Words are so powerful. I have been an online chatter for about four years now, mostly using mental health support rooms; I was a moderator for a while but now I just support and get support as a regular peer. It is hard to remember that sometimes the people on the other end aren’t who you believe them to be; that’s not to say that everyone is trying to pull one over on you, but there are people out there who seem to enjoy building up relationships only to bring that online reality crashing down around you.
I have been there; if the EUPD diagnosis is to stand and/or be believed then this is pretty typical. In the course of using the chat rooms it’s not uncommon to see people with that particular issue being pulled into an intense fling-type-thing with other chatters; and usually the person on the receiving end of those attentions don’t realise just how emotionally attached EUPD people can get over the course of maybe a couple of conversations. We get attached; even when we don’t want to, mean to or know we shouldn’t. It just happens. It doesn’t always mean something beyond the alternate reality that is internet chat rooms, but for someone with EUPD a two hour conversation exploring our similarities is as good as lust at first sight.
And despite knowing deep down that these friendships we build can never go anywhere – most of us are in a real-world relationship and generally we’re happy with it – we fall into this deep sense of longing; I wish I could explain why and I’m writing this in the knowledge that my darling husband is incredibly understanding of the fact that sometimes in the online sphere I meet someone who captures my attention and interest. Thank goodness he understands that it doesn’t mean I’m planning to leave him. It just happens to be so intoxicating to connect with someone on the other side of the world, and that’s when the attachment happens for no real reason; it is like we are unable to rationalise the context of these online chats and we become somewhat infatuated.
Of course, most of the people we chat to don’t realise the pull they have on our lives, and they understand better that the internet and its users come and go over a course of – usually – months. Unlike EUPD diagnosed chatters, they see the flirting as a bit of fun; somewhat akin to meeting someone in the pub on a Friday night and getting along with them but never swapping numbers or taking it any further. Sadly it’s not like this for EUPD people – we see a harmless bit of flirting as a declaration of interest – and when the object of our affection naturally moves on and goes AWOL, as is so easy to do on the internet, we are left with something like heartbreak; no less intense than the loss of a ‘real’ relationship but thankfully short-lived and eventually rationalised into the context of the truth.
It makes no difference that we know what we’re doing is essentially self-sabotage; we repeat the behaviour over and over, each time hoping for a different outcome and each time left reeling by the end. Typically a EUPD person grew up in an environment that was somewhat unstable; we haven’t learned about stable relationships and live in fear of being unloved so we latch onto affection wherever it comes from. It seems impossible to say ‘I know I’m making a mistake here, but I’ll do it anyway’, but that’s what we do and hope each time that it doesn’t end the way it always ends. I am so lucky to have Luke who is my constant rock-solid source of love and care so I am better at not falling in internet-love/lust, but that’s not to say that those thoughts don’t constantly crop up when I find myself connecting with someone.
I would love to be able to preface every conversation I have with ‘I have EUPD, so please do everything you can to push me away’, but that’s not how it works. So instead I, like everyone else, have to take my mistakes, pick myself up and live-and-learn. Shame it’s not that easy.