by Clair Mellenthin, LCSW
In today’s world, communication is instant. We were able to witness the fall of the regimes in Egypt and Tunisia half a world away, simultaneously as the protesters watched these events happen. Our norm is fast, faster, and fastest. We expect communication to be instant, immediate, and relevant. With the onset of Twitter, Facebook, the Ipad, etc, the world is at our fingertips. However, for all of the great advances that these technological devices give to us, they are taking away one of the most important aspects of the human condition- face to face connection and interaction in our relationships.
With the rise of technology, our face to face time is rapidly decreasing. Recent research states that women are texting 150% more often than phoning to their loved ones, while men are texting 37% more. Some of this is great news, it is much easier to text “pick up some milk please” than having to call into your husband’s office and talk to him directly. Where it starts to impact the quality of our relationships, is when couples (young and old!) are texting or IMing each other about major relationship issues and attempting to resolve conflict or decide on big life decisions without even seeing one another.
When we receive a text or an email, we are constantly guessing about the intonation, inflection, and emotional message attached to it. I doubt that there is anybody out there who hasn’t had a miscommunication occur while doing this! Our communication is also encrypted- most of us are left guessing about the acronyms used in the last text you received…again, another miscommunication waiting to happen!
In most of our love relationships, we are constantly searching for meaning and meaningfulness. We are seeking reassurance to our intimate question “ARE you there for me”?
A- accessibility: Can I reach you?
R- responsiveness: Can I rely on you to respond to me emotionally?
E- engagement: Do I know you will value me and stay close?
taken from Hold Me Tight by Sue Johnson
However, for all of the negative’s and concerns that technology brings to us, it is also a wonderful tool to enhancing emotional intimacy if the foundation of your relationship- trust, friendship, love, is in place.
• Daily text’s with short, simple messages
• Reconnect via social media- tell your partner how great they look, how lucky you are, etc for all the world to see
• When away from one another, use Skype to connect visually and have face-to-face contact
• Use your smart phone to schedule date nights, “adult time”, or time to just hold each other. Sync calendars with your spouse and update regularly
When we learn to unplug and engage in our relationships, our quality of relationships improves, we feel safer and more secure, we can be vulnerable with one another…in short, we can trust.
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