Be wary when entering cyber relationships

I have been single for a year now. I had previously been a widow. I got married and didn’t know that the guy was married already. I got married according to Muslim rites as I am Muslim too. Two days after I got married, I got a call from his wife telling me that he is married and that I am the 9th wife. He is married now to the 10th. Ever since I have been single I have been on sites where I have come across a lot of fake guys. How do I get one that is not fake?

I am really sorry to hear about your loss and disappointment. It also makes me feel a deep compassion for your anxiety about finding the right partner who is committed to you.

I am not an expert on Islamic customs, but it is indeed disconcerting that seemingly “religious” individuals, like your ex-husband, abuse the sacred rituals and customs of marriage and commitment to suit their self-indulgent whims.

This, I believe, is contrary to the principles as practised and promulgated by Mohammed, the magnanimous founder of Islam.

I was wondering how old you are and whether you have a friendship circle. I understand that these days a lot of what we experience is through the cyber platform, but human relationships work best the old-fashioned way through face-to-face contact.

With cyber dating, it appears there are many more possibilities for meeting someone but, equally, there are many more possibilities for faking it.

I know an individual who often plays with this idea and sends out fake profiles, posturing himself with photoshopped pictures, exaggerated profiles of himself and over-inflated qualifications and achievements.

He does this for fun. But the responses that he gets made me think about how easy it is to fabricate a fake image of oneself and “market” oneself as extraordinary and attractive to others.

The cyber dating world lends itself to this precisely because it is a virtual reality.

It mimics reality but is not real life.

Sadly, many unsuspecting, innocent or desperate people fall for these fabricated images and information.

Protect yourself and be vigilant when entering cyber relationships and dating. Some of these have had fatal outcomes.

So, mostly, I would encourage you to hang out with friends and people in your social circle, at home or at work.

Attend meetings and events in your community, spiritual places, or pursue other interests you may have. To meet a “real” guy, you need to be in the “real” world and be “real” yourself , that is, be yourself… this is often most attractive to others.

My daughter is married for 14 years. She only told me now that she was molested as a kid by a family member. She has three beautiful kids, but she is not happy in her marriage. She does want to go for help. Please give advice, as I am desperate.

I can hear that you are very concerned about your daughter and her emotional struggles, both past and present.

That she told you at this point about having been sexually molested as a child, must have taken a lot of courage from her.

That you listened, however painful and difficult it was for you, would more than likely have made her feel deeply understood and supported.

This, in itself, can be very healing for someone who has experienced trauma or any other emotionally painful experience.

I would strongly encourage her to seek counselling since childhood traumas do not go away by themselves but only get buried in the unconscious and mostly haunts the person’s adult emotional and relational experiences.

She can contact the Trauma Centre in Woodstock at 021 465 7373 or email info@trauma.org.za

They offer counselling for various forms of traumatic experiences.

I would also advise that she does not make any big decisions such as divorcing her husband until she has received counselling from a trained professional and processed these with her therapist first.

I want advice on my situation. I am 29 years old and pregnant. The baby’s dad is 22 years old. How do I go to work with this?

I am not sure what you mean by “how do I go to work with this?” but I will try to respond to this from the two interpretations that I make from it.

Firstly, how does one make this workable for you?

This would include a profound acceptance of your situation: you are pregnant and expecting a beautiful baby in a few months.

This little person growing inside you feels your emotions, and if you are all stressed out and anxious, he or she feels the effects through higher levels of cortisone, the stress hormones in the body as well as a deep sense of not feeling wanted and, in fact, rejected.

Babies are very sensitive to their mother’s emotional states in utero already.

I would strongly suggest that you accept and learn to love this little individual growing inside you.

Secondly, although the dad is younger than you, he might be a responsible young man, who will help you raise your child, even if you do not get married.

But what is certain is that a child who grows up with both parents, in a loving and mostly happy home environment, who is encouraged to grow according to his/her developmental needs and feels supported and loved, is generally more adapted to life and a more happy and self-confident adult.

Lastly, the literal interpretation of “how do I go to work with this?”

It’s no one else’s business that you are an adult woman who is pregnant, no matter how you became pregnant.

Your body, your life, your child, has nothing to do with the opinions of others, a lot to do with your own loving thoughts and feelings about yourself, your child and her/his development.

* This column will appear every two weeks. Carin-Lee Masters is a clinical psychologist in private practice.

While she cannot enter into correspondence with individual readers, she will try to answer as many queries as possible through this column or refer you to organisations that can assist.

You can write to her at helpmecarin@inl.co.za or send a WhatsApp message or SMS to 082 264 7774.

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