Does digital technology leave you feeling disconnected? We have all this technology to make communication super convenient, and yet, real connection is often elusive. If you’re dating in the digital age, avoid the disconnection trap by staying alert to these five red flags.
Texting, emailing, social media, instant messenger … these tools have made our lives easier in numerous ways. In fact, I think technology has really improved communication overall — just see my journal on “Is the Digital Age the Downfall of Intimacy?.” But when digital technology becomes a crutch or way to avoid intimacy, it’s time to come out from behind the screen.
Have you crossed into the digital communication danger zone? It’s not always cut and dry, and what’s ok for one partner might irk another. Here are five common digital-age behaviors or RED FLAGS that with help you identify potential problems:
1) They’re on their phone throughout your date.
He’s there to get to know you, right? Right. It’s pretty hard to get to know you when their nose is buried in their phone for most of the date. Responding to one or two texts or posting a photo to social media may not be a deal breaker, especially if you’re doing the same … but if his phone is monopolizing his attention, it may be best to swipe left.
If you’re aching to give him the benefit of the doubt, give him this mini-test: tell him “I’m feeling ignored when you’re on your phone.” (Replace “ignored” and “on your phone” with what’s true for you and the situation.) If he has empathy, he’ll try to soothe the hurt and put the phone away. If not, he’ll say something inappropriate back like, “You’re too sensitive,” and/or refuse to the put the phone away. The latter is, of course, a red flag!
2) They avoid meeting in person.
So, you’ve met online, she seems like a great person and has said you seem great, too. Wonderful! But every time you suggest meeting in person, her dog gets sick or she’s busy with work. Sure — there are some legitimate excuses, but don’t lie to yourself. If you’ve just made a third attempt to meet up and her house flooded (again!), it might be time to move on.
If her excuses seem legitimate, it may be worth putting the ball in her court: “Hey! I’ve made a few attempts to meet up. I totally understand you’re busy right now. Why don’t you let me know what dates and times that work for you?” If you never hear back, you will have your answer.
4) Their online behavior says, “I’m single.”
Sure, people may not rush to change their relationship status on Facebook within the same hour of committing, it could be bothersome to find him on an online dating site, “liking” a stranger’s bikini selfie after you’ve agreed to monogamy, or instant messaging someone he met on the dating site.
Best thing to do? Confront him and express your discomfort. Hopefully he has a reasonable explanation — “I honestly forgot to deactivate my account” — and if not, you can make an informed decision.
5) They have no interest in accommodating your needs.
Everyone uses technology differently. Some use it every day, every hour. Some work in social media, while others refuse to have accounts. Point is, it’s hard to anticipate who will be uncomfortable with what online/digital behaviors. The only way to find out? Communicate.
If both of you love and spend most of your time texting as opposed to hanging out — and you’re both cool with that — there’s really no threat to your relationship. If, however, even if one of you wants something different, you’ll need to discuss it and come up with a game plan to address your various needs. If you and your partner’s needs, however, are in such conflict that you can’t compromise — well, it may be time to consider other fish.
In so many ways, digital communication has improved our relationships. But if you find yourself staring down these red flags, it’s time to ask if the relationship is worth the trouble.
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To your emotional health,