One friend furiously edits her Facebook page when a man she likes accepts her friend request.‘I don’t bother to use Facebook the rest of the time, but when someone interesting pops up I’m all over it, uploading flattering pictures, subjecting my friends to a barrage of witty status updates.’ As Voyer explains, ‘People are increasingly constructing two identities – their online identity, and their offline identity.’ He points to Twitter in particular, saying that ‘new ways of interacting have widened the gap between our actual selves – who we actually are – and our “ought” selves – who we think other people want us to be.’ So, proper, honest, face-to-face communication is key. ’ ‘We’re friends – you’re my friend.’ At this point, I’d been sleeping with this man for…All week we’d been texting, messaging and emailing. If, like me, you’re a ‘millennial’ (born between 19) you will have never known adulthood – or adult relationships – without a mobile phone. Instead of dating (an American term anyway) we might be ‘seeing someone’, ‘having a thing’, ‘hooking up’. ) let the rest of the world into our online world with gay abandon: you’d like to see 50 pictures of me on a bikini on the beach? If they’re keen, you’ll see each other; if not, they’ll plead prior plans. But at least one of you can end up feeling confused.
Actually phone someone up to ask them out and agree on a date at some point in the future and put it in my diary? We have more visual and audio cues to help us form an impression of someone.’ Of course endless texting will never offer the same insight into someone’s personality as even a single face-to-face conversation.The I-don’t-know-what-is-going-on phase of a proto-relationship can continue far longer now.I’m not sure we’d have got together if we’d met randomly in a bar – if I hadn’t already known he was a nice guy, there would have been nothing to separate him from some random bloke trying it on.’ My current problem is less about the new men in my life and more about the men who just won’t leave it.Occasionally, I’ll see someone once or twice, then decide they’re not for me.I’m finding it hard to get too worked up about this just yet.
At 29, I’m very happy with my life – it’s fun and fulfilling and I rarely feel lonely.
Unfortunately, for a generation practically weaned on telecommunication devices, person-to-person communication is not exactly our strong suit – as evidenced by a stand-up argument I recently had with a man I was seeing. well, far longer than I care to admit; yet most of our communication was via text message or drunken conversations at the end of the night.
We were having a drink in the pub when I referred to him, to his face, as my boyfriend. In retrospect, it was clear that our ‘relationship’ was no such thing, that he wasn’t willing to give me what I wanted and deserved.
‘I’ve met a few guys that way – it’s much easier to take a risk because you can pass it off as banter if you get rejected. We started messaging each other and, eventually, I invited him to a night out I was already going to.’ For Anna, the constant tweeting and messaging took the stress out of the first date.
‘It felt more like fourth-date territory when we met.
In a world where we can stay in touch with anyone we ever meet, indefinitely, it’s easy for quality control to go.