Workday conversations with Paul used to go something like this: Hey, how was your meeting? Fine. Yours? NBD. Ordering in tonight? Okay. Thinking about you during meeting. Oh? Getting on knees & taking you in my mouth.
We’d break up the usual day-to-day with that, or the typical “what are you wearing” type of thing, or “I had the hottest dream about you.” It passed the time and kept us thinking about each other—which is helpful when you’ve been together for years. But then I had a rude—and probably belated—awakening: those private conversations weren’t quite as private as I’d thought.
I’m the kind of girl who likes going to a nude beach when I have the option of privacy—or not. Similarly, I like sending sexy messages with Paul—but I don’t want them available for public consumption unless I say so (such as, you know, in writing about them).
So, I, for one, am fucking thrilled that Facebook faces the largest-ever FTC fine for a privacy breach. Because once that domino fell, it quickly became clear to me that none of my online communication was truly secure. Gmail? Nope. Of course, neither were Google searches, whether they were done “incognito” or not. Instagram is owned by Facebook also, and I don’t even bother with privacy settings on Twitter because that’s just not where I conduct that kind of business. Emails, texts, pics? All of it vulnerable and no longer feeling even remotely within my control.
So, the sexy photos, the workday fantasies, the reminders of what lingerie was under the buttoned-up office clothes—all of it stopped, which was a big problem.
Emails, texts, pics? All of it vulnerable and no longer feeling even remotely within my control.
Long-term relationships don’t happen by magic, and Paul and I got more out of that daily back and forth than I realized. It kept us thinking about each other—sometimes it outright kept us sane. A hot reminder from the weekend was sometimes the difference between snapping at an obnoxious coworker and holding it together. Once that was gone, I realized just how important it was. And then I was filled with rage.
I’m not going to say this is all that rat-bastard Mark Zuckerberg’s fault, because that’s probably not fair. But, actually, what the hell: Zuckerberg, Page and Brin, Bezos (yeah, I’m throwing him in here because I’m not thrilled about Alexa keeping tabs on me)—I can no longer sext, and it’s all your fault.
Paul moped about this for like a week and then looked for alternatives. Yeah, alternatives to Google, the company so ubiquitous, it’s become a verb. What about WhatsApp? Free, which is always good, and highly rated—but I felt like I was back in junior high, chatting with my buds about the Friday night football game. While there was some fantasy potential there, not my idea of full-time grown-person sexy. If you saw the movie Eighth Grade, you too might recall how not hot that era was. Also, Facebook bought WhatsApp and Zuckerberg plans to merge it with Facebook and Instagram messaging for communication across platforms. Whomp-whomp.
We then tried Protonmail, which is fine for email—since it’s just for us, and we don’t have to worry about what provider other people use—but it doesn’t let us video chat or just message. Also, I was starting to feel like this was work, which is kind of counter-productive. Obligation has never, ever been a turn on. So, what’s a girl to do?
The workaround was to get creative. I send pictures—but they’re sly ones. A collarbone, the hem of my panties—nothing that would legitimately be compromising if seen by others—which is good because, ahem, I may have misplaced my phone once or twice. Just enough to whet the appetite, if you will. And we’ve gone back to sending messages, but now those are coded too. Yeah, we could go the emoji route—although really, how erotic is an eggplant?—but we mostly rely on personal history. If I tell Paul that I’ve been thinking about that time we went window-shopping in Amsterdam to pick out something for his birthday—he knows I’m talking about investigating blonde vs. brunette, not sneakers vs. sandals. And for the more everyday I-want-you-as-soon-as-we-walk-in-the-door kind of message, history provides a hilarious and surprisingly detailed variety of ways to get the idea across.
I don’t think it was bad for us to work a little for it. It’s easy to get complacent when you’ve seen the same person naked for years. Do I still want Zuckerberg et al. to feel my wrath? Sure, but it’s no longer because I feel like I don’t have options. In fact, there’s an additional thrill now: screw you, Big Brother—I’m getting some, and you don’t even know.