Repairing Relationships

Building intimacy and joy into your relationships

Have You Ever Experienced Terrorist Love?

What do you you when your Bad Boy Love becomes arresting?

Unsealed documents revealed this month that 19-year-old Shannon Conley was recently arrested at Denver Airport on terrorism charges after her parents alerted authorities that their daughter planned to travel to Turkey to meet and marry Y.M., a 32-year-old Tunisian militant member of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) she had met online. According to Fox 31 Denver, Shannon was more than glad to proclaim her love for her internet boyfriend and wanted to contribute her nursing skills in the cause of jihad against the United States.

Why would a woman like Shannon risk it all for love with a stranger? Her case is extreme but she isn't alone. A  study by researchers at the University of Chicago which was reviewed by researchers at Harvard University has discovered that 35 percent of marriages between 2005 and 2012 were initiated by meeting on the internet. Half of those internet love connections were through dating websites such as eHarmony, Christian Mingle and Match.com. Twenty percent of those who didn't use dating websites met on social networking websites like Facebook, while 15 percent began courtship through email and chat rooms.

For millions of Americans, it  is easier to fixate on the physical beauty of a person's picture and superficial charm of strangers typing them messages  than deal with the foibles of those we spent hours with every day.

Courtship was originally designed to ascertain the correct partners for each individual. There was supposed to be some discernment involved, some weeding out of inappropriate candidates, as in a job search. Today men and women are going on the internet looking for some body, entertaining any personality and temperament as a potential mate, from moody graphic artist to poised family practice physician, from shy librarian to boisterous improvisational comic. Yet our supposedly less enlightened forefathers and foremothers knew that the fitting of square pegs into round holes led to relational disaster.

Modern romance in 2014 is based on the false optimism of our would be jihadist, who has fallen for the myth that love is a fairy tale. Our travelling terrorist believes with all her heart that once she locates her Tunisian militant , they will live happily ever after. Unfortunately, finding someone to accept your romantic offerings may not result in mutual personal fullfillment once the thrill of the honeymoon is gone. The harsh reality of differing interests, culture and clashing personalities can mean a sad ending to our storybook romances, no matter how strong the initial passion seems on the internet.

J.R. Bruns, M.D., is co-author of The Tiger Woods Syndrome, a book about repairing relationships.

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