Relationships in the Digital Realm


We have all heard about the dangers of online dating. We hear stories and watch TV shows like Catfish of people that meet someone online and it does not end well. But we’ve all also probably heard of people meeting their spouse through online dating. For example, my cousin met her husband through Christian Mingle. But I am particularly interested in how the digital world impacts already existing relationships.

Over the past fifteen years, the world has seen an incredible rise of the digital, allowing us to connect to individuals not only in our country, but around the world. If we meet someone briefly in person, but add them on Facebook, we can stay connected with that person no matter where they are. The digital tools we have are fascinating tools that we can use to further and shape relationships.

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We love FaceTime!

I am currently in a long distance engagement, one where we heavily rely on technology to communicate. My fiancé, Alex, and I have been together for almost two and a half years, and for about the past six months, he has lived in Richmond, Virginia. This was definitely a major adjustment for our relationship considering that we spent two years attending the same college and living a stone’s throw away from each other. While this has been a tough adjustment, technology has definitely helped make this transition easier. We can talk on the phone, text, Facebook, FaceTime, Snapchat, the list goes on and on of how we can still communicate with each other.

Technology has not only helped me personally, but countless other people who have been through long distance relationships. It does make me wonder though if we rely on others more heavily now because we are always connected with each other. I think of the times before the digital world took over everything. People still managed long distance relationships and friendships, it just took much more work. You had to definitely make an effort to stay in relationship with that person because they were not physically there, and I fear that we may have lost that intentionality with our dependency on the digital.

My parent’s engagement photos

This idea makes me think of my parents. My parents dated for three years before they got married in which my mom was in school here at Greenville College and my dad was in medical School at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. For three years, my parents dated long distance and did not have the privilege of FaceTime or Snapchat. Yet they made it, and have been married for twenty-nine years. I’ve talked to my mom about this experience before and asked her how they stayed together. Her response was that they would talk on the phone about once a week (not for very long though because of the long distance phone call rates) and they would write a lot of letters. This is just so interesting to me though because they did not have to know where the other was or what they were doing at each moment of the day. They lived their own lives while still being together.

I fear that our dependency on technology has bred people that cannot function without feeling like they are connected to someone or something. No longer can people go without talking to their significant other for more than a few hours. I think about my experience on WalkAbout this August and the fact that I could not talk to my fiancé for ten days. I was basically losing it worried about him and hoping that he was okay. Now, of course he was fine, but I hated that I could not know for sure. After all, outside of my time on WalkAbout I have talked to Alex every single day for about the last two and a half years.

One of my biggest revelations while being in a long distance relationship is that there is no way that as wonderful as technology is, it cannot ever measure up to being in the physical presence of someone. Don’t get me wrong, I love technology and it has made our transition to long distance much easier, but I have realized that someone being physically present with you is infinitely better. When I am having a bad day, I don’t just want to talk to Alex about it, I just want to sit with him and not say anything. A person can comfort you greatly just by being with you, and we lose that with technology. So even though technology is a great asset to relationships, we cannot forget the importance of being present with another person.

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