Are you addicted to the Internet? Are you deeply plugged in electronically … so much so that your relationship in the physical world is taking a serious hit – especially on your sweetie? Or is your sweetie the one glued to their cell phone or computer? Is the quality and depth of your relationship with your mate suffering? Are you compromising your one-on-one 3D relationship with a 2D electronic one?
Connecting via the Internet is a double-edged sword. On the one hand you might be having exchanges with others you wouldn’t normally be in touch with; on the other hand, those exchanges tend to be more superficial, the result being that we feel more socially isolated than in the “real” world.
Wonderful ways do exist to connect with your beloved. When you’re away, it’s comforting and reassuring to text and video chat. The Internet can be like a beehive interconnectedness. But user beware when you are together up close and personal. Like a siren call, grabbing for your phone is so tempting. The word “engaged” used to be mostly reserved for couples planning on tying the knot. These days, it’s a euphemism for getting entangled with a virtual, limitless world, on a broad range of subjects.
Tapping into the world of the internet can be highly addictive. Surfing, streaming, posting, checking for the latest news, engaging with social media to see what our friends are up to and letting them know what you’re up to, can be literally irresistible.
How does it feel when your mate is sitting next to you, their cell phone like an extension of their arm, tapping away, in another world far, far away?
Checking your device becomes a bad habit. We tend to do it unconsciously. It’s rude in many scenarios. How can you hope to have an intimate, meaningful exchange when your mate’s attention is focused on someone or something else? If it’s work-related, an emergency, that’s one thing; if it’s a casual text to a friend, checking Twitter for the latest news feed, that’s a bird of another feather.
Internet use is a matter of balance. Too little digital time can be damaging to a relationship too. Find a balance that you both are comfortable with. Decide what’s too much or too little. Figure out when digital distractions occur for you, such as during the work day, when you’re hanging with your buddies on a night out … when it might be best to give them space, get their work done, interact with others.
· Express any frustrations you have with his/her expectations about communicating digitally during the day.
· If you feel bad when your mate reaches over to check a notification when you’re in bed together, let him/her know.
· Establish boundaries when you really need to concentrate on other things. If you work at home, make it known that even though you’re at home you’re not loafing; you’re working, just like you would be if you were in an office away.
Easy Way Out
Are you hiding behind technology? Are you texting as a way to distance yourself in a relationship? Are you using your phone as a shield to prevent deeper intimacy for whatever the reason? Are you having an electronic argument? OMG, did you just break-up with your mate in a text message?
Come on … man up (or women up); have the guts to confront your mate face-to-face. It sure feels worse getting a written Dear Jane or John instead of hearing it in person. And it’s a lousy way to have a disagreement because you can’t gauge the other person’s emotions or reactions. Emojis can only go so far; they can’t express all the nuances, warmth, and humanity, like the real thing.
And user beware. It’s easy to say things electronically that we would never say to a person’s face. And it’s easy for your message to be misconstrued, the intent lost.
Granted, it’s harder for people to disengage with technology when they grew up with a cell phone in one hand and a spoon in the other. It’s a modern-day trap. We can become socially incompetent thanks to the dumbing-down capability of technology. Think of the dating implications. A host of dating snafus come into play in new relationships and especially that first date that we may be totally unaware of.
How does it feel when you want to develop a meaningful connection and your date dashes off a quick couple words and a smiley face? Imagine the impression you or they make on a first date as they gingerly check their phone – the electronic equivalent of eyeing a pretty woman or handsome man while you’re walking down the street, out on the town.
Are you a weak writer? Is writing not your best attribute? Are you turned off when someone new makes spelling errors in their emails or texts or shows poor sentence structure and grammar? It’s kind of unfair to judge a person on that basis. You may be dismissing a potential suitor whose strong points can’t be accurately and elegantly conveyed digitally. They may not write anything like the way they speak. Think of the missed opportunities on dating sites alone …
What’s a person to do in the Internet Age? For one thing, make a conscious effort to ignore your phone, the dings when a text or email comes in. Practice restraint. Look at it later.
Compare the hours you spend on your phone and how many hours you spend with your loved one? If you tally it up you might be horribly surprised. Ironically, there’s an app for that! You can track how often you check your phone. The idea is not to keep checking your app to see how much time you’ve spent using your phone, but a handy way to encourage yourself to limit your daily usage.
Using Electronic Media Intelligently
Use of technology isn’t all bad, of course. It feels good to share a poignant poem, a song whose message makes you think of your beloved, an unexpected love note in the middle of the day … “Hi, gorgeous.” “How’s the love of my life?” “You were so hot last night in that dress.” “Would you send me a picture of you right now?” “I miss you.” Or send off a photo of you blowing a kiss or a memorable snapshot from your photo archives.
Your phone is indispensable as a way to spend virtual time when you are far away and can’t be with them in person. Couples in a long distance relationship rely on technology.
Texting can be a way to apologize after one of you stormed out of the house after a nasty argument. It can be a way to open the lines of communication over a problem that can then be worked on later when you’re together.
Mind your manners. Etiquette counts in matters of the heart. That’s not to say you always have to be on your best behavior, but over time the slings and arrows of indiscriminate internet use can take its toll on your relationship. It detracts from attentiveness. It sends the message that others are more on your mind that your sweetie.
Consider technology as a tool, not a form of socialization in and of itself.
Tech companies have made it so easy and enticing to use our phones. The world is at our fingertips and it beckons us with wonderful stories, breaking news, high-resolution colorful pictures, addictive games, with no regard for the authentic life it is suppressing. Technology can be wonderful. It can be a bridge to communication or a wall of separation. How you use it will determine which it is.