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Technology and Intimacy

With millions of people now turning to the internet to meet new partners I wonder what we might expect from such avenues of “connection.” Meeting someone new romantically whilst portrayed as instant, connected, sparky etc is rarely quite what it seems. If we add in the layer of technology, things can rapidly turn from fun, exciting, slightly unknown, to downright deceiving, feeling ignored, and perhaps ultimately low level continuous rejection. In fact many people report feeling jaded and demoralised with internet dating within a few weeks of trying it.

Technology = Fast, Romance = Not Quite so fast?

As we immerse ourselves more and more in screen technology be that smart phones, Lap Tops, I Pads, we may be slowly eroding our human antennae that naturally appraise people and situations. We subtly monitor actions and behaviours and get very useful feedback, almost like a quiet detective. However much of this multi-layered process is lost with the 2D world of technology and this may be where the problem lies. We meet people with the same expectation, having swapped texts, E mails but when it comes to physically meeting we are back to our instincts. Even though an encounter may go well people then retreat back behind the technology. So we may report having a good meal with a potential date but then get no response to a text . Now we get into the fog of technology/intimacy. The mediated format starts to kick in – we don’t get feedback the way we may have in the past with a phone call. We don’t get time to process the meeting because maybe we get bombarded with follow up texts.

Think good coffee – can’t be rushed, needs to percolate a bit.

Before we know it we are either overwhelmed with mediated messages from someone we’ve only just met or we hear nothing, radio silence as such. We retreat and if this process continues many times over, as often happens, we become cynical and jaded. Our view of people being untrustworthy may be reinforced. This may tap into early feelings of being ignored, not responded to – we retreat and feel almost wounded.
Sociologist Eva Ilouz in her book Cold Intimacy offers a strong argument that we may be disappointed with internet intimacy/dating. The Carousel model is just like a supermarket – we may look, we may pick up, but a lot of the time we put down.
Curiously the therapy hour is almost the exact opposite where we can openly explore and crucially at times, ask for and get feedback. Good therapists are highly attuned to giving subtle feedback to clients. Crucially technology rarely impinges on the time with the therapist. We revert to our old model of feeling directly.
If we need to learn a little more about attunement to another, therapy may be a place to think about.
Counselling may help you with some of the issues raised.

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