XXX Chats

To my mind, I was never that pitiful caricature of a desperate woman, waiting by the telephone for him to call; we texted, Facebooked or emailed every day. Anna Williams, a 29-year-old writer, met her boyfriend on Twitter.

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.Yet even without an official ‘boyfriend’ there are normally several text conversations with potential beaus buzzing away on my phone.I also tend to have a few guys on a low-level stalk on Facebook, and there’s always that frisson of excitement when an attractive man retweets one of my ‘LOLz-ier’ status updates. I wasn’t the only one of my girlfriends to leave early that night. Strange then, I realised recently, that I have rarely been properly on my own.I haven’t lived with a boyfriend, introduced anyone to my parents, or been on a mini-break.‘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…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.Yet it’s so easy to get carried away with texting or instant messaging.Having just counselled a friend through an ambiguous ‘relationship’ characterised by furious text conversations and the occasional meet-up, I then found myself helping another friend decide what to wear when she met up with a man whose activities she’d been obsessively following on Facebook for months. ‘It wasn’t as thrilling as I’d hoped it would be…’ admitted my friend afterwards.I am not in a relationship – or in what someone 20 years older than me would consider a relationship – yet rarely am I definitively single. Our vocabulary is straining as much as we are to encompass the world of modern dating. Recently The New York Times questioned whether traditional courtship was over, and whether ‘hanging out’ had replaced ‘dating’. Last Friday night I met four girlfriends for drinks after work. We’d met at a mutual friend’s party around Christmas, and had seen each other a couple of times since with friends. We follow the new rules as assiduously as they do, are just as uneasy about being pinned down, just as likely to be the texter as the textee. Why make a phone-call or suggest a date when you can send a non-committal text that merely dangles the possibility of meeting?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.

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