Sex and Tech: 12 Relationship Rules, from Facebook to Twitter
Should you exchange passwords? Update Facebook relationship status? Couples today face a host of unspoken rules about technology. Claire Howorth and Brian Ries speak with members of both sexes to figure out the etiquette.
The antiquated days of courtship are over. Romantic, uninterrupted dates over a candle and a plate of spaghetti are history.
Every man and woman in a modern relationship must navigate a complicated set of unspoken rules and etiquette for technology. Is it OK to tweet from the dinner table? Can one go online while the other watches TV? To find out, The Daily Beast's Claire Howorth and Brian Ries spoke with people in various stages of relationships about the sensibility of sharing passwords, the importance of the Facebook relationship status, and the ignorance of checking the phone after sex.
In our list, we present 12 common situations where technology has wormed its way into our lives, introduce the rules we should live by, and get the scoop from both sexes.
Follow these, and we'll all get along just fine.
1. SITUATION: Exchanging Passwords
RULE: Bad idea, period. Yes, some couples seem to be fine with using a mutual Facebook account (that's weird, people) or, less harmlessly, the same computer with all its cookies and search histories. But sharing passwords is the Pandora's box of technology and relationships.
GUYS SAY: "My wife and I both have passwords on our phones. It's mostly to protect in case they are stolen, and I trust her completely, but people don't need to have total access to every detail about each other."
GIRLS SAY: "I had an old boyfriend's email password, which he'd given to me so I could help him with some work remotely, and I ended up abusing it and reading his emails. He wasn't doing anything bad, but I felt guilty. And crazy."
2. SITUATION: Facebook Relationship Status
RULE: To each his own, but don't bother everyone with your constantly changing heart icon.
GUYS SAY: "I think physically updating the status before you say 'I love you' is OK, but don't think Facebook should be a huge part in the relationship."
GIRLS SAY: "I have been with my boyfriend for two years, and I feel pretty secure in our relationship, but I have never put 'single' or 'in a relationship' on my profile. I guess it's fine to know, but personally it just doesn't seem necessary to state, unlike my favorite quote."
“It makes my blood curdle to think about some chick writing about me on a blog.”
3. SITUATION: Sharing Google Documents & Calendars
RULE: It's OK to share documents, but hold off on a shared calendar until you're solidly in a relationship.
GUYS SAY: "I don't share my calendar, and I can't imagine a need to share it. Just tell each other what you have on the plate."
GIRLS SAY: "We balance our household budget on Google spreadsheets, but we don't share calendars. He doesn't need to see my gynecologist appointments."
4. SITUATION: Gchat Status
RULE: Busy, Available, Invisible—use caution! You should only be visible to contacts with whom you have a substantial relationship, friendly or romantic.
GUYS SAY: "I am always invisible. The few times I've gone green, girls from the past pop out of the woodwork and chat me up, which can be fun, but is usually just awkward."
GIRLS SAY: "I always play the Gchat-mindfuck game: Stay visible to see who chats with me. But when I'm in a relationship, I stay visible anyway. After all, you don't have to chat with anyone you don't want to! If someone is bothering me, I make myself 'busy' or block them."
5. SITUATION: Checking In on Foursquare
RULE: It really depends on how out there you want to be.
GUYS SAY: "If I'm not dating anyone, or I'm dating one person exclusively, I am fine with Foursquare—you can disclose where you are with impunity. But if a relationship is ambiguous or there's more than one person in the picture, I keep a low profile."
GIRLS SAY: "I always try to beat him, so it's acceptable to check in to Foursquare. I also wouldn't mind if it was a first date, because it would show he's kinda savvy."
6. SITUATION: Blogging About the Relationship
RULE: Just remember that you can't erase or take back what you put out on the Internet. Never write about personal moments, or post private pictures.
GUYS SAY: "It makes my blood curdle to think about some chick writing about me on a blog."
GIRLS SAY: "I think everyone has heard stories about sad, miserable, melodramatic, really publicly blogged-about relationships, which wouldn't seem so bad if [the details] didn't live on in perpetuity. Can you imagine your kids growing up and Googling you, to discover some old failure of a boyfriend you hardly remember?"
7. SITUATION: Browsing the Web While Watching TV
RULE: Don't pull up Facebook while you're watching TV together. But if one person's channel surfing and the other's disinterested, go right ahead and browse.
GUYS SAY: "I like to see the other person's reaction while watching TV. If it's something I'm really into, I like to see her reaction, because I want her to enjoy it."
GIRLS SAY: "If there's a show or a movie that I really think he would like, and we're watching it together, and he starts surfing the Internet, I'm like, 'Fuck this.' I get pissed, but if we're casually flipping through channels, then it's OK."
8. SITUATION: Checking the Phone After Sex
RULE: Wait for the afterglow to dissipate—and the pants to go on—before you pick up the phone after sex.
GUYS SAY: "It depends on the situation. I've been with girls who are very fast at checking messages. I think everything's changed. The canoodling is made more abrupt because she's checking her BlackBerry from a friend about wanting to go to an art gallery opening."
GIRLS SAY: "He should at least have his pants on because that means the canoodling is over—usually after five minutes or once things have worn down. If he's checking the score of the game after we've had sex, I get pissed! He's also not allowed to call his parents, sister, or any family member for at least 20 minutes, and he has to be fully clothed."
9. SITUATION: Phones on a Dinner Date
RULE: Whether you're texting a friend or replying to your boss' email, one thing's clear: Make it quick. Nobody wants to sit there playing with their soup while the other's tweeting at Ashton Kutcher.
GUYS SAY: "If she's texting at the table, and it goes on for more than 30 seconds, I'm going make a comment about it, like, 'What are you doing?'"
GIRLS SAY: "It's rude to send work emails when we're at dinner because he's not disconnecting from his job and he's not focusing on me. But if he's texting about plans with mutual friends for later that evening, it's OK. But if you're on a first or second date, then there should be no texting, no tweeting."
10. SITUATION: Reading the News in Bed
RULE: It's OK to read the iPad or check Twitter while you're lying together in bed, but don't feign interest in her with fake "uh-huh's" or "mm-hmms."
GUYS SAY: "My brain can't really process her voice and The New York Times at the same time, for some reason, so I find myself pretending to be listening when I'm not."
GIRLS SAY: "Don't act like you are paying attention to a conversation when you're really reading the news on the iPad."
11. SITUATION: Making Group Plans over Email
RULE: Always include your significant other on the email thread when making group plans with mutual friends.
GUYS SAY: I usually try and CC her in if she's not on the original email thread, 'cause sometimes I stumble into a weekend of apple picking and—unbeknownst to me—she's been left out of the loop.
GIRLS SAY: "It's frustrating when I wasn't on the email chain and then a friend assumes I'm aware of whatever it is we're doing that weekend!"
12. SITUATION: Inviting Friends to a Facebook Event
RULE: If you live with your significant other and you're having a party with mutual friends, the apartment is "ours."
GUYS SAY: "I got a scolding email once—sent with love—reminding me the apartment was "ours" after I had invited friends over. She usually winds up doing most of the hosting work anyway, so it's only right that I give her the credit for living there."
GIRLS SAY: "One time he invited all our friends to a party at, in his words, 'my apartment.' It's my house, too!"
Brian Ries is tech and social media editor at The Daily Beast. He lives in Brooklyn.
Claire Howorth is the Arts editor at the Daily Beast.