To be fair, this is something we do every day in our day-to-day lives. If we were socialized properly and don’t have any interfering mental issues, we go around all the time and make think certain things, but our brain-to-mouth filter catches them before they get us in trouble.
As much as that does work though, we will still blurt out wrong things at the wrong moment in live conversation, which everyone knows as “putting your foot in your mouth” form wherever the phrase started. Online interactions however add another layer on top of that.
With the way text chatting works, unlike in speech you get the entire message at once, rather than as the stream of words that spoken language is. Rather than take it bit by bit, you swallow the message in whole and then respond. ON top of that, depending on typing speed and message length, you could be communicating faster or slower than you would speaking, which can lead to you sometimes talking past the other person. For example, you could be responding to their previous sentance but by the time you get it out they’ve already said something on a different subject, and then you end up with two conversations at once potentially until one resolves itself.
Of course, holding multiple conversations at once can be a side benefit of this as well.
Either way, online interactions give you more time to think of what you’re going to say, which can lead to a conscious word filter in addition to your learned unconscious one. You may think more about what you’re going to say.. especially if you have an idea of what the other party is about to say and can see that they’re typing it(as most things, whether Skype, Second Life, or something else show it these days).
This isn’t always a good thing.
I for one prefer to try and keep my responses as close to what I would respond live, if possible, especially in an environment like Second Life. I try to avoid half-typing a sentence, then deleting it and starting over, though I admit it does happen sometimes… and there’s other times when what I’m about to say becomes pointless before I’m finished. Because of this, it bugs me sometimes when I’m saying good night to my dragoness and I catch myself thinking over the wording ahead of time while she’s typing. It feels like the time I have while she’s saying it is longer than if she was actually saying it, and I wouldn’t have near the same time, and then it feels like I’m overthinking it and meh. Personal pet peeve at myself.
That’s not everything though. Thre’s another instance of self-censoring that I only recently got myself over – the “L” word. Love.
In other past relationships I’ve had it’s come out probably too soon, and while it may not directly have contributed to the end of those, it never helped in the end either. Especially since I wasn’t even fully sure of my own feelings at the start, I firmly sat on it and fought against using it, even in the privacy of my own thoughts.
A slight side note here; the english language really should have more words for the various forms of love. Without adjectives and context, it can me romantic love, familial love, a really deep like for something, or just appreciation for really good friends. It’s all just very imprecise and can leave the way open for misunderstandings, compared to various other languages where each of those is its own word. In fact, it’s kind of amusing that Japanese, a language way more context-sensitive than English, actually does this.
Going back to the romantic use of the word though, there’s not much further a relationship can go at that point emotionally, in American culture. There’s still growing together and more the relationship can do to grow, but feelings-wise that’s considered to be it. That’s also why telling someone that too early can be considered creepy, as if you’re trying to force your feelings onto them.
So, as I said, I fought against and argued against using it even in my own head for a long while, even though it may have been the truth about how I was feeling towards her. In part that was because there’s other meanings of love that can affect a relationship – infatuation and lust.
The latter isn’t even a factor apart from whatever desire is caused by my already existing feelings for her as, hell, I still have yet to even see a picture of her. I know there folks out there that think me crazy for feeling this way about someone I haven’t seen, and they may be correct from certain points of view, but the heart is anything but rational. Back when I first started this relationship, I came to the conclusion that it’s not going to matter, after some thinking on that fact. Same thing with age – it might feel a bit weird if it turns out she’s as old as my parents, but nothing I couldn’t handle. I know she’s not hugely older than I am form some activities she did when she was younger, so there’ snot going to be a huge age gap either – the only downside of that at my age is the larger the gap, the less time we may have together at the end of our lives.. assuming everything works out at least. I’m not going to make any assumptions, but that doesn’t mean I can’t think ahead sometimes. I just have to know that at the moment it’s just a pleasant fantasy.
Anyways… back to the point I’ve been sidestepping towards. Infatuation at the start can seem like love, or even lead into it, but it wears off fairly quickly. Another reason that it’s bad to commit too fast and too heavily too early. At least now I’m at the age where I’m not fighting hormones to think with the larger head. Either way, I been into her long enough that I can pretty much write that off now – whatever comes, I definitely do care for her as my love and mate.
Fairly recently I finally started allowing myself to use it in my thoughts and when I’m by myself – to finally allow myself to use it and admit that I really did love her. In regards to that our goodnights had become a lot more affectionate, and basically we were referring to each other in every way but that. I kept wanting to say it but I also couldn’t help thinking that I should wait until the right moment. Even still, some of our goodnights felt like the right moment but I chickened out before saying it. I’d start typing, then change it before I finished because I had too much time to think about it. That was stopping me from using some other related words I wanted to use too, such as calling her my love, or beloved, and so on.
The funny part is that when I finally got over it, I added it onto one of the times I was saying goodnight, and while I didn’t feel nervous about it, it didn’t feel as good to finally say it as I thought it would… probably because I’d been holding off so long. Still it’s a relief that I don’t have to censor myself anymore, though after doing it for a while I find myself occasionally wanting to avoid the word again, just out of reflex.
In short, it’s way too easy to censor yourself online, even when you shouldn’t or don’t need to. Try not to give yourself time to overthink about what you’re typing, just roll with it and let your natural self-censor kick in instead of overthinking, and you’ll be much happier.