Understanding Connections and Relationships Online

Many experts have recommended relationships as the number one key to online success. Building up a community in your niche drives the numbers for your website up to where you want them to be. These relationships open doors, guide your path and even give you a leg up when you need it most.

Recently I was told that I had crossed the line with an online request. My problem was that I did not even know there WAS a line. I know the lines in my face to face life. There are a few people that I know I can call if I need someone to watch my kids for a couple of hours. There are those people that I know I can call if I need some help with a particular activity. There are a few that I probably would never call, but if worse came to worse they would still do all that they could do to help me out if times got tough.

Understanding these limits when it comes to my online connections and relationships can be tough. Does a connection become a relationship with a few tweets and retweets? Are direct messages and emails required as well? Can a connection become a relationship instantly – the online equivalent of “love at first”?

There are no magic requirements for developing relationships online. Sometimes the connection is instantly a relationship. Edward Elliot was one of these for me. I believe I first met him on Twitter but it could have been Facebook. He has always been one to share links, blog posts or retweets without hesitation.

Amy Bayliss (of A Woman Inspired) is another instant relationship. I met her through her blog and now connect with her through emails, conferences, and Facebook. She has opened doors for me that I would never have imagined only a few months back.

Then there are those that I have emailed, tweeted with and even commented back and forth on Facebook but the relationship does not exist. It might feel like it at times, but the reality comes crashing in just when you are counting on that relationship the most.

How do I know the difference?

Reading people online is not all that different from reading people in person. It is what is said between the lines that has the most importance. If I had noticed that all the comments began from MY end then I might not have even been standing on the rug and definitely would not have been surprised when it was pulled away.

How do you judge between a connection and a relationship online? What do you expect before you make that distinction?

Knowing the limits of others is not always easy. Understanding your own limits might not be all that is necessary. You may need to clarify up front about a new relationship or connection about what is and is not acceptable and be ready and willing to offer an apology if you accidently cross that line that you did not see.

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  • Hi Kathryn –

    As in real life, some people you meet will become acquaintances, casual friendships, and a few will become lifelong friends. Three of my contacts not only email me, but also telephone, critique my work, and encourage me.

    I think you hit on an important item. If I’m always the one commenting and there’s no real interaction, the relationship is shallow at best. There must be a give and take.

    Thanks for an excellent post.

    Susan 🙂

    • Hey Susan – you are one of those that I consider a relationship. You have been a HUGE blessing to me since you first discovered me way back when. I enjoy your comments and your website.

      Building relationships can be just as difficult (and sometimes more so) online then they are in person!

  • Hi Kathryn –

    How kind of you! I can say the same for you. 🙂 I love your site and often link to it.

    I’ve met so many wonderful people. My only regret is I can’t spend as much time as I’d like with each of them. I do try to keep in touch.

    I guess the old adage applies: If you want a friend, be a friend.

    Susan 🙂

    • That is very true. I am trying to reach out more over the internet but in my physical life as well. I’ve also stopped worrying about what they do – or do not – do for me in return. It just gives me more peace. I figure that I have been myself for almost 40 years and it has worked well so far. 😀

  • Hello. I go on a writing site and chat with people all the time. We all have our usernames and profiles in which we can view and read peoples’ stories, poems, and journals. The older you are on the site and the more funny and stand-outish you are in the chat rooms, the more popular you are.

    I used to go on Facebook all the time, but now I have given up nearly all other sites just for this one writing site. When I’ve talked to people long enough and there is a connection, we exchange MSN emails. I only have friends from online on my MSN. I can usually tell if there is a connection within 5-10 minutes of talking with someone. When you’re online enough it’s fairly easy to read people. Some take weeks to read. I try to find similar patterns in what they say and base their personalities off of colours.

    It’s interesting how people are judged solely for their typing skills. We judge by looks in real life, but on this site it starts out with, ‘are you typing properly?’. If so, you have to pass the next test which is, ‘do you spam or type absurd or obnoxious things?’. Us older users judge base off of skills like those which is as close as we get to study someone’s personality off a first-time internet discussion.

    • Hey Allie – I know what you mean by finding that connection in just a few minutes – but I have discovered that there were times when I misread the situation. Does that ever happen to you?