Stages Of Online Intimacy


First follow, then follow your heart.

  1. The follow establishes one’s presence in their target’s mind, as everyone scours their followers for attractive profile pics, while maintaining an innocuous, impersonal distance. A follow is followed by the followed clicking on the follower’s linked account, by which their location (i.e. feasibility) is assessed.
  2. The like is similar in capacity to online dating “winks”; unlike the “neutral” follow, the like may be interpreted as the inception of flirting, though such vagueness is its very allure. At this point, the courtship, if any, is not explicit; one should not jump to conclusions. The like may very well be in earnest (i.e. a non-flirtatious actual like).
  3. The comment is the first act of verbal communication by which personality, cultural orientation, and other relevant demographics are gathered via linguistic formation of the comment, and its vocabulary and vernacular. The comment is essentially a hyper-abridged resume offered by the solicitor. True, we are in the business of booty calls, but in a perfect world, we are subconsciously always looking for a mate.
  4. The friend is highly affective, as both parties now have access to the respective other’s photo album(s) and wall posts. Now they can stalk a bountiful array of erratic photos — a glimpse into their apartment, friends’ circles, vacations, drunken nights, dance techniques, etc. — projecting an abstract narrative about the other. Wearing romantic goggles, we rarely consider how these photo albums are highly edited, wherein only the most attractive photos are uploaded.
  5. The Email distinguishes itself by its very archaicness, and is used both earnestly and self-consciously as a symbolic form of commitment. Our couple has now successfully “transfered” their discourse to a more personal, almost sentimental platform. With, of course, implications of chatting. An email is, however technologically backwards, a huge step forward.
  6. The Chat is the most critical part of online intimacy, for it reveals as much of one’s true disposition as is possible online. With its “real time” interface and natural cadence of an actual conversation, assertions and responses cannot be crafted for rhetorical agenda; also, because of the casual and prosaic nature, accounts of the minutiae of one’s life may be inadvertently conveyed, and silently judged.
  7. The Text is a transcendental move, as the cell number required to text contains with it the formidable yet giddy implications of irl-imminence. Now our couple, at any time, are only fingertips away from meeting. The introductory texts should at first be casual, almost incidental (i.e. “spilled latte,” “larry king blows”), then, observing a 2-3 week time frame, more personal (“so depressed,” “thinking of u”). Your partner’s contact profile in your phone will be perceived in your pocket, emitting a cloud of warmth.
  8. Suggestive Pics formally communicates romantic or sexual availability. Somewhat obvious by now, it is still a necessary logistical measure, to confirm this ponderous long-standing booty call. The subject may be seen in her underwear and/or braless tank top. She may have just gotten out of the shower, the wet wisps of her hair flaying the room into a wound. She may be pouting, or halfway engaged in the consumption of a popsicle or banana.
  9. The Phone Call (optional) is preferred among the more conventional or romantic sort, who feel it necessary to “hear” the person, although the visceral manifestation of an actual voice may have an adverse affect, if that voice is particularly high-pitched, whine-y, or heavily imbued with an undesirable accent.
  10. The Vid Chat is not recommended. You will stare at the low resolution choppy screen with little to say, both your faces tinted greenish, grainy, and cadaver-like. This anti-climactic experience, in all its grim verity, may threaten by way of implication the irl one, so please don’t. Also, you’ll need to wear good clothes for this, and remove or obscure any perverse items visible in the background. This is a disaster waiting to happen.
  11. Explicit Pics (also known as “dick pics,” “tit pics,” “slutty pics,” or simply “ass”) is carnal currency on display, a bartering agreement, however disembodied from their naughty host(s). Severe lighting, perhaps portrayed by a sole bedside lamp, is recommended, as the sharp shadows will make male objects seem larger, and female contours more taut.
  12. The Sext, in its penultimate glory, not only confirms sexual intent, but asserts inclinations and boundaries. While “wanna bust my nut on u” may not be literal, the hypothetical recipient of busted nut has conceded to the possibility. And so, it begins with “wat u doing 2nite,” less of a question than a quest. He will answer “nothing,” the lack of itinerary implicitly the itinerary itself, filled some forty minutes later with a simple “here,” texted by this lover, the gauze of one night gentle over the slow abrasion of life, this manifestation of loneliness in the timeless form of a single human body, standing there, as a silent reprieve, her compulsive heart beating heavy, then suddenly lifted by hope, as he opens the door.

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image – Abby