Do Technology and Romance Mix?
This Valentines Day, technology will allow couples to express their feelings for each other in more ways than ever before – but that's not necessarily a good thing, love experts say.
Services such as instant messaging (IM), text messaging (SMS), multimedia messaging (MMS), Blackberry messaging (BBM) are a convenient way for people in established relationships to stay in touch, but it can make dating more difficult for new couples, said Michael Silverman, assistant professor of the Department of Psychiatry at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine.
"When you’re just dating, texting gives you the illusion that the person is always accessible," Silverman told TechNewsDaily.
But being too available and open about your feelings can be unattractive. Silverman says one of the biggest complaints he hears from clients who are in relationships is that they often miss wondering if the other person is interested.
Services such as Facebook may widen the dating pool for people, but it also makes getting to know someone more difficult, Silverman argues.
It used to be that you got to know someone by meeting and talking to them, Silverman said, but "now our decisions are based on how someone looks on paper or on the computer screen."
Not everyone agrees. Helen Fisher is a biological anthropologist at Rutgers University and the chief scientific advisor of dating site Chemistry.com.
"For a long time, people married the boy they met in high school or in college. Now we are marrying much later,” said Fisher, who is also the author of "Why Him? Why Her?" (Henry Holt and Co., 2009).
The divorce rate in the United States is also high, so many people find themselves seeking love again while in their 30s, 40s, and 50s. By then, it's too late to meet someone in college or perhaps even at work. For these people, online dating services are a way to connect and find one another.
Fisher argues that meeting someone online is more natural than meeting a stranger at a bar. In the latter case, "you don't know this person's background, their goals, or if they are married," she said.
Services such as Chemistry.com can help people understand who they are, Fisher said, so they know who they are more naturally drawn to, what they want in a mate and what kinds of people aren't worth their time.
Then again …
Sex expert Laura Berman has an altogether different objection to mixing technology and love: It makes people lazy, she says.
"People don't try as hard to woo their partners, either while dating or [while] in a relationship," said Berman, who is the author of "The Book of Love" (DK Adult, 2010).
As more people rely on quick texts or impersonal emails to express our feelings, "the art of romance has fallen by the wayside," she said.
Every couple should have a “technology free night each week,” Berman said. Try to connect with each other the “old fashion” way – by playing board games or writing each other love letters.
Alternatively, Berman urges couples to experiment with ways they can use technology to spice up their love life. She suggests couples send each other sweet or sexy texts during the day so they'll be excited to see each other at night.
Like anything else in our lives, it’s best to use the technology in moderation, Berman said.
"You can actually use technology to find love," she said. "But if you use the technology to stray from your partner, or rely on email and text instead of personal connection, then, yes, it can be harmful.”
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