Holy cow, it happened! You met someone, maybe online, first seduced by their sharp written banter then pleasantly surprised to find their wit carries over into the real world. Or maybe you’re old school, you were introduced by friends, he bought you a drink at a bar, your eyes met across the floor in yoga with your butts raised in the air leaning into downward dog… It doesn’t matter where the connection started because it always leads to one place: you’re eventually going to go down on each other… deep down… scrolling through the depths of their Facebook page.

Yep, a friend request will be sent. Someone will accept and then suddenly, despite your best intentions, you find yourself conducting a background check on their page that would make the NSA proud. Who’s that girl who posted the funny video to his page in March? Why did he recently add eight new girls as “friends”? I’m just going to quickly Google them and make sure they’re non-threatening… Hold on, does he really “like” The Bible or is he being ironic? Oh boy, does he wear vests? Could I date a guy who wears vests? Whoa, did he go on vacation with some random woman in Prague in May? Did he love this girl? Will he love me? Are we going to go to Prague? But what if I prefer beach vacations? Wait, maybe it’s just his sister…

Then you start following each other on Instagram, things are really heating up, huh? He’ll like a few of your photos. What does this mean? Is he just a generous liker or is it possible that he is obsessed with me? You’ll try and assess the hidden clues behind these clicks like a scientist curing cancer.

Then the real games begin; the text message games. Each wink bestowed and exclamation point inserted leaves so much to be interpreted. Oh the hidden subtleties in an emoticon. He’ll text you, but you’ll wait an hour to respond because you’re “busy”, right? Of course you are, you have the all-consuming job of choosing between Hefe and Lo-Fi for your latest and greatest Instagram post. God he’s so funny, and wait a second, so are you! You take a screen grab and send a picture of your conversation to a friend proving that you found a potential mate who jives with you in text banter. Lucky dog!

You scour the web digging up dirt on your new dude then you nearly punch yourself in the face on your third date when you accidentally let it slip that you knew he played Lacrosse at Brown. How did you know this? Certainly not because you lurked Google image, more likely it’s because you’re a little bit psychic, right?

Now, if you are fortunate enough that the chemistry carries over into real life and you’re strong enough to make it past the technological games of cat and mouse, you’re ready to DTR (determine the relationship). Some of you may even go so far as to change your relationship status on Facebook, declaring to one and all that yes, you are taken. Somebody loves you! Congratulations!

You ease up on all the selfies and exhilarating shots you’ve been posting of how fabulous your life is because you already found someone who thinks you’re freaking fabulous on and offline.  (Unless you’re still getting over an ex who you have not yet defriended because you want them to know exactly how wonderful your awesome life is. In this case, you keep up the bragging charade through a series of jealousy-provoking posts.) If you’re past these games, you can relax and just be you and he can be him and you can take pictures and have conversations and they will all live on a mobile device that you carry with you everywhere.

Perhaps you create a photo album of that trip to Mexico you guys took together or maybe you just post cute inside jokes, songs or links on each other’s wall. If you’re less into social media, you just exchange emails with articles that interested you or made you laugh or photos of you flashing your boobs in the bathroom. Without any effort, you’ll leave a digital trail documenting the course of your love.

Then there will come a night where he enters his email password in front of you, which you just happened to see. Or he asks you to check something on his Facebook when he’s away from his computer. How do you deal with this information? Are you respectful of his privacy or do you invade his social world like an overbearing mother with the keys to her daughter’s diary? Come on, you have to resist… but what if he doesn’t call one night? Maybe just quickly check his emails to make sure he’s not dead? You’re just being thoughtful!

Once comfortable in the relationship, you may unconsciously relax your social graces with each other. Rather then locking eyes and talking through dinners you find yourself scrolling through your phone. You might be at a beautiful meal, but what the hell is everyone else doing? Maybe after he climaxes, he rolls over and you see him refresh the Facebook page on his phone. Maybe you do the same, watching Vine videos on mute. This is not appropriate post-coital behavior! Or is it? What are the rules in 2013?

The two of you start drifting apart. Maybe you catch him Google stalking a girl from work or maybe some spontaneous wave washes over you that urges you to send a male friend a suggestive Snap Chat of your crotch with the caption “insert yourself here” scribbled on to it. Or perhaps in a moment of jealousy, he lurks your emails and misinterprets a message from an ex to mean something much more salacious and inappropriate then it really is. Or, on the off chance, maybe your relationship’s doom has nothing to do with the Internet or technology; maybe you’re just growing in different directions.

It doesn’t make a difference why you’re breaking up, the same way it doesn’t matter how you met in the first place, because despite how you end it offline, you still need to break up online.

If you changed your relationship status when you were committed, I feel for you. It’s like getting matching tattoos, rarely something you’ll choose to do twice. Some couples will have the conversation, deciding it’s best to defriend each other to avoid the constant reminder of the other person’s daily activities in their News Feed. Or maybe your ex just straight up blocks you then digs the knife deeper by “friending” a bunch of girls he used to sleep with and the chicks you always suspected something was going on with but he had always vehemently denied. Maybe in an attempt to cast his single net out wide, he goes on an Instagram “liking” spree, spreading red hearts all over girls’ selfies like he’s Cupid on Valentine’s Day.

You try and get yourself to stop looking at their feeds but you are a junkie and they are your drug. The internet is your scab and although it hurts to pick it, you do. Let the blood flow! And each picture makes your stomach hurt, in fact by this point you can barely keep food down which has it’s perks. You may even start looking at his feed with the masochistic hope that he is following new hussies, because this will tie up your stomach to the point where you feel like skipping dinner. Although you hate that you’re not together anymore, you love what the heartache is doing for your mid-section.

Then the 2013 nightmares begin, the ones where you accidentally comment on their Instagram and can’t delete it or you liked a photo of a girl that he’s following in the midst of a messy stalk. Maybe these aren’t just nightmares that occur while you’re sleeping, maybe you really do accidentally “friend” one of the girls he’s seeing and then you have the chills of panic run through you. Did she see? Does he know? What am I doing with my life? Will I ever love again!? How long before I gain back this break up weight?

Are you exhausted yet? I am! I’m sweating a little bit too… I’m aware that not everyone is guilty of these habits… but if we’re honest, most of us can raise our hands and admit we’ve committed at least a few these 2013 love crimes, even if just shades of them. It’s a tough technological world we’re living in. In order to move past failed relationships we need to end them respectfully online. We can’t let all these apps and social media sites get the better of us.

Let’s make a pact. It’s time to step away from the computer, put down the iPhones, and log out of the sites. Even just for a little bit. Are you with me?

The Internet is a fantastic tool for connecting us in many ways, but it’s also a brutal landscape that is disconnecting us more than ever, dooming relationships before they even begin and haunting them after their passing. Is this the kind of world we want to raise our children in? One where we’re constantly on our devices comparing our lives to others? One where the online narrative of our life is so easily accessible and often misinterpreted?

Let’s live life in the moment, aye? Not focusing on our partner’s or ex’s or future lover’s past, present or future on the internet. I know it is easier said then done… trust me, I know. But by heavily engaging in an online life you’re only missing out on real life. Let’s take back some mystery and get real old school, practice restraint in your next relationship by quieting your inner detective from the start. The only wall between you and your partner shouldn’t be the one where other people can like and comment—it should be the one you’re pinned against. Who’s with me?

Okay, follow me on Facebook! Kidding! Sort of! Not really! Ugh, 2013.

Featured image via ShutterStock