Digital Era Dating and Forging Authentic Relationships Amid the Screens

27 Jul

The digital era has provided us the opportunity for online dating and the connivance of fast and easy communication. But what is the flip side of that? What is it like forging an authentic relationship amid the screens?

digital dating

The internet is arguably mankind’s single greatest achievement—but for how much longer? Scientists are continually creating technologies so advanced that the vast majority of us can scarcely conceive of how they’re even possible.

But among all this innovation and wonderment, the importance of traditional, personal, face-to-face interaction cannot be overstated—and this is never more true than when you’re single, and looking for love. Because you might just be astonished at the value of limiting screen time, putting your device away, and letting the sparks fly—no phone in sight. Otherwise you risk losing that uniquely human trait, one of the most crucial things your love interest is looking for: empathy.

When we empathise with our date, we don’t just connect physically and emotionally, but also become fully present with them, profoundly able to sense their struggles, tone, and emotions. Interpersonal skills often fall by the wayside as society marches ahead into uncharted technological territory, and many people—single and coupled alike—are missing out on more than they realise, because they’re glued to their phones. In so doing, they sometimes overlook those who matter most, right there in front of them, deserving of and yearning for attention, affection, and connection.

In 2015, professor of social studies of science and technology at MIT Sherry Turkle published Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age. In her book, she explores how fundamental human psychology functions in the era of constantly evolving technology. From the outset, Turkle makes it crystal-clear she’s not anti-technology, but pro-human connection. She warns of the flight of conversation, the hypermodern phenomenon of people being distracted by the mere presence of a phone:

The very sight of a phone on the landscape leaves us feeling less connected to each other, less invested in each other.

Turkle is clear in what she attributes this problem to: our minds simply associate our devices with escapism, zoning out, and absentminded scrolling. After all, what do you do as soon as you’re bored (and slightly out of sight) at a work meeting? Or queueing? Or lonely at a social gathering? Probably without even realising, you’ve delved deep into your pocket or bag, and the next thing you know your eyes are transfixed on your own personal black mirror.

Turkle has no qualms in emphasising the crux of her argument: the flight from conversation needs quashing—and fast. She argues that people are losing their ability to converse, discuss, address conflict, and explore tricky and difficult topics—and invariably to their own detriment.

So what about when it comes to dating? After all, digital online dating is ubiquitous now, and understandably so. It’s the natural result of people being able to speak in real time to any person, anywhere in the world. But apparently intimate relationships developed in this manner are anything but, and online dating risks removing you from reality and transporting you to a realm where everyone is a persona and nothing’s as it seems. And to reiterate Turkle’s thesis, let’s be clear: it’s amazing that we can strike up a potentially romantic relationship with someone on the other side of the planet. Your soulmate could legitimately be as far away geographically as is possible. But—if the relationship spends too long in the digital world, it’s likely to crumble disappointingly when you finally meet in the real world. Because neither you nor your romantic interest are being truly authentic in this virtual dynamic—and ultimately, neither of you will be emotionally satisfied if things don’t progress to real, in-person dates—and sooner rather than later.

And if that’s not logistically feasible for the time being, then leverage that digital technology and take the next best route: a phone call—or better still, a video call! It’s not the same, but now you’re opened up to an entirely new dimension of interpersonal connection. Hear the cadence of their voice, see how they hold themselves, observe their expressiveness. This can be surprisingly effective if you’re prepared, and it’s certainly something we at The Vida Consultancy passionately advocated for during lockdown. Video dating proved the optimal solution when singletons were physically unable to meet for an extended period. Over a glass of wine, our eligible singles were happy and thankful to build some rapport, get to know one another in real time, and—most importantly—take the highly symbolic step of shifting away from just typing at each other across blank, anonymised screens.

We have an indescribable amount to look forward to as technology bounds ahead in zappy, inexorable leaps. It will undoubtedly enhance the quality of many aspects of our lives to unimaginable levels—but it will never become less true that how you relate to others on a purely human plane, face to face, is of paramount importance to your most profound sense of contentment, both in yourself and your relationship. And if you need a little reminder of that every once in a while, we can help.

The Vida Consultancy is an elite, multi-award-winning international dating agency, whose global network boasts some of the world’s most impressive singletons, every one of them ready to settle down with that special someone. Get in touch today, and rediscover the sheer, visceral magic of being wholly and utterly rapt in another’s company—removing the digital aspect of dating and not even caring where your phone is.

by Rachel Vida MacLynn

Founder & CEO

Rachel Vida MacLynn is reputed as being a world-leading matchmaking and dating expert. Registered as a Chartered Psychologist with the British Psychological Society, Rachel advocates a professional matchmaking approach based on psychological principles and professional consultation.More by this author

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