Welcome to User Manual, Gizmodo's weekly internet advice column. This week we're answering questions on how to tell your parents you met someone on Tinder, how to deal with an ex on Facebook, and more internet relationships follies. Buckle up, sex in the internet age is complicated.
Reader David asks: How do I explain to my parents that I met my gf on an app dedicated to fucking?
User Manual: Lie. Lie lie lie. We met at the grocery store! We met through friends! We met at a bar! We met, pretty much anywhere but "an app dedicated to fucking." That plus parents does not compute. System malfunctioning. Parent will self-destruct in the middle of the kitchen as you're bringing your gal—who I'm sure is nice as pie—home to mom.
But maybe, just maybe, you don't want to lie. The truth will set you free, as they say. You don't have to put it in those words. Dial down the language a bit. Chances are, your mother isn't aware that Tinder is the first name in Sextime Apps. So say you met on a dating app called Tinder. Say you met online. Definitely don't say "fucking" or any other tense of the word in this conversation with your parents. Positive spin! Control the flow of information. You know, it's not about what you say. It's about how you say it. So lean on those synonyms, and remember your parents probably aren't as familiar with the suite of apps with which to bang on the market these days. Godspeed.
Reader IceMetalPunk asks: when my ex dumped me, I removed all photos of us together from my Facebook. It's been 9 months since the breakup, and we haven't even spoken for about 3 months—and then yesterday, I found out she's kept all her photos of us (tagged and with old romantic comments intact) on her Facebook, despite being with another guy for a while now.
Is it okay if I were to contact her and ask her to take those photos down? I feel like I have the right to do that, but since we haven't spoken in months, it would also be very awkward. I don't know if it's worth it, but I do feel strange when I go into "Photos of Me" and see those happy pics of us staring back at me.
User Manual: First I have to ask, if it's so hard to see these photos, why are you still Facebook friends with her in the first place? Face it, we all love to creep on frenemies and exes, but maybe it's time for you to consider just moving on altogether. You're not talking to her, but seeing the past is still painful. It's time to cut the cord!
Allow me to play devil's advocate for a minute. While, unfriending her and letting it go is what I recommend doing, maybe you still want to hold on a little bit of a connection to her life. So in most cases if you want someone to do something, it's a matter of asking nicely. But at the same time, part of that contract is you have to agree to take no for an answer if the answer is indeed no. Which it might be! Then again, if you want to avoid contact and avoid unfriending, maybe curl up with your pal Johnny Walker and untag yourself? But really, unfriend her, create a Tinder account, and let's call it a day.
Reader Aikage asks: If I accidentally liked someone on OKCupid that I didn't realize was someone that I actively don't like in real life and happens to work... like 2 doors down, and then they like me back.
What to do?
User Manual: In this scenario, you should take the bull by the horns. Keep it light, but next time you're in a social situation (work happy hour, bullshit teambuilding exercise, whatever), just bring it up. And play dumb. Play really dumb. It should go something like this: Oh my god, I just remembered! I saw you on OKCupid a few weeks back. I didn't realize it was you, LOL! Isn't that awkward. Laugh it up, keep it light, and move on from it. Oh and don't get drunk and throw caution to the wind. Resist the urge to dip your pen in the company ink here, especially with someone who annoys you.
Reader Amy asks via email: You're sexting with someone you have yet to meet, and they send you a picture of their nether regions. What do you do if you've been having fun, but don't find their bits attractive? Should you still meet? Fade out? This is a very serious issue.
User Manual: Whoa, okay, weird dick. Stand down, my girl. There's an episode of South Park called "The Death of Eric Cartman" that comes to mind in this scenario. Everyone decides they're finally going to ignore Cartman once and for all. Cartman, on the other hand, thinks he's dead. So he starts fading out from situations as he thinks a ghost should, by shuffling backwards, waving his hands and whispering ever more quietly. Apply this same approach to the botched dick pic you received. Maybe just send another text of a relatively benign nature, and then divert to radio silence.
Also, remember that you can block numbers in iOS now. So do that too as an added measure of defense. That makes it a hell of a lot easier to be a sketchball, and at the same time, to abort mission when sexting goes afoul.
User Manual is Gizmodo's weekly advice column about online etiquette. You can email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or leave them below in the comments section. Questions are answered every Friday afternoon like magic.