(Column originally published here.)
If the past week in the Internet has taught us anything, it’s that social media can really elevate an offline relationship.
But what if romance is involved and that carnal longing has been squelched? What happens to the cyber remains of the relationship?
Let’s give digital dumpings a whirl.
Several months ago, I met a person via Twitter. We started keeping up with each other — first retweets, then @replies and finally moved on to DMs. She connected with me on LinkedIn and then friended me on Facebook. We made casual contact — liking statuses and photos. We then took the next step to meet up in real life (IRL) for a casual drink, which turned into a dinner date.
After the first date we decided to meet up again, and the second date was a bust. I immediately lost interest. The physical chemistry was lacking. There was mild follow-up to confirm that I was not interested in meeting up again. We have not seen each other since the awkward second date with the awkward physical encounter.
I now find her tweets very irritating. They were not so irritating before but now they just seem so self-promoting, all about her work and boring. I do not follow many people and so her flood of boring/bullshit tweets are annoying.
What should I do? Just unfollow her? Is that mean?
I hate to hit it and quit it — or hit it and unfollow. The relationship started with social media. Should I end it there too? Is there a way to keep following people so they don’t know you deleted them but mute them somehow. Help!
- My Finger’s Hovering Over Unfollow
Friend, I think that mass of gray matter atop your neck is already telling you what to do. But I can’t blame you for wanting to hear it from another beating heart.
We’d be foolish if we didn’t admit that dating has become so damn complicated with the introduction of digital elements to the mix. We are connected in more ways than we’ve ever desired to people we barely know — or are just getting to know. Nowadays, you’re well-versed on your lover’s favorite pastimes and her odd penchant for liking shark photos on Facebook — all before you even plan your first date. How’s that for overly inflating a budding interest?
Or deflating one, as the case may be.
But why does the fact that you’re following her on Twitter or have befriended her on Facebook change the way you dump a dame?
Dating is dating, whether you’ve sexted or courted. No matter whether it started offline or online, what was once endearing and intriguing now makes you want to relocate and change your name. And you don’t have to put up with it.
You never want to see this person again. You have no use for this discarded diva in your life. You tried on the goods, left the tags on, and brought them back for a full refund. So why would you treat this breakup any differently than one that hadn’t started online?
The steadfast principles of dating are tried and true for a reason — across any medium, across any space-time continuum. Apply them.
How do you do that? Unfollow and unfriend her. Look, following or friending someone is a commitment, more or less — one which you’ve clearly decided you’re not interested in undertaking with her. Move forward free and clear of your past errors in judgment.
You aren’t obligated to take part in her life in perpetuity simply because you once found her captivating in 140 characters. Your level of interest has sunk to zero in real life. With the click of a mouse, it can — and should — do the same online. Especially if her commentary only serves to remind you of what you can no longer stand.
Is it mean? Perhaps. Was it mean when Billy didn’t ring Suzy after getting to second base at the drive-in during the prehistoric age of courtship? Probably. Was it mean to pretend Joey didn’t exist when Sally walked into the Peach Pit on the arm of the high school quarterback? I’m guessing so.
But was it necessary? Absolutely. Billy had to sever the ties with Suzy somehow. Joey had to get the hint that Sally wasn’t into him eventually. Ripping off the Band-Aid might not be the most humane response in the short run, but it’s the quickest and it’s the most effective. And it simply has to be done.
The beauty of social media is that the beginning and end are so finite — as opposed to the days when you sat around, hoping and hoping (and hoping) that your paramour would call or post an owl to show that he or she cared (and never did).
Use it to your advantage. Pull the plug — or, rather, push the button — once and for all, and clean your screen of that which you don’t want to have seen.
I don’t care if you follow or unfollow me. I won’t date you anyway. But I will give you good advice if you send a message to email@example.com, or get at me on Facebook or Twitter. Or put your tweets where your mouth is, and leave a question in the comments instead. I can’t promise I won’t dump you, but I will be impressed.