now read the whole thread. The article bothered me at the time, but now that I've read the pursuing thread (including the shabby treatment Ciro got for his trouble) it bothers me even more.

What Victor is suggesting is that the composed, fully discretionary presentation of self we participate in online is a sufficient substitute for reality when making our strongest value judgements about other human beings. He implies that one can from pictures and the written word know who a person is in every meaningful respect. I find that deeply disturbing.

To me, reality is precious. It cannot be duplicated. And I naturally distrust anyone who would intend to replace or circumvent it. If someone were to confess that they were in love with me based upon our online correspondences, I would probably conclude that they were a little shallow. At the very least, they would be letting their enthusiasm for the small fraction of ourselves that we're able to share online get the better of them.

When we communicate online or even over the phone, we are afforded the opportunity to edit our personae constantly. And we do. I would assume a deep and introspective sense of self would take that for granted. You're simply not going to get to know somebody, really know them--know them enough to be in love with them--online.

Furthermore, there is enormous, near absolute safety in the distance afforded by the telephone or the internet. This safety allows us to express ourselves in ways we may not even realize we'd be too timid to express in person. How many face to face flame wars do you witness in your daily life, for instance?

Victor declared that no one can prove that he's not in love, but I would counter that Victor cannot prove that he is in love with Angie. The best he could prove is that he's in love with her online persona, with her photographic image or with her voice over the phone.

Proving love is a fool's gambit, anyway. I would contend that Angie is much, much more than her writings or her voice--much more than she herself even knows. And I would hope that anyone who wished to love her would keep that in mind always.

The first time we say "I love you" to another human being romantically is precious and unrepeatable. I can't imagine not sharing such intimate words face to face. To share them at such a comfortable, impersonal remove as the internet or telephone prescribe would cheapen the moment immeasurably in my view.

Nonetheless, people fall in love with fictional characters all the time. People fall in love with potential. Often, people's fantasies are symmetrical and they think they're falling in love with each other when really they're falling in love with mutually flattering fantasies. Even without the internet to forestall intimacy, people have been falling in love with illusions for as long as we humans have been able to dream and desire.

The young Ayn Rand herself fell in love with a man's image, a man who looked like one of her fictional heros come to life. She was disappointed. Later, she fell in love with a man's words and was so shocked by the reality of her lover that she banished him from her side forever.

I sometimes think the internet could be the worst possible thing that ever happened to the Objectivist movement (not always, but sometimes). The tendency among Objectivists to identify themselves with their minds and with their rational thoughts to the exclusion of all else finds its perfect expression in cyberspace. On the internet, talking your talk and actually walking that talk are indistinguishable. People can spend so much time here that they forget the difference.

Having said all this, my sincerest wish is that things work out between Victor and Angie. Love has survived many worse obstacles than the internet. After they finally have their first meeting, I can imagine Victor confessing to Angie, "I said that I was in love with you before, but I was wrong. I'm in love with you now." That's what I'd call romantic!

-Kevin

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Kevin,

I normally agree strongly with what you have to say, so I am surprised to be at odds with this post. I am not in fundamental disagreement with many of the things you said, but I am in total disagreement with the onesidedness of them.

Frankly, I wonder if OL posters are even your real audience--or if it is not a young person you know--one you would like to warn or give advice to.

I do believe that love encountered online needs to be treated with respect and tested, but I do not agree that it is impossible, as you postulate. You see, I encountered the deepest and most exciting love of my life online and Kat and I are well beyond a year and a half in love.

You stated a few things that I would like to comment on.

He implies that one can from pictures and the written word know who a person is in every meaningful respect. I find that deeply disturbing.

(sigh)

Why do people do this? I have not reread the thread, but did Victor actually use the word "every"? I remember the impression I got of the thread (and other posts) reading how excited Victor and Angie are at getting to meet face-to-face precisely so they can learn about some "meaningful respects" that are impossible by distance. And I don't just mean sex. I remember their enthusiasm and a certain defensiveness because of some tut-tut-tutters in their lives, not because they thought that distance communication was all there was to love on a fundamental level.

You're simply not going to get to know somebody, really know them--know them enough to be in love with them--online.

This is merely your opinion and it is totally wrong--at least for my life. It is possible to be in love online. I know because in my life, it happened. Now that Kat and I have met a few times, I can say that I love her with more intensity, but the root of the feeling is identical to when I knew her only online. And it was love--romantic love.

The first time we say "I love you" to another human being romantically is precious and unrepeatable. I can't imagine not sharing such intimate words face to face. To share them at such a comfortable, impersonal remove as the Internet or telephone prescribe would cheapen the moment immeasurably in my view.

There is a strong temptation to take this personally and say you are implying that my declaration of love to Kat (and hers to me) were "immeasurably cheapened" because they happened over communications devices and not face-to-face. But I don't want to fight about something like this. I will just say you are wrong. There was nothing cheap about it at all. It was pure magic and one of the happiest moments of my life.

After they finally have their first meeting, I can imagine Victor confessing to Angie, "I said that I was in love with you before, but I was wrong. I'm in love with you now." That's what I'd call romantic!

This implies that there is a difference in kind in what a person can feel at a distance with respect to what he feels face-to-face. As I mentioned, in my life, no such difference happened. There has only been a difference of intensity.

