Remember when I wrote about the new site Cloud Girlfriend, and how it was still in testing mode and not yet live? Well, it came to life this week, and it’s a little different from the original spin.

Even though the name of the site hasn’t changed, girls as well as guys can now sign up for the service free of charge. Not sure what made them go in another direction, but turns out the site will NOT be doing stuff like posting on users’ walls and the like (in order to, as they originally aimed,  boost one’s dateability and appeal in the eyes of prospective interests).

Here’s the twist- Cloud Girlfriend’s new mission is summed up pretty well in one of the changing taglines on its homepage: “Cloud flirting. Practice here.” Shy of actually signing up for an account and putting it to the firsthand test (sorry! haha), what I’ve gleaned from articles is that it’s basically a romantic fantasy world. You know how you create an avatar of yourself if you’re playing a video game or Wii? You do the same thing here except the avatar is idealized to your heart’s content-your ideal physique, looks, dream job, everything. The site then matches you up with someone whose idealized self is compatible with your fake self. It’s the beginning of a beautiful faux-mance!

With Cloud Girlfriend’s updates, the good news is that now you no longer have to worry that the gushy and overly attentive posts on your crush’s wall were in part fabricated by him or her. The bad news? I just don’t see how engaging in romantic fantasy is going to help a shy person get better at real relationships, as the site’s founders are touting. Even if two users form a true connection despite the walls they’ve created with false personas, they still have to let down all their hangups and insecurities. It’s hard enough to do that in real life!

And I have to admit, even though I thought the original premise was kind of weird, it was certainly original. (This just seems like a dating version of a Facebook app!) But hey- you never know.

Readers: What do you think? Does interacting with others under avatars help you beyond the game-playing role itself?


Do you like playing a game of chicken? Unless you’re a thrill seeker…probably not! At least not in the traditional car-racing-toward-each-other sense. But we do play the relationship equivalent, in fact. It can be summed up in three little words: “I love you”! Yep, that very risky and usually relationship-changing (or ending?!) moment.

According to a study done by MIT psychologist Josh Ackerman, in which the 205 people studied were all involved in heterosexual relationships, men are more likely than women to be the one who drops the L word first (even though over 60 percent of those studied said they thought women tend to be the initiators!). Also, men reportedly feel happier than women after those words are exchanged. (Although, the study concedes, it’s not ALWAYS because they have noble intentions…but sometimes it is!) Ackerman even provides tips to women for when and how to say those three powerful words when dealing with commitment phobes, with men who are looking for longer-term relationships…and, when to just hold out till the guy says it.

I remember a few years ago, I was tearing my hair out wondering why the guy I had been seeing seriously wasn’t saying those words. Of course, being that that relationship was obviously destined to end, right now I can’t remember if I wanted to hear it because I felt the milestone was just appropriate, or because I was bursting to say it too. Maybe it was my slightly competitive nature; but I do not tend to yield (and in that case, I didn’t)! But, there’s not necessarily a right or  a wrong, and every situation, every relationship, is different.

Until I meet a situation where my emotions overwhelm my reason (and, um, my pride), I definitely have to agree with the study’s indirect recommendation that [if they’re not willing to risk being met with the sounds of dead silence, or whatever reason they do have] women should hold out as long as they can i.e. wait for the guy to give in first…because, as Ackerman’s study indicates at least, he probably will. Heh.

Do you speak what you feel when it comes to “I love you”, or do you wait for it to be said first? Is pride an issue for you? What if he/she just didn’t give in?

Check out Yahoo!’s Shine article on the study here.
And for those of you who really wanna know all the info, here is a full copy of the study.

Quick test! Have you got the knack of Tweeting down to its awesome micro-blogging science? Can you put together 140-character updates in a snap and get in everything you wanna say?

Well, short and sweet has its advantages, but not when it comes to relationships, apparently. Not according to one of the hilarious charts that dating site OKCupid put together (check out chart 4!). Yep, that’s right, a whole TWO MONTHS shorter and sweeter. Maybe all that connectedness and succinctness come with a price?!

How long are your average relationships? And how many social media sites do you actively participate in? If you’re not married, have you seen the longevity of your relationships decrease as you use more and more social media sites, apps, etc?

I’ve always been slow to accept new technology. I don’t really do gadgets, never have. I don’t have a smartphone, an iPod, or any Blu-Ray DVDs. And I’m pretty sure somewhere in my bedroom there lies a Walkman that just never made it to the trash pile 10 years ago.

Still, I’ve slowly been opening up to the idea of broadening my technology horizons. An iPad, perhaps. A Kindle, maybe. After all, we’re not exactly gonna go in reverse. Technology is only gonna get more intricate, more prevalent. Am I missing out in love, life, and the pursuit of all things happy by clinging to the tried and true?

It’s been a month since I closed my Facebook account, and so far all is well. Not even a chunk of sky has fallen. So in the interest of figuring out if new(er) technologies {or Facebook reactivation} are in my future, I’ve come up with a list. Is technology good or evil for my quasi love life?

The Pros

  • No more waiting. For the phone to ring, that is. Now that texting and IMing have become the norm, we gals don’t have to sit by the phone for the guy to call, because he won’t. Ever. We can just tell ourselves that he’s been driving…for an entire week nonstop…and is diligently keeping both hands away from that touchpad.
  • Online dating. You know, if that’s your thing. A menu of options whenever, wherever.
  • What distractions? Seriously, who needs to sit and wait when you can stalk your friends/enemies/exes, play Scramble, and stream music all at the same time?
  • Instant consolation and advice. Technology means we’re just one status update or Tweet away from plenty of advice from any of hundreds of contacts.
  • Fewer bad first dates. That’s what a quick Google search is for, right? Weed out the bad ones, at least on the big stuff that can be gleaned from that questionable profile photo.

