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4 unhealthy ways technology is affecting dating

By Lea Rose Emery

Technology has made dating easier- in a lot of ways. You get to meet people outside of your friend group, LGBTQ+ folk can find it easier to connect, and it’s a great facilitator. But it’s also a total curse. Because technology effs us up. 

Sure, it’s not just about dating. The average person now checks their phone 46 times a day, which is...just not OK. There’s no doubt that we’ve developed an unhealthy relationship with technology. We view our most important moments and our most exciting trips through phone screens, we ignore each other in favor of sending a message that we could just as easily send 10 minutes or two hours later. We scroll, like, and swipe ourselves into a frenzy. 

But with dating, it’s a real problem. I remember calling my first boyfriend on his home phone, having to make small chat with his mother, and then eventually speaking to him to make plans. And then, we wouldn’t communicate again until we saw each other in person. When AIM came into being, we could start chatting and leaving angsty away messages but, besides putting passive-aggressive song lyrics in your profile, there was only so much damage you could do to your relationships. When cell phones first became a thing, text messages would lay dormant for hours. Now, that’s all changed. And here’s why it’s messing with us. 

1. We know too much about each other 

Googling someone before a first date should be a crime. OK, not a crime — but it’s sh*tty. It doesn’t do anybody any favors. Sure, I like to go into a date with a sense of the person I’m seeing. But with Facebook, Google, and Instagram, you can always find things you don’t like about a person. I’ve seen friends be turned off by the kind of shoes someone is wearing in one picture or something they posted on Twitter that didn’t seem funny enough. We have too much access to each other too soon. It lets us talk ourselves out of things and stops us from giving people a chance.

2. We attach too much significance to things that don't matter 

The “when to text back” debate drives me up a wall. There’s already a weird power play when people wait days to text back even though we know that everyone checks their phone 2,000 times an hour. But now, you can see exactly when they’re online, when they saw your message, and calculate just how long they’re ignoring you for. You start to panic — wondering why they aren’t texting you back — did you say the wrong thing? Are they seeing someone else? Are they ghosting? It can feel like the world is closing in on you. But the thing is — usually, they’re not ignoring you. Maybe their phones died, maybe they're taking a phone call, maybe they’re just in the middle of something. And yet you’re on the other end having a panic attack over something so insignificant. It’s a total waste of energy. 

3. There’s always something to over-analyze 

If you’re looking for something, technology gives you a way to find it. You have total access to a person — well, at least a version of the person. If you go through your texts, Whatsapps, phone calls and their social media profiles, you’ll always find something to freak out about. I had a friend who ended up crying while looking at her boyfriend’s ex’s Twitter feed — and then picked a fight with him over it. The Twitter feed didn’t mention him and they had been broken up for over a year. But my friend thought the ex was pretty and funny and went into a warped spiral of over-analyzing. There’s just too much to look through — so if you’re feeling insecure and looking for something to freak out over, you’ll definitely find it. 

4. We have too much access to each other 

Finally, we’re just too available to each other. I remember being on holiday with some of my friends and they asked me if I missed my boyfriend. I said that maybe I would — if I didn’t know where he was every single minute of the day. He texted me so often and with such tiny updates that it was impossible for me to miss him. And getting some space and some time away is good for a relationship. I don’t need to know that my girlfriend is going for a run at 5:34 and back from her run at 6:22. I don’t need to know that this is the moment that she’s walking home or that’s the moment that she’s going to the grocery store. But if people are constantly messaging and updating their social media, you can get a real-time sense of what they’re doing. Whatever happened to a little space? Relationships need a little distance to keep the spark alive. 

There are a lot of times when I’m grateful for technology — even within my relationship. I travel a lot and I like being able to stay in touch with my girlfriend. But, like everything, technology is good in moderation. And society's relationship with technology is anything but moderate. Between knowing exactly when someone is online, being able to stalk their past and their present, and just being too available, it’s hurting our relationships. So try not to sweat the small stuff. Put the phone down, take a step back — and focus on what’s actually happening in your relationship. Face to face. That’s what really matters.

Image Source: Tony Futura

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