The Catfish Phenomenon: Revisited

I love Catfish the TV Show; it is a distinct eye opener and interesting insight into the love and psychologies of individuals, especially in these bizarre social networking times.  Love has become diluted enough over years, even in my relatively (ahem) short lifetime, yet now couples are falling in love with an image on a screen and merely an idea of the person they ‘talk’ to.  I’m not against online dating, if that’s your thing, but falling in love online?  That is something I will never understand.  How can it be love when you haven’t even met the person?

I have just watched an episode where a young ex-army male had fallen in love with another young man via Facebook.  They had been in a ‘relationship’ for a year, but never met.  Anthony, the honest one flew out to meet his beau at Thanksgiving, but he was stood up; waiting in a restaurant for over two hours; humiliated as you can imagine.  Unbeknown to him, the person he was in love with had given a fake profile, name and picture.  Whilst the jilted man sat looking up every time the door opened to see if Marq had walked in, Framel (the real Marq) was actually in the restaurant, but unable to approach the one he allegedly loved to confess his falsehoods.  Anthony had had previous doubts about the legitimacy of his ‘boyfriend,’ yet his feelings remained.  Anthony was in love with ‘Marq.’  When he eventually found out the truth and faced Framel he was understandably angry and hurt.

Most of us can attest to being in need of love at some point in our lives.  Those prolonged single times, when you just wish someone was there….someone to love and be loved by.  Love does give life meaning; giving us a level of happiness that nothing else can come close to.  Not all of us, however, can admit to needing love so much that we would believe anything in order to simply maintain that emotional need.

For some, it is blatantly born out of insecurity.  Insecurity breeds a need to be loved; for attention.  It takes away the fleeting want, the added bonus that love should be to life, and makes it a necessity.  Love arising from insecurity and necessity can never be a good thing.  Yet, it’s power remains undeniable.  To be so in love can make a person crazy.  It can both lift you taller than the highest mountain and crush you like a bug underfoot; and that’s even when you know the person in real life!  To love someone so intensely, whom you have never met, only to discover that the person you spoke to online or on the phone wasn’t the face you see mirrored on your laptop proves utterly devastating to the believers; and understandably so.  Feelings of sheer embarrassment, foolishness, being gullible are rife when the truth comes out.  To declare your love for anyone opens you up to self ridicule if things don’t go to plan, especially when you discover your betrothed to be untrustworthy.  I can only imagine that the metaphorical eggs one would feel, sliding down the face, would be far more self deprecating when you have to admit you were in love with a person who didn’t actually exist.  For shame!

I have had situations where affections were expressed to me from online ‘friends,’ without ever having met them.  I took them all with a large pinch of salt and gave them no time.  I hope that I was somewhat eloquent in my dismissal of their affections.  Admittedly, unlike a lot of profiles out there, I am an honest individual throughout.  My words are always from the heart.  I speak my mind, my opinions, my dreams, my desires, my love, my sadness, my joy, my pain, all in equal measure and with complete truth.  Some people understand this honesty and find it attractive.  Others have tried to use it to their advantage, believing me to be vulnerable.  Those ones always fail.  I may wear my heart on my sleeve, but I am not blind, nor dumb; but love, for me simply cannot blossom from infront of a computer screen, no matter what is being discussed. 

I am currently seeing someone who has been in my life for quite a number of years.  We had met once a long time ago, but remained in contact via Facebook and text messaging.  It was evident from the first time we met that there was an attraction, although as we were both about to embark on other relationships back then, it remained a beautiful mystery.  Both of those relationships have since failed, and actually around the same times, so we have had the chance to converse more, via text, until we met again and began spending more and more time together.  It is only since we were able to meet and interact that the initial attraction and interest has begun to blossom into emotion.  The foundations of us were already in place, a friendship, an understanding of one another, an interest in eachothers lives and minds; but it wasn’t until we were physically together that we could feel the potential unfold. 

