Pseudorelationships, Availability and Accessibility

LOL, I love having long heartbreaking conversations with you via text.

I get that we live in a texting/tweeting culture, but I’m not sure how partnership is going to work for me if this is the future.

A huge benefit to being a happy single lady is that I have my freedom to do as I please. But one of the drawbacks is that I sometimes end up limiting that freedom by somehow meandering into situations that look a lot like relationships, sound a lot like relationships and take up all of the psychological energy of a relationship in real life. But I’m still single. Because they are not actually really relationships. They are emotional affairs orchestrated almost entirely remotely.

Has this happened to you?

My first indication this might be a thing popped up a couple of years ago.

I met a guy I really liked. We spent some time together in real life, but most of our communication was public. Basically, he only wanted to connect with me on Twitter.

No email. No texting. 140 characters, 24/7.

Lest I be labeled one of those impossibly demanding women with unreasonably high standards, I endured this way of communicating via direct message for way longer than I probably should have. Because I love Twitter and social media. I enjoy interacting with my friends and making new friends online.

That said, sometimes I need to log out. Because I’m not a Twitter bird. I’m human. (But I do think it’d be great to have my very own #fail whale.)

More than that, even though I had access to Twitter guy all the time, he was basically unavailable. I could always contact him, I could never really connect with him in any meaningful way.

Later, I reconnected with an old flame online. He is online a lot. I am online a lot (except when I’m writing, so that I can actually put some sentences together that don’t use LOL, OMG – you know, little stuff like that).

Well, he was accessible all day long. I could always reach him for a funny video or a shallow conversation. But he was also unavailable. Talk of feelings, the future, fears, love, intimacy never happened except in the confines of texting. I told him that I needed a dynamic that allowed for full expression of all of my feelings. He proceeded to suggest I was dumping him, which was news to me, because we weren’t in an actual relationship.

And yet, it made total sense, because part of what makes dating difficult these days is navigating the way you communicate with the people you want to get closer to and foster intimacy with without completely compromising your identity in the process. Ideally, independent people who are also heavily networked can also find ways to interact with each other and be fully present with one another.

But is it pessimistic to wonder if that’s even still possible now or does it just take extra effort?

10 thoughts on “Pseudorelationships, Availability and Accessibility

      • Yes and no — not sure if we are on the exact same wavelength, but here is what I thought while reading your post. Chatting via txt messaging, FB chat, and emails seems to be having a larger and larger impact on “normal, healthy relationships”. I think the ability to “remove” your physical self from a conversation has enabled people to say things to others that they normally wouldn’t say in person. In some cases harming healthy relationships by engaging in a “relationship” with another via electronic means and withdrawing oneself. And in others parties misconstruing electronic communique as a “relationship”.

        hmmm… in my head it makes sense, I hope I was able to convey my thoughts well enough.

  1. Yes, that’s exactly what I was referring to, although I didn’t even really think about the “normal, healthy” relation aspect until you mentioned it. It’s interesting to think about the physical self and the virtual/emotional self as different. I think maybe that’s another drawback of technology, actually, that it divides the self – there is the online persona or representative and then there’s the real life person. Sometimes they’re very similar but (more often?) sometimes they are not.

    • Textual communications like Twitter, Facebook, texting, and email lack important emotional cues like voice tone, body language and facial expressions. Reading these let us know what others feel.

      Years ago, doing IT support for a university, I was willing to answer simple questions by email. Medium difficulty resulted in a phone call. Hard difficulty would warrant an in-person visit. I found trying to do it all via email just made others frustrated at me. I also found even a few in-persons and phone calls meant later medium and hard inquiries could be just handled by email. Somehow they short circuited whatever normally made people not like me. (Personally, I meeting me in person gave them a view into my personality so that when they read my emails they could read it in my voice rather than some abstract something and read between the lines that I meant something in a nice way.)

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