Chat histories have become the modern version of a cache of yellowed love letters, a record of relationships that endured or went awry. In Love in the Time of GChat, couples show us the online exchanges that punctuated their time together.
Before Scott and Lana ever met in real life, they chatted online. A lot. It started on OkCupid IM and moved quickly to g-chat -- and went on for hours a day. Scott had initially sent Lana a message on the dating site, hoping to go out sometime. But things were stalled because Lana was working in DC for the summer and wouldn’t be back in Chicago for a few weeks. IM-ing one another quickly became part of an automatic Internet routine, like checking Facebook/Twitter or reading horoscope websites with pop up ads.
Scott’s online dating philosophy is that it isn’t good to talk too much before the date -- you don’t want to build things up before meeting. “Sometimes when you really like somebody your logic gets superseded” Scott tells me. So chatting with Lana, there was some fear in the pit of his stomach, but mostly it just felt good to talk to her. So he just ignored those inner voices and let himself look at her photos multiple times a day. Which is maybe why Scott developed had an ongoing joke about Lana being a Proper Victorian Lady. It was about her pale skin, dark hair and petiteness, and about how this was her first foray into online dating, since she’d just gotten out of a 7 year relationship.
They started to share serious things. Scott told her he'd been a religious Christian until age 28 (a few years previous) and Lana had a church background too. She talked about how manipulative youth groups could be — the candles and inspirational music setting the mood for crying. Things were moving fast despite having never talked on the phone — Lana disliked ‘disembodied voices’. Scott was starting to really like Lana, even though he didn’t know her.
The more they talked the closer the days ticked down to when Lana would be back in Chicago and the two could actually finally meet IRL. So now they had to decide what they’d do.
Scott was nervous at first but the date went well — until he leaned in and tried to kiss Lana. She reacted poorly: “She pulled back and looked at me like I had tried to punch her.”
Still, they ended up staying out late, and seeing each other again. Scott started to feel like things were going well. If he could just take it slow and wait, maybe she would come around. Lana was Scott’s date for a fancy party held by the newspaper he wrote for. Scott’s co-workers loved her and asked if she was his girlfriend. “No, I wish” he said. Around this time, he asked her about it.
But Scott decided not to give up. He really, really liked this girl and he was convinced that all it would take was a little time. That she was just busy right now and that it would work out.
She didn’t go to the concert but soon after she did go to Scott’s birthday party at a karaoke joint with a small group of friends. She brought cupcakes and Scott says she seemed to have a good time. He thought the night went well and he made sure to pay special attention to her. After that night that she pretty much fell off the face of the Earth. But Scott refused to give up.
The Inevitable End
Scott continued to invite Lana to things but when she didn’t respond it just got silly.
Scott admits that maybe there is a part of him that has still not let go completely. (Maybe this is why he agreed to share his g-chats.) But whatever, she wasn’t into him. He gets it. Mostly.
Recently for his newspaper job he found himself interviewing Jake Johnson who plays Nick Miller on the show New Girl, opposite Zooey Deschanel. Jake was telling him how he ended up with his wife. She was a bartender and he just kept pursuing her even though she said she wasn’t interested and finally she saw something in him. The photographer had a similar story. Scott says “basically they were telling me that ‘the bottom line is that you can’t give up.’ And I was like, you know what? That is bullshit.”