My friend Shoshanna got on her computer one day and went right to her favorite site, Myspace. She started cruising around looking at her friend's profiles, and in the process noticed her ex-boyfriend had a new picture.
Without thinking of the potential consequences, she clicked on his profile to get a closer look. She scrolled down on the screen to read comments his friends wrote about him. Then she noticed that her ex had changed his status from "single" to "in a relationship."
We've all done it. You have a brief lapse in reason, and check up on an ex to find out if he or she is seeing someone new when you didn't really want to know. It doesn't matter if you broke up two months ago or two years ago.
You can't tell if it's the fact that you are finding out your ex is serious enough with someone else that he or she actually made the effort to change his or her status online for all eyes to see, or if maybe you're not as over him or her as you thought.
It doesn't matter. Looking at the profile of an ex online is toxic, but it is as unavoidable as not being able to stop eating your favorite food if it's placed right in front of you. Once you've found out that your ex is seeing someone new, stop there. You know you can keep probing, but you're probably going to feel even worse when you read the new girlfriend or boyfriend's entire profile.
Before the explosion of social network services - Friendster.com, Myspace.com, Facebook.com - finding new info on an ex usually required some digging. You had to call a mutual friend or drive by his favorite hang-out to see if he's got a new girl on his arm. Today, you can find out what an ex is up to with a few clicks on the Internet.
'I Am Taken!'
But what does the status online really mean? Does "in a relationship" mean the same as "boyfriend" or "girlfriend?" Does it make your relationship more serious because you are telling the world (or, in Myspace's case, 76,521,558 people - the number of people currently available in my network) "I am taken!"
Looking at an ex's profile can easily become a big deal because you remember how much it hurt to change your status back to "single" after your last break-up. You start thinking about why your relationship with your ex didn't work out in the first place. But allow yourself just a day or two to be in a rut; after that, persuade yourself to get over it.
As painful as knowing your ex is now taken, think of it as closure. Don't waste energy trying to figure out ways you are better than his or her new significant other. Make yourself realize that he or she has moved on, and that it's time for you to do the same.
The entire online scenario becomes even more of a big deal because there are only two options to choose to reveal your relationship status. Unless you are a swinger, divorced or married, you can choose from "single" or "in a relationship." There's really no room for ambiguities.
Online, there is usually no other dating terminology, such as "we're just hooking up," "it's casual" or "undecided," although Friendster does have "it's complicated." But who would actually want to put that? Wouldn't it be easier if you could just leave the field blank?
Unfortunately, that usually isn't an option. It's back to the days of you're together or you're not. If you are in a gray area, it's more than likely your status will stay single online until your relationship gets more serious.
Having the "where are we?" conversation is scary enough, but to have to bring up the status of your relationship online can be even more challenging. For many people, the thought of altering your status in either direction can cause some anxiety.
My friend Hannah got both conversations out of the way at the same time. Hannah and Marc had been dating for a few months. It was obvious to both that they really liked each other. Hannah was only seeing Marc, but she wanted to clarify that Marc only wanted to see her. Marc told her to change her status online to "in a relationship."
Now, Hannah knew where the two of them stood in cyberland and in her head. But what if he told her to keep her status single, or that he didn't feel comfortable changing his? What kind of message does that send?
Think about it for a second. If you're discussing the status of your relationship online and tell your significant other to keep it single, understand that even if you say you don't want to date other people, you're sending a mixed message. The very fact that the person is asking means he or she cares, and if you care, change your profile to help make him or her feel more secure.
The Internet has changed and extended the possibilities of dating in almost every way possible. It has brought back the blind date through matchmaking services, but more realistically, it has allowed us to keep track of everyone we ever dated or even anyone you've ever known!
If you look hard enough, you can find a childhood friend or crush who lives across the country or even the world. Just make sure that when you find out a new piece of information about an ex that you're strong enough to handle it.