Netiquette Banner Netiquette, by Virginia Shea, page 116

Cyberspace can also be a great place to carry on an illicit relationship. In Paulina Borsook's short story "Love Over the Wires," (Endnote #26) the heroine carries on a torrid epistolary affair with one man while living with another. She can be sitting at her computer writing to her lover, while her official significant other is in the next room.

There are plenty of "adults-only" discussion groups and chat rooms, intended for sex talk rather than romance. And MUDs involve some proportion of sexual activity.

For the most part, romance Netiquette is the same as romance etiquette. Here are a few questions you might ask, however:

Q. Does online cheating count?

Does your nonvirtual significant other know about it and think it's fine? If the answer is yes, you're clear. If the answer is no, it counts.

Q. I've been carrying on a romantic correspondence with someone I've only met online. Recently I've become romantically interested in another electronic friend. Will I be cheating on my original "virtual S. O." if I pursue a romance with another person?

Yes. You owe your online friends the same standards of honor and honesty as your nonvirtual friends.

Q. This person I've only met electronically is pursuing me romantically. I'm not interested. How should I handle it?

Since you don't know the person live, you can't use subtle nonverbal signals to show your lack of interest. But those subtle nonverbal signals don't always work anyway -- even in person. You need to move to the next level: directness. Send email saying, "I'm flattered, but I'm just not interested." (Don't post the note where others can see it; there's no need to humiliate the unrequited one.) If the person keeps bugging you,


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