On The Subject Of These Alleged Online Relationship "Rules"

Illustration for article titled On The Subject Of These Alleged Online Relationship "Rules"

They're weird, right? I mean, listen to this madness, from today's WSJ:

Writes Elizabeth Bernstein,

We need new rules now. How about these? You can look, but don't make contact. Strike an agreement with your current partner that you will each disclose any Facebook friends you have slept with. Or, like Katie Robinson, limit your online "friends" to people of the same sex. "It is hard enough to have a relationship without the intrusion of people from your past," says Ms. Robinson, a 33-year-old artist in Memphis, Tenn. Some couples share their passwords. "If your bank accounts are common, why not your Twitter and Facebook accounts?" asks Clemson Smith Muñiz, a Spanish-language sports announcer in New York. Sound scary? Mr. Smith Muñiz discovered one of the drawbacks when he checked his Twitter following-which he spent months trying to build-and discovered an alarming trend: It kept shrinking.
At first, he worried that people found him boring and were dropping out. He tried harder to be clever, "tweeting" about Cuban baseball players and his dental problems. He even pleaded for readers: "Follow me and I'll follow you." Then he discovered his problem: his wife."She told me she was going on my account and taking off women she thought were coming on to me," says Mr. Smith Muñiz, 51. She didn't care if they were old girlfriends or porn stars. "She said she doesn't want temptation to be there," he says. (His wife declined to be interviewed.)

Wait, what? This is weird, right? Look, I admit to being somewhat lax in these matters (the one concession I've ever demanded was that a boyfriend not friend a one-night stand with whom he'd cheated on me) but I can't help but wonder: when do rules start to rule you? (Yes, that took a few minutes' thought.) All-female friends? Secret un-following? Hell's no. That's sacred. Trivial and pointless, perhaps, but sacred in some sort of modern irreligious way. Granted, this piece deals exclusively with Boomers who all seem overly involved with the newly-discovered gadgetry and don't share our tacit reluctance to appearing cyber-desperate ("Follow me and I'll follow you?") But seriously, is this a thing? And not just amongst those weird couples who seem to get off on the delusion that their partners are wildly desirable and everyone's constantly hitting on them? I'd always understood these sites to be more-or-less public information; as such, hasn't enough personal editing gone on that more isn't required? And as for those threatened by the presence of exes - well, better the evil you know, surely? As one more cynically-minded friend put it, "it's not like you'll be able to friend them yourself!"

That said, I know reading about cracked fillings in 140 or fewer has me hitting "Direct Messages" every time, so maybe she has a point.

When Old Flames Beckon Online [Wall Street Journal]

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My boyfriend un-friended his ex on Facebook after they broke up. Over the last year, she has made several attempts to re-friend him, often accompanied by messages suggesting things like he and I having a drink with her and her boyfriend. He has continued to decline them. The most recent one, he asked me whether or not he should accept it, and I'll admit, the fact that she made a point to tell him that she was now single made me tell him "no no a thousand times NO."