Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Taking the relationship offline

The closest I get to online dating is helping friends find a good match, write an eye-catching profile or recover from a bad date. Having picked up my husband the old fashion way, in a bar, my knowledge of online dating etiquette is quite limited. While our long distance relationship forced us to do a fair amount of “courting” through email, we did not have to wrestle with common online dating dilemmas: who to write, what to say, when to wink, if to take the relationship “off-line”, and how to meet in person. In the past I used to think that online dating was a passing fad, but the large number of my friends navigating the complex world of Match.com, eHarmony, Yahoo! Personals, Chemistry.com, DateMyPet.com, Millionaire Match, and a host of other websites is proving me wrong; online dating is probably the most common dating tool among the tech-set these days. I cannot help but wonder, with the millions of people meeting people online year after year, has the overall rules of dating changed?

It is obvious that how people meet has changed, but ultimately “real” relationships should not have transformed with the onslaught of dating and social networking websites. Whether you met online, in college, at work, through a friend, at the gym, on an airplane, or at a bar, there is a certain point in every relationship that how you met no longer matters. It is at that point that the rules of internet relationships get replaced by the more traditional tenants of any friendship, romantic or otherwise: respect, honesty, trust, loyalty, admiration, understanding, shared interests, and open communication. Unfortunately it seems like these important pillars of strong relationships are forgotten in a technology age where people have “friends” they never meet, and where everyone can all too easily lie about their backgrounds, looks, personality, interests and dreams.

It is easy to develop very casual relationships online and make “friends” on Facebook, MySpace, Multiply or any other social networking site or chat board, but this same casualness with a group of people who might share your love of underwater basket weaving should not change how you handle your flesh and blood friends. When I say handle I mean not replacing meaningful conversations, face-to-face meetings, heartfelt phone calls, and the delivery of important news through impersonal measures like email or, god forbid, text messaging. It is one thing to have an online relationship, but once you have developed a true bond with a person and started seeing, or having sex, with them outside of cyberspace, rules that govern relationships should adhere to the wisdoms of traditional tried and true friendships. It is okay to start a relationship online, but once the relationship develops into something serious it is not okay to end it that way. Breaking up with a friend or lover through email or text shows a lack of courage, respect and character, even if you met over email in the first place. Technology might change the way we meet and connect, but it is so important to remember people are more then profiles and avatars who can be “de-friended” with a click of a button. We must each fight the urge to take the easy way out of hard conversations to ensure a future for what truly keeps humanity together; love and friendship.

12 comments:

Dan said...

Michell,

Did you get your writing style from sex and the city? Why did you have to move so far away from DC? Have a drink at some bar like Grevey's and I will too! Tell Wade I said Hi!

Dan

Mother T. said...

How tacky and cowardly to breakup with someone via email or text? What kind of a lowlife would do something like this. And what kind of a Mother raised such a useless piece of scum like that. If this were my cowardly child, I would smack him upside the head. He should hang his heard in shame. And his Mother should teach him how to respect another person.

Dan said...

Mother T,

How do you know it was a male? Males don't have a lock on being scummy and cowardly!

From the males perspective...

Dan

Explosive Bombchelle said...

True, we often just assume scumbags are male but women are certainly as well. Perhaps we forget because women pretty up their scumbagness with makeup and good haircuts...

So, I do have a debate question, what is worse: an online breakup or just never calling back?

NeeNee said...

Ok I know that technology has developed and I have friends who met their significant others online so I do believe in online dating.

Now breaking up via email/text seriously that just makes the person, excuse my language, a pussy. Where is respect for the person who you have been with? It is a disgrace that people are losing their communication skills. Whoever would do this or think to do it, should just be ashamed of themselves.

I think that not calling ever again might be worse then a text/email. At least I can say he/she let me know to move on ASAP, where as no phone call you are kind of wondering what the f?

Dan said...

How about neither! They are both horrible ways to deal with a situation. But if someone was to do this, count your self lucky to get away while you can.

Diane said...

How long do you wait before you assume it's over when you never hear from someone again? With the advent of "instant" messaging, is it now 5 minutes? 5 days?

Never calling back is completely passive agressive - at least with a breakup (text or not), you can have a comeback (and yes, "I never liked you anyway" counts!)

Chelle, at what point did we take our relationship off-line? I know I still tell people about my favorite internet stalker!

Explosive Bombchelle said...

Diane, I think we took our relationship offline when we met for dinner in the DC area when we were both on projects there. It was almost assumed when I got assigned in your neck of the woods that we'd just be getting together weekly to catch up. Who knew 8 years later two crazy "knotties" would still be such good friends and have much more in common then just planning our weddings around the same time.

John said...

Holy cow Mother T.!
I'm a male and I've never done either of those things. However, I could provide a pretty long list of women who have done it to me if you'd like to take care of business!

As for your question, Michelle, I would have to say e-mail is better than not returning the phone call for the exact reason your sister stated. Not knowing when to move on is tough. That being said, both options suck pretty damn hard. I've never been notified by text, but that would be the worst option.

Mother T. said...

Dan and John,
Being the Mother of three daughters, I just naturally put the blame on the male species. I realize there are women guilty of the same thing and they too should be ashamed of themselves and their Mothers should smack them one. But I know my daughters are not guilty of that. I raised three compassionate and respectfull girls.

Explosive Bombchelle said...

Yes, I'm compassionate and respectful enough to call and thank the person for a nice date before dumping them. John, you and Amy could potentially pen an excellent he said/she said online dating manual.

Amy said...

Since I never formally commented on the blog (but praised you in person and over email!)...

On behalf of all of us who've been wronged by people who clearly display a lack of character and respect, thank you!

*mwah*

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