Navigating The Online Relationship World

By Jeff Neumeyer

January 17, 2013 Updated Jan 17, 2013 at 8:51 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (www.incnow.tv) --- The Manti Te’o situation illustrates the sometimes-confusing world of on-line dating relationships, something more and more people are willing to risk.

The star linebacker from Notre Dame says he was the victim of an elaborate hoax, when it turns out the girlfriend he claims he met on-line never really existed.

Fort Wayne counselor Megan Spinks says she deals with a number of clients stressed out about bad outcomes from contacts made on social media sites or on the Internet in general.

For some older folks, it might seem unthinkable to carry on a relationship with someone for months without ever meeting them in person.

But for the younger generation, it's not that uncommon.

Te'o claims he corresponded with his mythical girlfriend for more than a year without a rendezvous.

Megan Spinks calls them “fake” relationships.

But she says oddly enough there are many people who prefer keeping their distance on-line.

" When you get into these relationships on the Internet, people can say things that they think you want to hear, and you can also interpret and imagine what they must be like, versus what they actually are when they're face to face," said Spinks.

Spinks says there is no shortage of people willing to conjure up a hoax like the situation Te’o claims to be the victim of, partially because they get a rush from manipulating others.

She says it’s harder to pull it off if there is an actual face to face meeting, which is why she strongly urges folks who start a relationship on-line to make sure it doesn’t go too far before insisting on finding out who the person really is.

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