THIS wasn't love or "friends with benefits." It was somewhere in between the two, minus anything remotely resembling love or, for that matter, friendship. We were, to use a term I've always found creepy, lovers.
He was a fan of "social networking" websites such as Friendster and My Space. He had, in fact, originally asked me out through Friendster -- though only because an e-mail he sent to my regular address never arrived (a sure sign that the universe had at least made an attempt to protect me).
The entire time we were dating, he seemed to log onto Friendster nearly every day to add photos or captions or new favorite songs -- something I swear I wouldn't have noticed if Friendster didn't regularly send out cheerful e-mails announcing such developments. Bulletin: Death Cab for Cutie now makes his favorite music section. His constant attention to his Web profiles put me in the tenuous position of being able to take his emotional temperature in the third person -- a weirdly "outside" inside view of the relationship.
This hit home on the day, some time between when we met and started sleeping together, that he altered his answer to "Who I Want to Meet." He expressed desire for attributes I did not possess -- a pretty singing voice, good taste in wine. Finding out that he longed for a cyber girl with skills one might find on an average resume was quite a blow. And not terribly subtle.
The next guy I went out with mentioned the MySpace Top 8 (if you don't know what that is, I sincerely congratulate you on having a life) on our first date; by the second, he'd moved me onto his. When, on our third date, he asked me when we should change our respective status to "in a relationship," I told him it was too soon, but the next time I logged onto MySpace, I saw that he had made the move. Simultaneously flattered and pressured, I upgraded my own box within days.
Unfortunately, our Internet claims turned out to be premature, and I found myself breaking things off with my MySpace relationship partner within weeks of having announced it to the 76,509,622 people in my network. Then I was faced with an undeniably modern dilemma: What was the appropriate amount of time to wait before proclaiming myself single again?
It seems like you can't turn on the television without seeing an eHarmony commercial featuring two made-for-each-other looking people clutching one another giddily, or go to a dinner party without hearing about some friend of a friend who met the greatest guy or girl on Friendster or MySpace or Nerve or JDate or fillintheblank. com. But my experiences led me to wonder if this revolutionary social tool is actually making the dating process even crueler than it already is.
Did I really need to know that the guy I was seeing was out advertising for my replacement while continuing to sleep with me? Did the one who'd been so ready to claim me in his inner circle of eight (and then his inner circle of two) really need to see how quickly I could expunge him from my cyber world?
That's not even taking into consideration all our exes, who are surely sprouting up on those websites by the nanosecond. Must we experience the horror of seeing who's happily in another relationship -- complete with photo of said happy couple -- or even worse, married?
I'm probably not a good person to ask. After all, I waited only 24 hours before declaring myself single again, figuring that while I was making My Space my own again, I might as well demote him from my Top 8.
I can only hope that the next guy I meet is a Luddite.
Anna David can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.