Digital Life: How soon before deleting dating app? – USA TODAY

USA TODAY columnist Steven Petrow offers advice about digital etiquette.

Q: I’ve been seeing a guy for around four months now, and although I can’t say he’s “the one” it certainly feels pretty serious. We are exclusive, or so I thought until a friend told me she’d seen his photo on a dating app. I confronted him about it, and he said he’d set up the account ages ago and it didn’t mean anything, “We’re not married, so why should I delete my account?” He says he’s not actively looking for anyone, but my feelings are hurt. Shouldn’t you turn off dating apps once you’re in a relationship?

– Name withheld, Chicago, IL

A: Wouldn’t it be terrific if I told you I’d made up a new rule that said: Everyone, quit your dating apps once you’re in a relationship. I certainly could do that, but … your problem isn’t about the app at all. It’s about you and your guy. The problem is defining what it means to be “in a relationship” and at what point that happens.

Here’s an example from my own single days: I was on Match.com and meeting a number of guys, including one I’ll call Tony. Tony and I had had three dates (no overnights, if you must know) when he saw that I was still active on Match. Now, of course, if he’d seen me there it was because he himself was taking a stroll through the profiles, but that didn’t seem to matter to him. He phoned me in a rage, accusing me of cheating on him! “Really?” I said, before saying, “good-bye.” Apparently, he thought we were exclusive; obviously, I didn’t. So how would my new rule have helped me here?

No, I’m afraid for this one I needed to reach into my back pocket for an old-fashioned rule. So, here it is: People who are dating must talk with each other about their expectations and how they define their relationship before anyone can be accused of breaking the rules. You wrote that you were “exclusive, or so [you] thought.” That means you assumed something significant about your man friend’s feelings, rather than simply asking him if he was on the same page as you. From his reply to you, it seems clear that he’s not. That’s your real problem, which doesn’t have anything to do with a dating app.

However, once you’re both in agreement, then it’s time to hit that delete button.

Agree or disagree with my advice? Let me know in the comments section.

Submit your question to Steven at stevenpetrow@earthlink.net. You can also follow Steven on Twitter: @StevenPetrow. Or like him on Facebook at facebook.com/stevenpetrow.