We know that our world is becoming more and more influenced by technology every day, but how much is that affecting our relationships? I would guess that most people do not think about technology and relationships or “digital relationships” unless they are talking about online dating services. Robinson Meyer would like to argue that this thinking is incorrect in his article, “All Romantic Relationships are Digital Now.” In the article, Meyer brings up a survey where 72% of Americans in serious relationships- married or not -said that the internet had no real impact on the relationship. Although Meyer normally respects this survey group’s studies, he disagrees with the overall figure based on other smaller statistics that the same study showed. The survey also reported:
- “25 percent of married or partnered adults who text have texted their partner when they were both home together.”
- “21 percent of cell owners or internet users in a committed relationship have felt closer to their spouse or partner because of exchanges they had online or via text message.”
- “9 percent have resolved an argument with their partner online or by text message that they were having difficulty resolving in person.”
- “25 percent of cell phone owners in a marriage or partnership have felt their spouse or partner was distracted by their cell phone when they were together.”
- “8 percent of internet users in a committed relationship have had an argument with their spouse or partner about the amount of time one of them was spending online.”
Based on these numbers, it is hard to believe that almost three-quarters of American relationships have not been impacted by the internet or technology is some way. These numbers go even higher if you reduce the sample size to ages 18-29. Meyer states, “Of 18 to 29 year-olds in serious relationships, 41 percent say they have ‘have felt closer to their partner because of online or text message conversations.’ Nearly the same percent ‘say their partner has been distracted by their mobile phone while they were together.’ (Only 25 percent of all couples say that.)”
I know that I have personally experienced both good and bad effects of technology in my own relationship. For the last two years, Emily and I have lived a couple hours apart. This is not a huge distance by any means, but it does mean that we have had to get accustomed to a lot of our conversations being digital rather than face to face. At first, we had a lot of misunderstandings that lead to arguments that never should have happened because we were both reading things into the text messages that were not really there. Luckily we have figured out how to not do that, but I still think that this is a big problem with having every conversation over text or Facebook or whatever. The image to the right is a perfect representation of how I feel about having entire conversations over text. There is no way to read the other person’s emotions, but that does not mean that we do not try, and that is the problem. This makes texting in relationships a double edged sword. I hate having arguments over text, but I would rather have the occasional argument (that is usually my fault) and be able to have long distance conversations at any point in time than not be able to text Emily at all. I would definitely be part of the 41 percent of millennials that say they have felt closer to their partner because of text message conversations, and I am perfectly okay with that.
The real message to take away from this is that there is going to be a digital aspect to almost any relationship, and there is not anything wrong with that as long as we are aware of the problems that it can cause and activley try to avoid them.