Swipe right. Like. Heart emoji. Towel picture. Relationship status.
These might very well be milestones of today’s typical relationship. Yes, I’d like to believe that the most defining moments happen offline, but the truth is — they’re (also) online. Maybe you and your significant other wouldn’t be where you are now without that follow. Or that like. Or that timely What’s up and wink emoticon, just after she turned single on Facebook.
There’s no doubt that technology is fundamentally affecting our romantic approach, from the very first like to the very last unfriend. It’s a world that didn’t exist before, yet I know no other — it’s almost rooted in my DNA. My (unfortunate?) age determined a strong connection between my experience with romance and technology, right from the start. Which makes me even more curious. Is technology really enhancing love or is it making it more superficial? Should we fight against it and focus on our offline moments or should we fully embrace its tools as key aspects of 21st century love? Do we have what it takes to find a balance between the two?
I believe any of the extremes can be tricky. On one hand, gestures of romance that previously required physical presence and full attention are now dispersed among daily activities, “gracefully” multitasked through texting. That means less commitment, less responsibility. Plus, there are a whole lot of new problems to deal with:
His read receipt shows that he read my text 2 hours ago but he still didn’t reply.
I won’t use a kissing emoji on our first conversations, it’s too clingy.
She replied with a smiley. What the hell does it mean?
She commented on that guy’s photo with an inside joke. Yeah, they’re definitely sleeping together.
These are all common things I think or hear from close friends. It goes even further: research shows that men who overtext their girlfriends have less successful relationships (if you’re my ex and you’re reading this, the answer is yes, you probably did overtext). So there are definitely aspects of technology that make everything harder or dumber, not easier or better.
Then, why use technology at all, when it comes to romance? Because at the other extreme, trying to love “in the offline” and ignoring all these tools makes you miss out on things. At today’s speed of information sharing, you will inevitably feel that you’re falling behind.
Case A: If you’re rejecting technology as a way to meet new people, you automatically limit yourself to your circle. And guess what — odds are your soulmate (if you believe in that, anyway) isn’t in *that* circle. You might be missing out on some great people that you wouldn’t have the chance to meet otherwise. And face it: Kids, it all started when your mother liked my status sounds like an awfully charming story.
Case B: Rejecting technology from your daily relationship routine means that you’re probably missing out, again. Sharing a live picture of your new shoes. Texting her that you miss her the moment you actually do. Seeing her face when you’re traveling on the other side of the planet. Receiving a silly emoji just before a big meeting. These are things that would, without almost any doubt, benefit the relationship.
So neither of the extremes is the answer. Finding a balance surely is, but it sometimes seems like rocket science even for Millennials, who grew up with these tools. And just when you think you’ve figured it out for yourself, good luck finding a person that shares (or easily adapts to) your texting habits, your emoji politics, and your simultaneous online addiction AND need to disconnect (bipolarity ftw) :-)