Daniel Jones, editor of The New York Times’ Modern Love column, reads from his anecdotal relationship guide, Love Illuminated, at the Brookline Booksmith on Feb. 7.
I think the main influence that’s changing relationships is technology. It seems to me that with all these things, especially people having relationships through their phones and through their laptops with strangers, that people’s relationship lives are fragmenting into certain people they have relationships with only online, that they never meet, and that they have this really strong emotional connection with. It almost seems like people trying to compartmentalize their lives into different pieces.
Yeah, absolutely. When people write these essays, they’re taking control of something that’s potentially embarrassing or that they want to understand. It’s a generous act to share that because, chances are, no matter how freakish you feel for being obsessed about a certain thing or not being able to understand some complexity of relationships, there are several hundred thousand people who feel the same way. I think one reason the column has endured and is widely read is it’s this odd situation of having something extremely private in a forum that could not be more public and more broadly available and read.
Stalking somebody on social media before a date is so widely done that if it was considered bad form, then everybody would be in bad form. But what’s interesting is there’s a risk to it. Anyone’s experienced a time when you find out too much about a person in advance of meeting them, and then it makes the meeting fake. It turns meeting the person into an exercise in trying to get them to talk about the things you already know about them so you can move on to other things.