Experiencing an Online Friendship

January 23, 2020
Affection, respect, support... These are some of the ingredients a friendship needs. But are these ingredients enough to keep the bond through a computer screen?

The development of new technologies has made it possible to create new ways to communicate and relate to others. Thanks to this, it’s now easier to have an online friendship. Every day, more and more people get online to try and meet people. However, most people will like to take these friendships into the real world.

But is it possible to establish and keep an online friendship? Well, things aren’t always black and white. In this article, you’ll learn about online friendships and how real they can be.

Some friends on a roof at night.

What does “friendship” mean today?

Friendship is a wide concept. Not all friendships are the same, not everybody’s looking for the same type of friendship nor share the same values as others. There are functional and dysfunctional friendships and friendships that blossom due to where they happen. The latter can be seen in work or school friendships.

On the other hand, there are friendships for pleasure. These happen when the people involved have shared feelings of affection, respect, and admiration. When this happens, the context doesn’t matter, because people decide to become friends due to how they feel rather than where they’re at.

Thus, it wouldn’t be possible for some friendships to start online. Y0u can’t embrace some online friends or go with them to the bar on the weekends. However, there are other aspects of friendship that can be found in online friendships.

The characteristics of an online friendship

Selfless friendships

Since there’s not common ground that forces interaction (like being family or working together), the relationship is voluntary. Besides, due to the geographical distance, you can’t meet with them.

Therefore, rest assured that the other person’s selfless and honest. Your friendship with them comes from a real place. It’ll blossom thanks to shared interests and values. You’ll both decide to keep your bond because you find it enriching and satisfying.

Two people in an online friendship.

Deep knowledge of each other

Online friendships have a lot of writing involved. Writing can do wonders to express and open up to one another. The written word needs more thought to choose the right words. Even if it’s spontaneous, the spoken word is also faster and, therefore, shallow.

Writing can help you stay in touch with your feelings and express them to a larger extent. Besides, it allows you to take your time and appreciate what the other person’s sharing with you.

An online friendship can give you a deep knowledge of the other person, and yourself, and this creates an important emotional bond.

Loyalty, support, and trust in an online friendship

These are the basic characteristics of friendship. Far from being affected by distance, online friendships become stronger. With online friendships, both parties can share their experiences, fears, and doubts. Due to shared interests and deep knowledge, you can both understand each other and offer genuine and caring advice.

Knowing that someone’s willing to invest a little of their time to build a bond with you feels great. Plus, this gesture means more when both lead busy and far apart lives and still manage to care about your friendship.

A girl trying to avoid FOMO by checking her social media accounts on her phone.

In short, an online friendship will never replace physical contact and shared experiences. However, you can sometimes meet interesting people online. Being far apart won’t be a reason to cut them out of your life.

Even though an online friendship can feel limited, it doesn’t mean it won’t be an enriching experience. If there’s affection, mutual respect, and interest and if both people appreciate the other for what they are, an online friendship can be a wonderful experience.

Chan, D. K. S., & Cheng, G. H. L. (2004). A comparison of offline and online friendship qualities at different stages of relationship development. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships21(3), 305-320.

Mesch, G. S., & Talmud, I. (2006). Online friendship formation, communication channels, and social closeness. International Journal of Internet Science1(1), 29-44.