Once upon a time when you stopped dating someone, that was that. Unless they were your neighbor, colleague or cable repair man, they were out of your life. Once in a while a crazy case of kismet meant you bumped into one another on the street or landed at the same party. Otherwise, past lovers and loves and random dates just went away.
Thanks to your smart phone, Facebook and online dating sites, that is no longer the case.
Cases in point:
Exhibit 1: A few weeks ago I revived a text from someone I went out with once last year. I was glad to hear from him — we are not an obvious match but we had a fun date and I felt a connection with him (so much so I had a dirty dream in which he starred, though, if you must know, our meeting was a chaste one).
If I were to guess, he was feeling bored and lonely and while scrolling through is iPhone contacts, my name rolled by and he got a glimmer of positive memory from our dinner, and gave a shout. I make that guess because I’ve been guilty of the same.
After a few weeks of texts in which he made no initiation to meet in person, I was reminded that he was prone to pen pal-ing and stopped responding.
But he still didn’t go away. Because Facebook recommended me to him as a “friend” (since its algorithms pull iMessage info from your computer, FYI!) and now we’re connected there and he’s all liking my posts. #buhbyealready
Exhibit 2: A few months ago I got an OKCupid message from someone I had communicated with there two full years ago. “Hey – how about we finally get that beer?” he quipped. I remembered immediately that we had set up a date, but in the final days before meeting we both flaked and that was that. Apparently my profile popped up on his dating feed, and we had a couple of really cute dates before I was the one who was ignored. #sadtrombone
Exhibit 3: One of the reasons I remember flaking on that guy was because I got distracted by a summer fling with a hot, Harley riding Sicilian electrician. I let that one go after a fun, casual summer, but he took it upon himself to subscribe to my blog newsletter, and sends a flirtatious email reply every time he sees my name in his inbox. The last one was: “You’re such a sexy feminist.”#alwaysmakesmesmile
Exhibit 4: I’ve had a few heartbreaks in my post-divorce dating, and each time we were connected online. Having the option to stalk your ex’s every online move throughout your work day is not helpful in moving on. Early on, my first post-divorce, heart-wrenching breaking involved both of us launching into blogging, where we each wrote about dating other people — while still sleeping with each other. A hot mess ensued, including irate mid-workday IMing sessions. #Imadethismistakesoyoudonthaveto
Exhibit 5: A year or so I went out with a fellow writer who I crossed paths with on both on OKCupid and Facebook. After a couple of dates that involved making out in the back of an MTA bus, and attending a burlesque show where he had a panic attack, it was clear it was not a fit and that was that. Except that recently I saw that he was writing for a new website, reached out to inquire via Facebook messenger where his dimpled mug often stares at me, and he generously made an editor intro. He also mentioned that he’s blogging about dating and I should expect to make an appearance in his column. #shitjustgotreal
Exhibit 6: Very early in my dating about 4 years ago, every single meeting was a huge deal involving plenty of pre-date online stalking. One guy made the unusual move of friending me on Facebook before our first date, and I took it upon myself to comb through his photos and figure out who is ex-wife was. I was dismayed to find an exceptionally beautiful, skinny and successful woman was the culprit. There was even a picture of her modeling leather pants in a fashion show — and not at the mall, but a real-life fashion show with professional photographers and too-beautiful people in the sidelines of the cat walk. On the singular date, when I stood to go to the ladies’ room, I was convinced the guy’s eyes lingered a fragment of a second too long on my squishy thighs squeezed into black jeans.
Flash-forward a few years and this very woman and I connect online on the basis that she launched a similar-slash-competing online venture. We get on the phone to talk business as people do (I told her immediately about how I know her ex and we had a laugh about the connection). In a twisted and ironic turn of digital events, my few interactions with her have made it clear she’s intimidated by my work. #thighenvyneutralized
Exhibit 7: One of my exes runs a growing online media site, and I see the content all over the place — including as a Facebook page share by another one of my exes. #meta
Exhibit 8: The random texts from unfamiliar numbers that read: “Hey, what’s up?” Presumably from guys who I met once and didn’t bother to enter into my contacts. Again: Bored and lonely and they’re scrolling through old messages. #guiltyofthesame
What’s your experience? Does dating in the digital age mean guys just never go away? Share in the comments!
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Emma Johnson is a veteran money journalist, noted blogger, bestselling author and an host of the award-winning podcast, Like a Mother with Emma Johnson. A former Associated Press Financial Wire reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Glamour, Oprah.com, U.S. News, Parenting, USA Today and others. Her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was named to the New York Post’s ‘Must Read” list.
Emma regularly comments on issues of modern families, gender equality, divorce, sex and motherhood for outlets like CNN, Headline News, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox & Friends, CNBC, NPR, TIME, MONEY, O, The Oprah Magazine and The Doctors. She was named Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web,” “Top 15 Personal Finance Podcasts” by U.S. News, and a “Most Eligible New Yorker” by New York Observer.
A popular speaker, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality. Read more about Emma here.