Middle school was a trying time for everyone. Even the coolest kid in school was constantly worried about how people perceived him or her. Middle school was also the first time we really started noticing and getting interested in the opposite sex, in spite of the fact that we had no idea what the fuck we were doing. Luckily for us, AOL Instant Messenger appeared on the scene. Suddenly, we had a way to not only talk to our friends, but also to flirt with girls without worrying about stumbling over our words. Even more importantly, we could flirt with girls we didn’t even know.
Your AIM girlfriend could have taken a lot of different forms. Maybe she was a grade older or younger than you, or maybe she went to a school across town. Sometimes she was a friend of a friend, or a friend of a family member. She could have gone to the same summer camp as you, where you exchanged user names. And sometimes, she was from another city or state entirely, and you met completely randomly in a chat room or on a message board. The qualifications of an “AIM girlfriend” were that you agreed you two were dating, you talked to each other on a regular basis, and you had only met in person a maximum of one time. These relationships rarely lasted for longer than a few weeks, but could go as long as several months. It was a gloriously nervous time, and I think we all look back at ourselves as idiots now.
But not so fast. I’m actually going to make an argument that we might have had it right after all. Look, I’ll be the first to say that I’d be absolutely delighted to meet a girl who lives near me, fits most of the criteria I ramble on about, and is cool with my negative net worth. But instead of constantly kicking myself for not finding that, maybe I should look elsewhere. There’s typically one avenue people take when they can’t find someone they want to date who also wants to date them: casual hookups. Sometimes it’s with multiple people, or sometimes you have a friend with bennies. I’d like to propose another idea, though. Let’s bring back the AIM relationship.
The AIMship is the philosophical opposite of friends with benefits. It’s a relationship with no benefits, or at least, not as great benefits. You get to have a close, emotional connection to a person, share your innermost thoughts and hopes with each other, and sure, you can do some sexting, phone boning, or nudie swapping. The sexual component is significantly better now than it was then, with the added bonus of not putting you at risk for “trafficking child pornography.” It’s definitely not as good as having a real relationship, but it’s a hell of a lot better than nothing.
If an AIMship is what you’re looking for, there are so many more avenues for finding someone. You could find former high school or college friends who live far away, Facebook friends, or, of course, all the old school ones, too. (In case you forgot: a friend of a friend, a friend of a family member, a rando from a chat room). I don’t particularly endorse the chat room method, given the rise of “Catfish” in the world, but that’s up to you.
The AIMship is great, too, because neither of you have any expectations for it. You’re probably not going to get super serious and decide that one of you has to move. If your AIM boyfriend or girlfriend ends up dating someone in real life, it’s not a huge blow–you never really expected to be the one he or she ended up with in the first place. And if it so happens that the person you’re exchanging intimate instant messages with turns out to be The One, that’s just a really expensive and complicated cherry on top.
My challenge to all of you beleaguered single people who have given up hope is to go find each other on the Internet. Flirt, commiserate, open up, get sexy, show your private parts on Skype, do it all! The small percentage of you who find lifelong happiness because of this can pay me back by naming your dog after me. Not your kids, though. That would just be ridiculous.