Before I even begin, allow me to preface this tale with one simple phrase: I am an idiot.
Furthermore, I do not condone any of the actions that were taken on my part in the following tale – they were wrong, overdone, and to be perfectly honest, positively, entirely dramatic. However, what else do you expect from an eighteen-year-old high school student? With that said, the best thing that has ever come out of the following events is the fact that I am now getting paid to tell it.
If you don’t get anything else out of this article, at least get this: don’t do what I did.
Gosh, if I could go back, I’d smack myself around or something. Throw myself off a bridge. Hit myself in the face with a potato. I don’t know.
My friends, to be clear, I am the psycho ex that your wife recalls from high school. I am the guy that your sister avoids at each and every class reunion. I am also the reason that your girlfriend gets uncomfortable whenever the topic of prom comes up.
I am Taylor Swift’s worst nightmare.
However, at the same time, I’m one of the lucky ones. A great deal of my high school break-up was handled via electronic means. Most things on the Internet don’t go away, but in my case, they fortunately did. Granted, because adding a few extra dollars to my bank account seemed attractive, I decided to sell my soul to Erez, our Story Ideas editor, and bring it all back. I also felt as though I could share my wisdom about how healing a broken heart works in the digital age.
Let’s do this.
A Match Made In Hell
At the beginning of my sophomore year of high school, I met this girl. For all intents and purposes of the article (and to protect the names of the innocent), we’ll call her Janis.
She was exactly five feet tall, occasionally wore her hair in two bobs – kawaii-style, and had an attitude that was both attractive and biting at the same time. From what I gather, her favorite decade was the nineties, and her top band was Blink 182. Throughout the course of our relationship, I often found myself competing with a Travis Barker poster that was on her wall (which was in between one of Robert Pattinson as Edward Cullen and a shirtless Hugh Jackman as Wolverine).
The girl was also a MySpace kid – in fact, that was where we had our first interaction. She was an incoming freshman, and she added me for two reasons: 1) she was trying to find new friends to meet at the high school, and 2) I’m a smoking hot stud of a man when you take Barker and Jackman out of the picture (Cullen doesn’t count).
One of those statements is true.
This is where I should mention Lesson #1 of Lockhart’s Digital Dating: “Don’t fall in love with a girl that you have only spoken to while online.”
It’s simple stuff, folks. I’m sure that there are success stories with OKCupid (and even World of Warcraft of all things), but in most situations – not all – it’s very difficult to see if you are a good match for someone when the only interaction you have had with them is online. There’s something to be said for the human-to-human experience.
Granted, we had seen each other in person, but due to our mutual shyness around members of the opposite sex, we would only wave at each other in the hall. Five times a week we’d see each other, and five times a week we would wave at each other. However, we would chat all night on MySpace – good Lord we would chat it up.
Needless to say, this was getting to be a bit much. MySpace IMs do not make a relationship. It was at this point that our mutual friends – who knew we had the hots for each other – felt as though it was time for us to finally speak in person. What they did was arrange for us to all to go on a group date to the theater to see a movie. Great idea, right?
The Phone Call
I didn’t go. I chickened out. I was scared. Granted, one of my friends – we’ll call him Andy – insisted that I still speak to the girl, so I decided to call her that night. After having an awkward explanation of who I was to her stepmother – we’ll call her Satan – I finally spoke to her. Our conversation was brief.
“Hey,” I said.
“Hi,” she responded.
“So, what’s up?”
“I’m sorry, I can’t hear you.”
“Nothing much. You?”
“Oh. Nothing. Do you want to be my girlfriend?”
“Okay. Well that’s cool. Guess I’ll see you at school tomorrow.”
Do you see how smoothly that panned out? That’s a top quality seduction technique, my friends. I didn’t have to do anything except ask her “What’s up?”, and that girl was mine. There are men who struggle with even getting a first date, and here I was – at the age of FIFTEEN – just fighting the ladies off.
But really, this was entirely flawed.
My friends, do yourself a favor and get to know someone before you make such a commitment. Sure, her
MySpace Facebook profile picture may be cute, but her personality may not match well with yours. Janis and I were both great people, but as the years (three of them, to be exact) flew by, we came to understand that we just weren’t a good fit for each other at the time. We were able to ignore this fact by distracting ourselves with garage make-out sessions and… well, that’s pretty much all we did.
This brings up Lesson #2 of Lockhart’s Digital Dating: “If you do meet online, try to hang out a few times before you make any rash decisions.”
What made it even more awkward was when her parents once asked me how we met.
I could have easily said, “Oh, well we are both on student government association together,” (which we were), but instead, I blurted out that we had met online. Not only did that make me look like a creepy basement freak, it made it look like we had met on an online dating site – something that’s normally reserved for adults and not teenagers.
I know that most of you who are reading this are adults, but just take this into consideration whenever your own children bring home a new love interest. Sometimes kids are awkward. However, I still say that you shouldn’t ever tell anyone that you met online. People tend to jump to conclusions, and these conclusions tend to involve mail-order brides, Craigslist casual encounters, and escort services.
Three years flew by. We grew close, and then we grew apart. We grew close again, and then we grew further apart. Granted, I’m describing our first week of dating, but I suppose the same could be said for the remainder of the three years as well. Throughout these three years we broke up once, got back together, and for at least half of it, I was a jerk. That’s another article for another time at another website, though.
