Questions You Must Ask About Your Online Relationships

Social media is a great way to connect. Just beware of the dangers!

• Q. Am I spending too much time with people online?

A. Maybe. Your high school boyfriend who you haven't seen in 15 years is not your boyfriend. Why are you spending hours chatting him up online? It didn't work out the first time, right? You might consider what you are not doing that you would be doing if you spent less time online.  Like having dinner with your friends or working out at the gym where you might meet a real person. Consider adopting a rule of spending at least as much time with real-life friends as on-line friends. You can also try a little technology cleanse.

• Q. How long do I go without a face-to-face?

A. I'm talking in person, not Face Timing or Skyping. What are you getting out of the online contact and what are you missing out on? One recent study concluded that only real-life friends lead us to feel happier. Another study found that you can have a lot of online friends, but you won't feel supported by them the same way you do by your real-life friends. Online chats, texts and even phone calls are for getting to know someone. Once that's done, it's time to move on and meet up, or end it.

• Q. Why can't I find him on Goggle?

A. Not everyone has a huge internet presence, but you can tell where they ought to show up. Someone who graduates from Stanford should appear on an alumni list and a professional should be listed on a licensing website. The absence of this type of confirmation ought to raise your suspicions. You can always ask the person about it. Any reasonable person meeting online would understand your desire for a little concrete validation that they're who they say they are. After all, people lie.

Ask yourself these questions and answer them honestly. Then move away from any imaginary boyfriends you uncover and keep it real.

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