Online Dating: When to Keep Your Doubts to Yourself

Dear Ms. Demeanor:

My brother (who's gay) recently met someone online. It's been a mere two weeks, and he is already saying "I love you." I'm afraid he is going too fast, and I don't want to see him hurt. How can I help him -- or do I just sit back and help pick up the pieces afterwards?

DMR

Question:

Dear DMR:

I know this is a long shot, but the relationship just might work out, so your nay-saying will be for naught and your brother will end up resenting you. I know of some online meetings that have blossomed into happy, committed relationships.

There's no way we can protect those we love from being hurt, any more than anyone could have protected us when they wanted to. And in matters of the heart, passions run deep and opinions are often inflexible. All you can do is support your brother. Support, however, doesn't mean to roll over and agree with him. Often it means agreeing to disagree.

The biggest mistake you can make is to tell your brother what a big mistake he's making. If the romance falls apart, he will have lost face and it will then be difficult to mend your relationship. Instead, ask questions like "Have you thought about ..." when you bring up your concerns. You can say something like, "Saying 'I love you' after only two weeks seems out of the question for me. I respect your feelings, I just don't think I could go that far myself."

And never, ever vilify the new love interest, no matter how much you are tempted. Remember that this new person is part of your brother now, so to condemn him is to condemn your brother. And never say "I told you so" down the line. That, too is a sure-fire way to damage your relationship with your brother. And a damaged relationship is the last thing either of you needs.

Sometimes support is as much about self-control as action. This situation will, I'm certain, teach that one way or another. Good luck!

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