Electronic communication can both help and hurt a relationship. On one hand, it encourages constant communication and may make you feel closer to one another. On the other — this constant communication may make you feel suffocated.This happened recently to one of my friends. She started seeing a new guy, and intentionally only gave him her phone number — no email address, no Twitter handle, no AIM screen name. She wasn't trying to hide anything, she was just trying make sure things progressed slowly. After a few weeks and a very brief exchange over Gmail — bam! — there he was in her list of Gchat contacts. She didn't think about it until the next day at work when, with the familiar "ding" that accompanies a new message, a "hi!" from her guy.
"I am not ready to Gchat!" she complained to me (via, of course, Gchat). I told her to ignore the Gchat window long enough that her name would display as idle, and then to either log out or turn on the "invisible" option — a quick fix for the moment, but by no means a permanent solution.
She's not the only friend of mine this has happened to. After including her instant messenger name (that she uses for work) on her Facebook profile, one friend was attacked with a flurry of instant messages from someone she was casually dating. So, how do you prevent a new date from e-stalking? That's what I'll cover on this edition of Tech Dating 101. To read the advice I gave to her,
As silly as it may sound, I think it's better to set boundaries early, especially if one or both of you has a job that requires you to be available via phone, IM, email all day. So set rules, boundaries, whatever you have to do. Just because you're available to your boss and co-workers all day doesn't mean you have to make yourself available to everyone else in your life. If you prefer he doesn't chat you up via Gchat or AIM throughout the day, tell him that. Just explain your decision, and make it clear you're not hiding anything — you prefer to talk at certain hours of the day (like when you're off the clock), or you'd rather limit your communication to phone calls and text messages, with the occasional email. (If he's really not getting the message, you could always try adding this link to my advice on how not to virtually stalk someone as your status message, though I recommend that only as a last resort.)
Initially, my friend set her status to "invisible" so he couldn't find her online, which worked fine until she messaged him one afternoon and he responded with, "You're online?" She was totally busted — which is why I'd advise someone in a similar situation to address it, not ignore it.
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