The E-lationship Phenomenon

16 10 2009



A good friend was telling me about her latest man troubles over coffee at Tryst the other day.  

…So I log onto facebook, and there are pictures splattered all over his page of him hanging on this other girl.  So I text him, “Who’s Caroline?” And he BBMs me this morning to say that we’re over, and that he didn’t realize we were ever dating in the first place because we’ve only actually seen each other in person like twice this month.  And I was like, well you clearly had plenty of time to see that bitch in person…

Now somehow, despite my immense corporate worth, no company has ever felt the need to buy me a Blackberry, so I had to ask what a BBM was.  Honestly, it sounds like a taboo bodily function.

BBM, she said, Blackberry Messenger.  Anyway, so I BBMed him back…


As her voice trailed off, my mind began to wander.  How many of us are conducting the majority of our relationships on-line without even realizing it?  

The “e-lationship,” defined as  a relationship conducted almost entirely through texting, e-mail, internet chat and social networking sites, is an ever-growing phenomenon in this new millennium.  It’s not all bad– divorcees and busy workers worldwide are finding love through, eHarmony and J-Date, which, if you ask me, is much better than trolling for men/women at bars. Facebook has allowed me to keep up with many friends with whom I would otherwise reluctantly lose touch, and let’s be honest– I really wouldn’t want to go back to life without texting.  A short “where r u?” is so much more effective sometimes than having to actually call the person, hope they’ll hear the phone ring, and do the whole, “Hi,” small talk, and “Bye” thing.  

Still, in terms of romantic relationships, I think much is lost in translation from person to the web.  So much of physical chemistry has to do with actually experiencing another’s physical presence.  Have you ever gotten to know someone online, developed a huge crush on them based on their cleverness and sense of humor, and then felt absolutely nothing when the relationship went “live”?  

I’ve been there.  We spent so much time chatting while he was at work and I was at the library that it felt like we developed real chemistry- he would say something funny over gchat, and I would actually giggle to myself and my face would turn pink in a room 2 miles away.  But every time I saw him in person, the whole thing went completely cold, and it had nothing to do with his looks.  He exuded some kind of confidence online that he didn’t exude in person, and I was put in the awkward position of having to tell him, in person, that it wasn’t going to work out for reasons I couldn’t put my finger on.  

Sometimes, the opposite holds true.  Two people get along great in person, but the sense of humor is lost over texting because you can’t see the person’s expression.  Like that time I called a boy “my sweet rotisserie chicken leg” in a text message and he never responded.  You see, he was weirded out because he didn’t realize I was joking, and I was weirded out because he didn’t get the joke.  This is why it’s so important to see someone’s face, hear their tone of voice, gauge the appropriate response. 

Cyber-stalking might be the biggest culprit of all. Through Facebook, Myspace, Linked In, online news sites and crazy invasive search engines, we can easily find out what a person looks like, where he works, where he lives, who he hangs out with and what kind of burrito he ordered at Chipotle last night without even meeting him.  I’ve googled a man before and found out the score of a baseball game he played when he was twelve.  Then I took a scalding shower, fasted for a month and promised myself I would never, ever cyber-stalk anyone again, because how creepy is that?  

I will never hate on internet dating (, eHarmony, etc.) because a lot of people I know have found real love that way.  But I do think that once you’ve met someone you like, it’s extremely important to make sure the majority of your interactions with him/her are in person.  

Otherwise you might pop out robot babies, terminator style, and they’ll take over the world.




6 responses

16 10 2009

I don’t understand why guys have their facebook set up so that others can view tagged pictures. This feature almost destroyed me.

16 10 2009

I too, have a fever, LB and have been huddled under a blanket watching old movies on TCM. Now here is a situation where you can see the actor, his eyes, hear his voice, watch his body movements but you dont know a thing, really, until you meet him in person Social networking you dont see these things until you actually meet him in person. But networking vs movies you can carry on a conversation and maybe get into his head, so to speak. I like the movies, tho, and take Cary Grant for instance, he could put his slippers under my bed any time – I knew I didnt have to meet him in person and maybe get put off by some physical problem like bad breath or body odor. You young people have a real problem here trying to sort out your relationships by the networks and then maybe being disappointed when meeting the person face on. Try the telephone first and hear his voice. Now there’s an idea. It might tell you something.

16 10 2009
19 10 2009

I like the closing line “might pop out robot babies, terminator style that may take over the world” Brilliant!

20 10 2009

I just want to preface this with the fact that I am in a very loving long-term relationship.

That said, if anyone has an extra 20 min. on their hands and wants to know something about themselves, take the personality/compatibility test on It is free and you don’t have to accept their matches or anything, but seriously, they are spot on. After 20 min, eHarmony knew more about me that most of my friends and family. It was kind of spooky and impressive at the same time.

Seeing who they think you should go out with is an excellent way to kill time when you are supposed to be working on a paper as well.

24 10 2009
Online in LA

Q: “Then I took a scalding shower, fasted for a month and promised myself I would never, ever cyber-stalk anyone again, because how creepy is that?”
A: Not creepy enough to stop us from doing it again almost immediately after we creep ourselves out the first time.

This phenomena is a seemingly bottomless pit of interest and discussion, because it is such a new and relatively unexplored territory for us as a culture. But one of the roots of all of it, in my opinion, is that while we desperately want to connect with other people, we find it harder and harder to do, and these electronic “connections” are sometimes the only ones we can find.

And aside from necessity you hit on something else when you write about how one can get to know someone so much better through corresponding with them online than by chatting them up in a bar. Except that, at the end of the day–and by that I literally mean the end of the day–we rather DO want someone to chat us up, often while drunk, and then take it from there.

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