I have had experience in this department myself. The falling in love bit, not the finding a partner bit. And just like when it has happened to me in person, I had that moment of surprise when my heart and mind connected for that magical feeling I associate with love. That falling feeling of euphoria. I remember it distinctly with Daughter (thx birth hormones) and a few other (in person) lovers in my life. But the feeling of falling in love whilst sitting, alone, in front of your computer is equally compelling and even more mysterious because there is no one to touch and when you feel that feeling the first thing you want to do is touch in order to cement the connection, right?
But in the current era falling in love over the internet is unrequitted in that there is no touch available (not until the transporter thing gets a little further along..which it is lol). Let me detail my own story, in brief:
I was sitting in front of my computer in early 2007. A new message came in from some random stranger I had been communicating with furiously for months. This was not on a dating site. This was on one of the first successful communities built online that didn't focus on any particular interest or subject. This was social media before there was social media. Users chose who to follow and what interests to stumble through (you followed anyone you wanted). Yes, people used it for dating. In that fledgling community I made it clear early on that I was not looking for dates.
By 2007 I was already exhausted with online dating efforts (as a late 20s-early 30s woman dating online in the late 90s and early 00s there was a lot of interest so it took bucket loads of time to sift through results...which were paltry, at best, but fun occasionally too - by 2003 I found the whole effort disheartening and still feel much the same). The message I had received that night was so thoughtful and sweet and had been preceded by many many many similar such messages from the same user. I read the message and cupid struck. It was not a romantic message. I did not know how to react to the feeling. It was pleasurable, yes, but baffling. Some random dude in another country had managed to (unintentionally) shoot an arrow into my heart and I didn't know how to deal with it. I felt the same as the moment I realized I had my first serious crush in Grade 8. Awkward. I probably blushed like I did constantly back then and still do on occasion.
At that time (or subsequently) I didn't confess my feeling. Nor have I with the other two internet 'strangers' I met on that site and had similar moments where cupid's arrow struck. I am pretty sure there was a similar spark in each case. If my travels ever land me in their vicinity I will definitely be trying to arrange a face to face meeting. It won't be to try and recapture past feelings but because the spark I felt back then was genuine and based on a deep level of attraction to an intellect and a persona that seemed to care. I don't think their in person behaviour will differ. I am connected to all of them on other social media accounts now and love the occasional interaction we have. They are like a stable of past crushes that remind me of the type of people I'm capable of connecting deeply with. I suspect a lot of interactions like my own happened on that site. The men I interacted with were not looking for dating interactions with me and that's possibly why I felt safe enough in that online space to be real with them (and they with me perhaps). In the flurry of electronic bytes sent between us over a period of a few years, real relationships were formed even though I have yet to meet them offline and perhaps never will.
The internet, she be magic in more ways than one.