Too Many Online "Friends"
Q: I have had a relationship with a wonderful girl and her son for five years until right now. Do you think it's appropriate for a girl in a serious relationship (living together and planning to marry) to have a MySpace page that she spends most nights on (she works on her laptop right beside me sometimes), being somewhat secretive? Does it make sense to have 280 "friends" - some of which are single males that are really not close friends? -- Mike, 44
Dr. Susan: What's "appropriate" and what's "sensible" have to be worked out between the two people involved. The whole MySpace thing is still new enough that I can't say what's normal or what might be detrimental to a relationship. Counting "friends" won't get you anywhere. Some people are promiscuous friend collectors without necessarily intending to go beyond simple online networking. The big question is whether or not your girlfriend neglects you by spending so much time interacting with virtual strangers. It's like being addicted to video games. Sometimes people forget there's such a thing as sunshine and real humans to talk to and share with. So speak up about your own needs that her laptop time may be detracting from. Also, the secretiveness is never a good thing. She's entitled to her privacy, but she'd allay your discomfort if she let you in on her MySpacing. Does her profile admit she's in a committed relationship? (Maybe she wants a more genuine commitment from you in order to give up her right to carry on all these friendships? Just a guess, possibly way off base....) She probably just finds the whole networking thing a good antidote to boredom. Talk with her about livening up your REAL lives.
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.