Sunday, March 23, 2008

Invisible Relationships

Have you noticed lately that the term "seeing someone" is going out of style? I have. I feel like when I ask friends about budding relationships" So are you seeing each other?" The word "seeing" feels like an anachronism. My own answer when the script is flipped on me is "uh....what do you mean by seeing?" My friend Z used a good term recently when I asked her if she was dating a guy she met in "the Broken" aka Hoboken. She said "well, we're talking." Code for trading flirtatious emails and texts for up to a week in the pursuit of eventually meeting up to "see" if there are enough sparks to warrant an upgrade to unlimited texts for the month. Then realizing there are and trading texts/emails for another two weeks untill you decide to meet again.

To me these are invisble relationships. Defined as any relationship where more than 80% of the time you spend together is through texting, emails, Facebook and IM and the person lives within a 2 mile radius ( live calls don't count, they can be almost as panic inducing as a sober first date). That breaks down, in real world terms, to clocking about an hour of electro-comm per day but then only seeing the person once every two weeks for a block of about 2 1/2 hours-3 hours. Sound familiar? Please note: invisible relationships are not to be confused with booty calls. They are clearly more significant as your invisble suitor spends their daytime hours enjoying your company....over Instant Messenger and will even text you to "talk" about the lesbian drama on Iron Chef. It's almost like they are beside you on your couch, except you don't have to plea for them to hush until commercial breaks.

Some say its a more efficient mode of communication. Check out an excerpt from an IM conversation I had with my buddy Jay after he was ripping on me for enjoying songs like "Don't Go Chasing Waterfalls"...

Jay: you're all about "relationship music"
Jewels: i love 90s ballads...anything from the boomerang soundtrack is amazing, are we still friends?
Jay: not in public
Jewels: this is perfect for the blog topic I am working on, invisible relationships. ones that only exists via technology
Jay: ha, i've had relationships like that before. it's not so bad for awhile, especially if the other person is annoying
Jewels: valid then?
Jay: girls used to get mad at me since i only text (no phone), but more and more these days are fine with that
Jewels: is that a firm rule?
Jay: i've been text-only for probably 5 years now. i find the telephone an unsatisfactory medium, not as efficient as texting, not as robust as in-person
Jewels: do you date less traditional girls who would accept that?
Jay: nah, it just filters out girls who want to yap on the phone all the time and it allows me to compartmenatlize my quality time with them

So what is the net (besides the fact that Jay's declaration of being text-only sounds like a rehab program)? Seems like invisble relationships are more convenient physically and emotionally, allowing us to keep our mates at an arms length away. But I think it's also interesting to consider how invisible relationships can satisfy a need for longer term attachment. Afterall, "seeing" each other in the traditional sense also leads to no longer "seeing" each other. Maybe invisble relationships are ironically a way for us to keep people in our lives in a more prolonged or permanent way. I mean there is never a "need" to break-up; unless of course someone is passive aggresively "away from their computer" all day on AIM.

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