Of all the questions swirling around the Manti Te'o hoax mystery, this is the most interesting one: How do you fall in love with someone you've never met?
“People probably think this never happens,” says Dr. Gail Saltz, a TODAY contributor and psychiatrist who specializes in relationships and sex. “The huge change in our social activity based solely on the Internet has made this a phenomenon that does happen.”
Although some people may find it easier to be intimate online than in person, Saltz cautioned that online relationships that don’t progress to the face-to-face kind are “gravely, gravely limited.” Among the things they lack are sex, physical intimacy and non-verbal communication through body language, she said.
No kidding, "gravely limited." I've fallen in love with people I shouldn't have because they didn't love me, which is a form of narcissism. And a lot of us have done some serious flirting with people we've never actually met. But I don't see how you can call it any kind of love if you've never actually met someone and experienced at least a little intimacy, even if it's only to experience a hint of chemical reaction from across the room. This is the part of the story that makes me lean toward "Te'o perpetuated a hoax" instead of "Te'o was the victime of a hoax." Someone who calls an online-only acquaintance the "love of his life" is way beyond naive or sheltered and getting into seriously-disturbed territory, even in this era when new forms of communication are screwing up our traditional views of human interaction.