Keeping A Relationship Old School In a… | Center for Growth Therapy

Keeping A Relationship Old School In a New Age

In a world where we now have texting, Twitter, Facebook, FaceTime, Snapchat, and any other instantaneous phone application you can think of, how do you keep a relationship old school in this new age? These days, a person can get immediately get in touch with you via technology. If you don’t respond to a call or text right away, they can check to see the last time you were on Facebook or where you’ve checked in last on FourSquare. Keeping a relationship old school in this new age can be difficult. With the help of this tip, you’ll be able to keep your relationship old school in this new age.

To make things even more intense, not only is the other person quickly and easily at the tips of your fingers, there are parts of these applications that make you think in a way that our parents and grandparents never thought when they were in relationships. Take for example texting on an iPhone. In iMessage, a person can see when the other person is typing due to the use of ellipses. If a person so chooses, they can also let their text sender know when they have read their text. When a person sees the ellipses but then never receives a text message you start to wonder, “what were they going to say” or, “why did he delete what he was typing, was it mean, was it racy, was he breaking up with me?” Though convenient and useful at times, these added extras to the already depersonalized applications could create heavy turmoil in the modern day relationship.

There is an unlimited amount of ways that having total access to our partner can get in the way of actually having access to our partner. If you are a person who is best at thinking or doing, technologically based communication may not be much different than real life communication. If you are a person needs to sense the room and the person’s energy, communication through technology may be difficult for you. Couples tend to use texting, email, and/or Snapchat as a form of communication, even when having emotionally intense conversations. Though each partner is receiving the messages, they are losing the connection made through being able to read nonverbals (such as tone of voice and facial expressions), feeling their partner’s energy in the room, and having the opportunity for touch and eye-contact.

Due to the lack of intimacy when using technology, having full access to your partner can lead to an excessively quick escalation. When communicating, people tend to have less of a filter when not face-to-face with someone. If there is a confrontational conversation going on via messaging, a person is more willing to say things they don’t mean and to say them in a harsher, less tactile way. Without seeing the other person’s reaction, there is less consequences. The instant access, therefore, escalates the conversation into having a negative spin on it much faster than if done in person. In this instance, save your emotionally driven conversations for in person. You will have more intimacy and be less likely to say things that you can’t take back.

On the other side of negative conversations arising quickly, positive conversations could happen rapidly as well. Instant access allows us to share more about ourselves and have information that used to be shared throughout a one month courtship come up in a one day texting marathon. Instant access, therefore, may form a false sense of connection based on the information shared. But, lacking the nurturance that comes with such vulnerability. Save some intimate details about yourself for in person conversation. Or, revisit this information that was shared in person.

When technology is involved, people tend to lose their sense of boundaries. With a lack of boundaries comes a lack of space for privacy. The unsent ellipsis gives the person on the receiving end permission to ask, “what were you going to say?” The read text that was never responded to gives the sender of the read text permission to ask, “What were you doing that you were too busy to answer my text? I know you read it.” Snapchat offers a glimpse into a person’s world throughout their day. Video chat allows each person to know exactly where the other is. Location settings on the phone allow each other to check location without the other person even knowing they are being watched in that moment. Set boundaries for you and your partner around the settings on your phone. Have a conversation with each other as to how you’d like to give one another privacy.

Social media has a big part in escalating our relationships. Through viewing pictures, videos, or posts a person can get a sense of who they are dating. They may feel less urgency to having certain conversations. On the other hand, they may also feel that false sense of closeness. Social media lends itself to fantasy of a person and who they are. This fantasy can be created without the context of seeing how the person actually fits into the other person’s world. Don’t judge a person by their Facebook, Instagram, or any other social media channel. Give them a chance in person. They might surprise you with how awesome they are in person. Or, they might disappoint you and only come across as interesting via photographs.

Social media sites and phone applications can also lead to strain that otherwise would not be on the relationship. Seeing someone post a comment, liking a picture, hashtagging something inappropriate, over sharing publicly what is going on in the relationship privately, etc. Whatever the act is, a person can become jealous, anxious, left out, or hurt by the activity seen on their partner’s sites. These feelings then lead to a conversation that never would have needed to be had in a time when social media did not exist. Set limitations to what can be shared on one another’s page. If you don’t want what is supposed to be a cute picture between you and your partner and not between you and your coworkers online that is amicable. Say so. Your fights should stay between the two of you. Do not get others’ perspective’s on your personal business. You want your family and friends to support your relationship, not take sides.

How do you get back to having an old school, butterflies from holding hands, kind of relationship, without completely giving up all the technologies that today has to offer? There is a fine line that is drawn where the use of technology and social media can be a fun, positive addition to any relationship or a negative, draining addition. Understanding where your line is and how to stay on the positive side is key.

Think about what you really enjoy about technology. Think about what you could do without. Can you go on a technology purge- delete your Facebook, give up email for a week, only text so many texts per day? What is it that you like about the old school way of relating to a person? Do you yearn to touch hands, to look a person in the eye, to hear the inflection in their voice? Healthy relationships are those that consist of two people connecting with one another in person not just via text or Snapchat.

The first step to keeping a relationship old school in this new age is acknowledging that these new world technologies have an affect on the relationship. The effect may be positive or negative. Understanding how the technologies work within your relationship is important.

The next step to keeping your relationship old school is to identify ways in which to do so. Think back to the stories your parents have told you about their relationships, think back to when you didn’t have a cell phone or Facebook involved in your relationship. What techniques were used? Here are a few to get you started.

  • Calling the person (rather than texting).
  • Buying them actual cards/flowers (rather than sending an eCard or eFlowers).
  • Verbally saying how good the person looks in person (rather than “liking” a photo).
  • Sharing an in person experience together (rather than playing an online game against the other person).
  • Have an open conversation with someone about their past relationships (rather than Facebook stalking or Googling and filling in the blanks on your own).
  • Using the old fashioned rule of no phone calls after 9pm (if you want to interact with the person later than that, then see them in person later).
  • Don’t allow cell phones on the date (put it on silent and forget you have it till you get home).
  • Live in the moment (rather than taking pictures for your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat…). Ex: don’t do an activity simply because it will make for a good picture, do it because it will bring you enjoyment or closer to your partner.
  • Ask your partner how they prefer to be communicated with. Ex: if they are at work, they may only be able to text but want to stay in touch with you throughout the day.
  • Ask your partner limitations on technology. Ex: deleting certain people from social media, no text fighting…
  • Identify the value of each technology for yourself and your relationship
    • How will each technology help you to connect with someone?
    • How might each technology limit your connection with someone?
    • What skill set is my partner/myself lacking that the technology is helping?

Implementing these techniques is going to take self-control and courage. Courage because it is more personal to take these actions listed above, which makes you more vulnerable and susceptible to getting hurt within the relationship. However, it also makes you more susceptible to becoming closer with your partner and having more sustenance in your relationship.

Overall, technology can be a magnificent way to communicate and stay in touch with your loved ones. Technology can also hinder the development of deeper connections through sensing the other person. Sensing skills are useful when you’re thinking about having someone in your social world, having sex, or starting a family. Life is about balance, maintaining an in person connection and supplementing the connection with technology when needed is important.

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