A couple needs to know what it feels like for their bodies to be close, to see if you are physically compatible.  You need to see what lights up their faces; the crinkles in their nose when they smile; the sound of their laughter; the sight of their tears; their reactions; their mannerisms; their kiss.  If all these things are as natural and attractive as the way they have portrayed themselves in text, then jackpot!  Let the love flow between you!  Until then, you really are just falling for something make believe.

JG

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Some People Were Made For Eachother……

Champaign’s, “How ‘Bout Us,” played on the radio this morning whilst at work. I love this song. It’s full of romance and hope for the future, together with an air of shyness and trepidation. I can see the singer holding the hands of the woman he loves, his head bowed; and as he asks her if she thinks they will last forever he raises his eyebrows as though to force his eyes to look at her, despite his nerves, in order to see her reaction. Will she say yes? Does she want the same as him? Will he be rejected and broken hearted?

It sparked a conversation with my colleagues and one chap said that this had been his wedding song, many years prior. His marriage has since been dismantled, so these days the song just fills him with dread. It got me thinking about the promises we make to a partner.

I can imagine the love surrounding his wedding day; the Bride and Groom dancing their first dance to their chosen song, hopeful of a lifetime together with no obvious end in sight; and yet all that remains for him now is a memory of a day that didn’t fulfil its purpose. It wasn’t ‘til death do us part;’ it was, ‘til life gets in the way and we fall out of love only to end up as acquaintances at best, do we part.’ It pains me to know this!

Nobody can ever predict the future, of course. When a couple marry, preferably for the right reasons and at the right time, all those promises made are real; they are intended, they are heartfelt. The demise of love, however, is one of the worst things we have to contend with. It’s so confusing, so hurtful. How can promises be made and then broken? How can a love you thought was so real, real enough to commit to, end up by the wayside? This chap at work never remarried, but what of those who do? Or to break it down even simpler…..what of the love we have all had, and lost? We have all made promises to people; some of us have broken them, some of us have had them broken; but as time goes by and we overcome the sadness and disappointment, the hurt or the betrayal of the last, we find ourselves making new promises; feeling love anew. When I say promise, I don’t necessarily mean, “I promise to never cheat on you;” or even more implausibly, “I promise to never leave you;” more simply I mean when we say, “I love you. “ That in itself comes with its own unwritten promises.

No-one has the right to make a promise. None of us know the future so it would be foolish to even attempt it. I suppose, when it comes to love and/or marriage, all we can really do is know that we mean it at the time. Should life step in to break a couple up, then it’s just a case of getting over it and moving on. Yet, I can’t help but think what a mind bender it is…….to fall in love, only to subsequently fall out of love. Although one might argue that these people in such situations were basically sent to us to teach or to be taught some kind of life lesson; it seems a beautiful, unforgivably cruel, and yet necessary aspect of life.

It’s bad enough to have to go through the trauma of a broken relationship or a broken heart, but as someone that would love my moment at the altar, I don’t think I could cope if divorce came to my door! I think an irreparably broken marriage would destroy me. Almost certainly it would destroy my faith in love (and that has been tested quite enough, thank you very much).   Marriage is so abused these days and I am much the traditional suitor. If I was to agree to become someone’s wife I would take my vows extremely seriously. “For better or for worse.” “In sickness and in health.” In other words if my partner fell on hard times I’d be there. If they became handicapped in an accident, altering our way of life for eternity, I’d still be there. If I love a woman enough to want to spend the rest of my life with her, then I’m going to damn well make sure I don’t let life get in the way. Love is too important. Of course, that doesn’t mean I’d stay in a loveless relationship, if heaven forbid we did fall out of love for some reason; neither would I stay if I was being mistreated or disrespected. I don’t believe in marriage, or any relationship, for the sake of it. Separation or divorce, when togetherness had once been good, is a monumental tragedy in my book, but ultimately it just to be accepted that love, in all of its forms, comes and goes. The trick is to have no expectations.

One must always hope to love again though, despite any previous hurt. There will never be joy without pain, nor loss without gain, so one may as well jump back on the love bandwagon when it rolls into town, crack the (proverbial) whip and set off into the sunset! Be bold enough to make that promise again, because actually, there is nothing so beautiful than sharing love.

JG