Future Sex: What is Love in the Future? Should I Unfriend My Ex?

*Welcome back to Future Sex, Motherboard columnist Kelly Bourdet's look at love and the social web. This week she's answering questions from readers. Have your own question? Write Kelly at futuresexquestions@gmail.com.*

May 2 2012, 2:00pm

Welcome back to Future Sex, Motherboard columnist Kelly Bourdet’s look at love and the social web. This week she’s answering questions from readers. Have your own question? Write Kelly at futuresexquestions@gmail.com.

Fighting heartbreak with pills

In a slight quandary after seeing my ex unexpectedly in the pub and it being lovely but awkward and making me feel like my stomach wanted to come out of my trachea.

I did the right thing, took some Lorazapam and invented a cocktail comprising of Baileys and whisky liquor, which combined in a fuzzy deadening way. But my question to you, given we’re living in the future, is what is love now?

Furthermore, what can be expected of it?

How do you know if you’re chasing freedom or undermining a real chance of happiness with a wonderful person?

Best wishes,


Hi Omar,

Love and sex are always and forever difficult to navigate. Here, in the future, we have pills to calm us down when our hearts are broken and drugs to increase our sexual desire and function. We have an endless deluge of profile pictures providing "proof" that there are other, more exciting prospects available to us.

You've asked me a real mouthful, but I'll answer you as best I can. You asked about love, now that we're living in the future, which I'll take to mean the future of personal relationships now that we live in an era of unprecedented connectivity. Is love more complicated in our digital age? Of course that's unknowable, but I will venture to say that yes, I think it is.

The reason I say that our future love and sex lives are increasingly complex is simply because we've got so many more apparent options. We have endless options for sexual and romantic partners, and we've got myriad options for how to interact with them and how to "know" them. We can meet ten people on OkCupid and then text them and follow their Twitter accounts and investigate their past romantic partners by delving deep into their Facebook Timeline history. Maybe that's too much information on too many fronts, but it's become the current norm in social interactions.

And with greater connectivity comes an ever-larger dating pool. The freedom that you describe chasing is a lot more evident today than it ever has been before. Our exes don't just fade into the distant past. We aren't free from seeing them, other than an occasional, unfortunate run-in at a bar like you experienced. Our exes are all available, in the sense that they're all sitting right there on the Internet, waiting to be contacted. And so is that cute girl from college who you saw just moved to your city. And that guy I went on one date with in 2010. He's my Facebook friend. I wonder what he's doing these days.

You see my point. Not only are bars and coffee shops and parties, there are whole realms of the internet dedicated to meeting people.

Often, chasing freedom will, necessarily, undermine happiness with one wonderful person. That's something everyone has to accept. At some point, we all have to let go of people we love because we want more freedom than they afford us. And maybe now, because we are dumb humans hypnotized by the deluge of shiny possibilities we see every day, we will chase that freedom longer and farther than before.

But that's okay. Chase your "freedom" until you're tired of it. Even the most wonderful person can't make you not want it. If you're legitimately afraid that your freedom-loving ways are hurting your chances at happiness, then maybe go see a therapist.

Give relationships a chance. If you find yourself really wanting something else, then accept that and keep moving. If what you want, eventually, is to find one special person to commit yourself to, then I hope you will find them when you are ready for it. But that person won't necessarily be more wonderful than the ones you were with before. The timing will just be better. At some point, all those anonymous Internet possibilities will lose their luster.

The Unfriending Conundrum

My boyfriend and I just broke up, but we're still friends on Facebook. Should I unfriend him or is that childish?



You should absolutely unfriend him. I don't know about you, but as soon as I end any relationship, there's this voice in my head that irrationally screams “You need to get out of this city now!” This might be slightly avoidant behavior (though I've gotten some great vacations out of it), but the point is that we need distance, whether it's physical or figurative, to process a breakup.

You can't get over a breakup if you're constantly exposed to all the fun and Instagram food porn your ex is enjoying. It constantly reopens a wound and leads to weird obsessive behavior. If you really don't want to unfriend him, then unsubscribe from his updates, block him on Facebook chat, and promise yourself you won't lurk on his page. My personal stance is that it's best to know absolutely nothing about what your ex is up to. Maybe later, when your breakup isn't so fresh, you can actually be friends, both on Facebook and IRL.

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Future Sex explores how technology affects our personal relationships and how drugs and medications influence our sexuality. Previously on Future Sex: How is Babby Formed?.