My senior year, she announced that she wanted to go to prom. However, she wanted to go to prom with a group. Admittedly, this was not my idea of a good time. After all, I had garage make-out sessions to attend to, and this would be incredibly difficult to make happen with ten other people around. But oh well, right? You have to do what you have to do.
I must also add that things had been tense between us up until this point. I was about to graduate, and we were both discovering that we were two very different people with very different lifestyles. Things could set us off at any moment, and while neither of us were bad people, we were very ugly when put together.
As the weeks got closer to prom, she sent me a text: “We’re going to prom on a bus.”
It wasn’t a party-bus with cool lights and a locked-up mini-bar, and it also wasn’t a charter bus with fancy televisions and luxury seating. It was her sister’s boyfriend’s uncle’s ratty old yellow school bus. The prom crew and her (which I didn’t fancy being associated with) intended on decorating it with streamers and balloons, and I – being such a “classy” kid – decided I didn’t want to do this.
Lesson #3 of Lockhart’s Digital Dating: “Don’t fight with your significant other via SMS (or chat, or email, or anything).”
She was stubborn. I was stubborn. We both proceeded to butt heads, and I wouldn’t have her ruining MY prom with a trashy school bus. I refused to budge, and she refused as well. Years later I discovered that they didn’t even use the bus – apparently one of the prom party’s crazy exes ruined things for them. Wonder who?
What I Did
Here’s Lesson #4 of Lockhart’s Digital Dating: “Don’t do anything that I’m about to say.”
My first plan of action was to spark an SMS fight between her friends, her sister, and her. The friends stayed out of it, the sister called me immature (I was), and she let me have it with a variety of choice words. Her final text to me said this: “I’m done.”
In the heat of the moment, I interpreted this as, “I’m breaking up with you.”
The events over the next month played out very slowly – like a slow-motion montage in a film, of sorts. Allow me to explain. The first thing I did was immediately go onto my Facebook account and change my relationship status. I did it in a fit of rage, and admittedly, this was a bit silly. The next thing I did? Oh geez. You’re going to hate me for this.
I messaged another girl – right after this break-up – and asked her out on a date. Dude, it worked, too. Man. We went out two days after this break-up, and the whole time I was like, “I am so pimp.”
I wasn’t. I didn’t realize it at the time, but most of our conversations on that date were about my now-ex, and I looked a great deal like Ross from Friends whenever Rachel broke up with him. This relationship didn’t last long. I think it lasted like a day, actually.
Over time, I noticed that Janis would appear on my Facebook news feed quite often. So I unfriended and blocked her. Then when I found out she had begun dating someone else, I blocked all of her friends. They knew it, too, and I would occasionally receive weird looks in the hallway at school. Once, in the midst of my self-loathing sessions, I – and I cringe as say this – sent Janis’ mother a two-page message about how I missed her daughter and wished she would just come back.
The lady did the respectable thing and told me this would not be feasible, and to be honest, I should discuss matters with my own parents. It was at this point that I blocked the mother on Facebook, too. I didn’t want to be around anyone or anything that connected me with Janis. In fact, I found myself blocking our mutual friends – friends who I was legitimately close to – simply because they posted pictures of her whenever she was with them.
I would occasionally receive text messages from one of them in particular (and she is a good friend of mine now – one of my best, actually), asking when I would man up and unblock her. It took several months for this to happen. In the meantime, I blocked many phone numbers including my ex’s, her sister’s, and other friends’.
Things got so bad that I actually blocked Facebook in my Hosts file simply because I didn’t want to subject myself to the frustration of seeing evidence of Janis flying around. I would often tell myself that break-ups before the Internet were so much easier. The worst you would have to worry about is seeing the person at the grocery store. However with Facebook, you could see them nearly everyday.
Things got ridiculous.
The Day I Woke Up
I’m quite aware that there are people who have done similar things like this. Maybe you were a bit over-obsessive with a girl, and maybe it was because you aren’t confident enough in who you are – part of that even applied to me.
We live in an age where we can nearly delete anything. If we post an embarrassing status update, we have the power to remove it. If we take a picture that didn’t turn out very well, we can trash it. In short, because of the digital age, we are able to purge anything that we find undesirable or ugly. We live in a type of virtual utopia where anything unlikable has the ability to be deleted.
But whenever a harsh break-up happens, you discover something. Despite how hurt you may become in the midst of a break-up, you cannot delete this person. They are alive, real, and unique.
Lesson #5 of Lockhart’s Digital Dating: “Accept reality.”
Don’t waste your time deleting friends, changing host files, and blocking phone numbers. Your attempts at deleting this person will always be futile. Why? You’re merely setting a filter, and we all know that anyone can get around a filter. Instead, accept the fact that this person exists, they were a part of your life, and it’s now time to move on. When I realized how silly I was, I removed the blocks and was able to live a much happier life.
Also, don’t go crazy. Don’t ever go crazy. I went crazy, and I still occasionally deal with the consequences.
Wasting your time and efforts trying to remove this person means that your world still revolves around them. Instead, find something or someone else to orbit! In my case, I am now dating one of the most amazing girls ever, and looking back now, I was an idiot to waste so much time on Janis. The girl who I am currently with is quite aware of my past, and it’s now a source of amusement for us both. I can safely say that I finally “manned up” a bit.
With that said, now is the time for you to talk. Lash out at me, make fun of me, or drop your own confessions.
Are you struggling with a break-up and healing a broken heart because of the Internet? Do you have any other tips for my fellow man? Would you like to reiterate how much of an idiot I am?
Let’s hear what you have to say in the comments.