To be fair, I did have one long-distance relationship in the past where the person was not anything like she portrayed herself to be on the phone and in e-mails. That lasted a very short time after we finally met and was quite a disappointment. But on the other end, Kat and I joked more than a bit about whether I really would turn out to be an ax murderer or pedophile before we met. People around her were sure of it.

You find the Internet to be dangerous and impossible for love. To me it was liberating. I was able to interact with a woman who thought like I did and not be limited merely to women I could physically encounter. It increased my options enormously. Does anyone really think I fell in love with a woman who lived 1,000 miles away from me because I couldn't get a date with the women around me (and the same for Kat)? If they believe that, then they don't know me.

I agree that it is easier to misjudge people at a distance and I agree it is easier to be false at a distance. But it is perfectly normal to misjudge a person face-to-face and be false face-to-face. People do it all the time. So why is it not possible to fall in love at a distance?

I know it is possible. I did it. Kat did too.

Michael

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There is much to be said for Kevin's position -- and also for Michael's. And that isn't the contradiction it appears to be.

Yes, one can fall in love over the Internet -- but in love with whom? A great many people -- all of us to some extent -- pick up subtle cues from others, cues about how to please, what someone will respond to, what will drive him (or her) away, what he's seeking in a lover, and unconsciously present oneself accordingly. We can do this on the internet to an extent we are unlikely to successfully accomplish, or even want to accmplish, in person for any length of time. I'm not talking about deliberately lying, I'm talking about what aspects of oneself one chooses to focus attention upon. For instance, If you tend to be self-pitying, you're not going to whine about the unfairness of the universe to the person whose esteem you want to win; if you tend to be improperly self-absorbed, you won't trot that out for the other's perusal; if you envy those who are better looking or wealthier than you, that will remain unstated, if you pout when you're crossed, that will remain your private knowledge. When you talk about your life, you'll tend to mention the courageous things you've done, the hard work, you'll give examples of your loyalty and integrity. It's relatively easy in a long distance relationship, for the new person in your life to be made aware primarily of your virtues, to see only the best in you, not your mistakes or your flaws. We've all heard people say, about someone they may have loved and lived with for years, "I thought I knew him. I thught I knew everything about him. But now I've seen things in him I never dreamed were there." If this can happen after years of being with someone, how much more easily it can happen in a short Internet aquaintance.

But the best of us is real, it's not an illusion, so to that extent the person on the other end of our email is seeing, and loving, at least an important part of who we are

So yes, I think you can fall in love over the internet, in love with the qualities you've seen. You can know that those qualities are precious to you, that they arouse powerful feelings of love. But you cannot yet love the total person -- who is, after all, composed of body as well as mind and spirit -- because you cannot yet know the total person.

I want to be clear that I am not saying that one shouldn't attempt to find a potential lover on the Inernet -- or anywhere else for that matter, except perhaps the county jail (and even then, who knows?). And I am not sayig that one should hold back one's feelings, deny them, refuse to acknowledge and communicate them during an internet romance. That kind of repression isn't the way for anyone to live. What one feels, one feels. But what we should understand is that because we cannot yet know everything we need to know, because our experience of the person is necessarily so limited, future disappointment is possible. But there's nothing wrong -- and much that is right -- about diving in head first and saying to oneself: I don't need guarantees engraved in stone, I want this experience, and I'm willing to accept whatever may happen in the future. There are worse things than being disappointed or hurt -- and one of those things is never to have taken a risk, to deprive oneself of the happiness of the present because of fear of the future. There are some lines from Kahil Gabrin that I've always loved-- I may not be quoting them exactly, but close: "Then if you are not brave enough to love, pass out of love's threshhold, into the seasonless world, where you will laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears."

Barbara

One final relevant quote (I don't recall the source): "There is only one thing worse than being vulnerable, and that is being invulnerable."

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I wanted to chime in here with my opinion, and my experience. I fell in love with a woman online; we're now married and still very much in love. To say that what we experience of someone through online interaction such as email or chat, is not "reality" is absurd. To say that we can't fundamentally know someone from such interaction is absurd. When Lydia and I met face to face, I learned nothing fundamental about her; I already knew her fundamentally. Did I further learn things about her? Yes, but they were not significant. In all relationships, we learn new things about people when we move from one stage to the next. For instance, in a previous relationship I learned new things about the person I had been dating when we decided to move in together. In my present relationship I learned new things about Lydia when we met face to face, I learned further things about her when we moved in together(fortunately no nightmare changes took place after we got married ;) Hell, I still learn new things about her now, and I love doing so. My point is, that even though in different stages of the relationship I have learned new things, I knew her fundamentally when I first said, "I love you," and this was before we had met face to face.

Just because people can be deceptive online, it is a non-sequitur to say that they always are, and to claim that we can never have accurate knowledge of a person until we touch them(what a very post-modern approach!!). So many times we've heard statements that begin, "You think you know a person... ." These statements are not endemic to online relationships. People can find out that a person is not fundamentally who they thought they were after a few dates, after a few conversations or even after years of marriage. However, as I can personally attest to, people can also find out that someone is fundamentally the same person face-to-face as they were online. If anyone wants to talk about "reality", then I'll say you can't negate it. You can't negate the reality that I fell in love with someone online, discovered them to be the same person face-to-face, and am still in love with them just by saying "uh-uh, can't happen."

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