Sunday, August 14, 2011

Love ♥ On-line

(our wedding invite cover c/o Wingdingz)

Love ♥ On-line
Lj T. Salceda

I have been meaning to write something... a lot of things actually.

My trip to Bicol...
The K1 (Fiancee) Visa Process...
Our Wedding Preparations...
My last few days in the Philippines...
My first week in the US...
And the list goes on...

Where would I begin? So much to write about, so little time. So many things have transpired since my last article. Let me start by responding to one of the most asked questions I've gotten so far.

"i wud like to ask po sana kung anu pong christian site or social network nyo nakilala c mr. john (ur fiance)? thanks po! we miss u n po sa radio" - from a listener." (I would like to ask from what Christian site or social network did you meet your fiance John?)

I'm your avid listener on i.u..just want t0 c0ngratulate u and ur husband t0 be 0n ur upcoming wedding..ur l0ve st0ry inspired me..can l ask what christian site did you meet your future husband? h0pe u can grant my request.thanks. - from an FB friend

A little history first... I was introduced to the on-line community back in 1997 after attending a seminar about the inter-net organized by our municipal library. Thereafter I've been an active netizen- exchanging letters with my on-line penpals, polishing my English vocabulary by writing articles and learning the ins and outs of the virtual universe by perusing various websites.

The inter-net, computer and technology are such wonderful tools! I consider them gifts to humankind. But they can also be abused or misused just like any other gift or tool.

In spite of the advancement in technology and our more "liberal" times, many still view on-line dating or relationships negatively. It is oftentimes synonymous to mail order brides or virtual prostitution and even pornography. Sadly, these things do abound on-line, but I'd rather focus on the benefits of technology like how it brought me and my hubby to-be together. :)

John and I met through a Christian dating site called Christian Dating For Free (CDFF) more than two years ago. Before I go on any further, let me just point out that I'm NOT endorsing this site or any particular dating site or even on-line dating. I am merely answering specific questions from listeners/friends. Each dating site has their own rules, advantages/disadvantages and purpose.

Since I've been on-line for more than a decade now, I've picked-up a number of valuable lessons/pointers that I want to share with those who are or want to try on-line dating/relationship (OLD/R):

1. Be EXTRA cautious. On-line dating definitely has its limitations, as well as benefits. Like in the real world people can lie, betray or deceive you in the virtual world. If you're not mindful, you might end up hurt and broken. Before you give any specific personal info or commit to someone on-line make sure you've met him/her in person, have taken the time to get to know each other and have developed trust with each other.

2. Set rules and boundaries. Early on in my adult life I've decided NOT to date or get involved with guys who are a.) old enough to be my dad (I'm not looking for a replacement of my absentee father), b.) separated/divorced/annulled or c.) have kids. Not to pass judgement on anyone, but those are my personal convictions. I can talk to them or be friends with them but nothing more. :)

Before becoming an official dating couple, I request John to come to the Philippines and see me. He did after months of exchanging IM's and e-mails. (This made me admire him more because it showed how dedicated and committed he was in pursuing me. With very limited resources and time, he booked a trip to Manila and gave in to my request, um more like a demand.) I was able to introduced him to my family and friends and he was able to observe me at work. We were able go out on dates like typical dating couples do. Only then did we become official boyfriend/girlfriend.

3. Don't just date to date. Date with a purpose (of getting to know each other to find out if it will lead to the possibility of marriage.) If it would help to involve your family or friends in your search for a lifetime partner, then let them know so makaliskisan n'yo as we say in Filipino. Ask trusted people to pray for you or for tips from couples who are in the same boat. They might see things from a different perspective, especially if you're too focused with the other person or your feelings for each other.

If after plenty (say 3-5) years of talking on-line and you still have not met his/her family & close friends or you have not seriously discussed settling down and other important topics, evaluate the direction of your relationship or friendship (if this is what you both decide on).

4. Be realistic. Some people succeed in finding love or the right partner on-line, some don't. On-line relationships involve risks, require a lot of hard work, patience, money, time, sacrifice and trust. If you think it's difficult to be with someone you can't see/touch/smell for a long time, think hard because long-distance love is TOUGH and it might not be for you. Your romance might start on-line, but it doesn't mean when you're off-line you should go out with another guy/girl or you will be "skyping" or "yming" for life. Your dynamics will change once you're physically together. Plan, save and do everything you can to make it work.

5. Pray (a lot!). Ask for the Lord's protection, wisdom and discernment. I don't look for clues or signs when I pray about something or someone. I ask God to confirm what He has already impressed in my heart. I consult the Bible or a man/woman of God if I need additional counsel.

If your on-line or long-distance relationship doesn't work, don't lose heart. People meet in various, crazy, unimaginable ways and places. God is a God of surprises. The important thing is you tried and gave it your best.

Btw, I don't recommend (on-line and even off-line) dating or bf-gf relationships to high-school or college students. I strongly suggest finishing your STUDIES first before pursuing someone or getting involved in a committed relationship. Trust me, it'll be worth the wait! :)

My friend Kuya Kevin Sanders also wrote an interesting article about On-line Relationships.