The Cons

  • No filtering out creepers. Technology is CONVENIENT. A lot of great, awesome guys take advantage of that convenience. And a lot of weird, lazy loser guys who might not make any grand effort otherwise also know how to use technology to be…creepy.
  • No privacy. You need only Google, well, yourself to see how much info is out there to all, not to mention prospective love interests. (Double con if your name is not very common!)
  • 24/7 contact.
    Great for emergencies, but it also leaves the door wide open for unreasonable pressure to respond…on someone else’s timeline. It seems the greater the number of ways you can be contacted (and seen logging in and status-updating), the less likely someone is to believe that you are actually busy. You know, that reason that used to be totally LEGIT for fully employed, gym-going, 7-8-hours-of-sleep-needing adults?

OK, so maybe I’m not quite sold. I’m just very wary of letting another gadget or social media outlet into my life. I’m sure I’ve missed some of the pros though, so feel free to clue me in!

Well, now it’s legit. The “less than” symbol and number three combo, <3, has officially been added to the Oxford English Dictionary! That combo in conjunction with its symbolic counterpart, the heart symbol (♥ ), are now synonymous with love in verb form. Here’s the explanation given:

♥ to heart: The graphic symbol – which will be found alongside the word ‘heart’ and listed as a verb meaning ‘to love’ – is the first of its kind to be included in the comprehensive reference work.

Hmm…what effect, if any, might this have on relationships? After all, it’s hard enough already to get to the “I love you” stage–no one wants to be the first to say it. Now that “to heart” means “to love”, are we gonna see more copouts? Will this redefinition of a very innocent symbol just add to the miscommunication? (New dealbreaker: any guy who thinks it’s OK to tell me he “hearts” me before ‘I love you’.)

I guess we should have known this was coming. After all, “I NY” has reached iconic status as a logo for New York  since its launch in 1969, but no one ever fought for the heart’s addition into a dictionary. It’s only more recently, now that you can type two keys in Facebook chat and Gchat and create the symbol, that the heart as verb has become a true phenomenon. And the editors behind the OED took note. Well, you know what they say: once something’s on Facebook, it’s official!

What do you think about this precedent? Do you hate it? Or do you heart it?

* Check out the full list of added words, as well as OED editor John Simpson’s thoughts, here. (My fave? “Rub-a-dub”! I mean, why not??)

When it comes to matters of the heart, what’s YOUR best guide?

I’ve noticed that the older I get, the less I tend to listen to my brain chattering away, and the fewer people I go to for advice. And, I make decisions much more quickly. Hmm, I thought I was supposed to get wiser…shouldn’t it be the opposite?

Perhaps that is just it. After all,  inner wisdom and all that knowing thyself take time to develop. Nowadays, I’m definitely an intuition kind of gal and for the most part a follow-your-heart believer.

And even though my intuition has definitely taken me on some interesting adventures on occasion, I’m happy to report that that happens less and less frequently.  However, when it comes to love, I’ve found that there are some things you CAN do and SHOULD do to find a happy medium between the guidance from your oft-impatient heart and cautious brain:

  • Think it through…thoroughly. Take as much time as you need to make a decision. For the bigger ones, sometimes it’s best not to set a concrete deadline at all…just go with it.
  • Know that intuition isn’t always immediate. Maybe this is contradictory to the concept, but instincts can get rusty. Sure, you might get an initial FEELING and that reaction might be strong. But to become more attuned to your inner voice, it might take a lot of wrong-guessing and mental decluttering. There’s a big difference between something not feeling right and a general sense of pessimism that has slowly infiltrated your total outlook. Really, it’s huge if you can take some extra moments to sort through your gut responses!
  • Wait at least 24 hours before sending an emotion-filled email. Even an hour will do. Sometimes, if you send the email to yourself, that action can almost fake the ‘finality’ of a message sent. You might still be OK with your message…or you might find that you immediately regret the way you expressed yourself! (The heart is funny that way!)
  • Have an ‘escape route’ at the ready for whatever the situation entails…if possible. You just have to go into things assuming your heart is wrong, no matter what. Even if there is NO reason to need it whatsoever, having an exit plan ready can be a comfort. (Or maybe only for doomsaying situational-hypochondriacs (is there such a thing?) like me.)
  • When all else fails… Go with your heart if you’re pulled in that direction. Your brain will likely be able to pull you out if you were wrong! Sometimes you can’t search too deep for rational justifications.

Of course, the #1 no-fail method is to find that one friend who can always read you better than you can read yourself. That’s a gem!

Forget about whether or not giving your girlfriends or guy friends the scoop on your latest relationship or date is actually helpful. I’m still undecided if that’s ever a good idea, because let’s face it–many married folks can’t remember what it’s like to be single, and single people are, well, SINGLE. So we won’t delve into going to friends for actually useful advice-getting.

Nope, I’m just curious about how much people divulge to their friends and family–leave nothing out or totally withhold (or a safe in-between)? Are your friends in the loop on the down and dirty of what’s going on in your love life? How much detail are you comfortable giving, and when does it cross the line? I read a book recently (see my post from yesterday) that I’m guessing is a pretty accurate account of what goes on a lot between friends when it comes to their romantic relationships and how they figure things out (or just vent). But frankly, I doubt I’d EVER forward a girlfriend an email I got from a guy, asking her to give me her take on it. It’s not just the inanity of girls-interpreting-guys either–it’s too personal a thing for me! (And maybe not so nice to the guy.)

So, how much detail do you give, and how much do you prefer to hear? I like to think I’m in the less-is-more camp when I’m on the listening side, but I’m the first to admit that when it comes down to it, I’ll never turn down some juicy gossip!