Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Is Technology Messing Up Your Love Life?

Are you using the internet to find out about your date before you even meet? Do you over-text? Did you 'friend' a potential date too quickly? How to navigate your love life given the tech-heavy reality of dating in 2010.

By Dave Singleton

Is Internet technology messing up your love life?/Is Internet technology messing up your love life?

Is technology complicating your love life, leaving you just one click away from a romantic meltdown?
If so, you are not alone.
The truth is that some aspects of dating are changing as often as updates for the iPhone. Warp-speed transformations, especially in the ways we communicate, make dating today easier in some ways and more complicated in others.
It also makes new technology the Pandora’s box of modern romance. Once you start texting, Internet stalking, and friending dates on Facebook, you’ve opened the box – and there’s no turning back.
We are supposed to manage technology; it’s not supposed to manage us. But it seems like not everyone has gotten the memo, or text message, about this.

It’s clear that three relatively recent technological trends, in particular – text messaging, searching online for information about your dates, and compulsive use of social networking sites – are truly wreaking havoc on love lives. These three remind me of the three witches in Macbeth, described as “lurking like dark thoughts and unconscious temptations to evil.” So before you make your next dating move, don’t let temptation get the upper hand. Step away from your computer and PDA and consciously rethink your approach to these three dating challenges.

Text Messaging: When It’s Acceptable, When It’s Not
Text messages are like other forms of impersonal communication, but worse. At least with email you can more fully express yourself. You aren’t stuck with a limited palette of emoticons, acronyms and just a few, probably misspelled words. But make no mistake: texts and emails are devoid of irony, tone, humor or any of the key essential ingredients of communication. The BlackBerry, Treo and iPhone look sleek and smart, but it’s amazing how many dumbed-down, modern-day applications they’ve spawned.
Sure, text messaging has helpful uses: “What time does the party start?” or “I’m running 15 minutes late.” For many, it’s a fun way to flirt, and if your flirting leads to a hookup or a follow-up, it can be a better – shorter, thus safer – communication tool than a lengthy email or an impulsive phone call.
But does dating these days mean U R A SLV 2 TXT? According to dating coach David Wygant, “For those of you who use text messaging as a form of communication with someone you’re dating, text messaging is the most abused and misinterpreted form of communication out there.”

Texts are a terrible way to convey bad news. Don’t share harsh information, cancel a plan or be rude via a text message. If there’s an emotionally charged issue you want to discuss, do it face-to-face or at least by telephone.
Are we forgetting that nothing replaces in-person interaction? Text messages, emails and IMs have their place, but nothing replaces eye contact, hearing each other’s voice and physical, nonverbal communication. Experts say that 80 percent of all effective communication is nonverbal, so where does that leave text messaging? At the bottom.
While you can’t stop the texting craze, can you train your dates that you won’t respond to every text? If your date is dependent on text messaging and you aren’t, make your stance clear right away. Tell your dates up front that they shouldn’t assume you got a text message unless you text or call them back.

Don’t Friend Your Dates Too Soon
Prolific social networkers have different definitions of the term friend, ranging from lifelong pals to acquaintances they met at a party last night. But let’s be clear that dates belong in a special “handle with care” category.
If you friend a date early on, you risk learning too much too soon. Your goal should be to spend time together without your entire social networks lurking over your shoulders.
It’s natural to want to know more about someone you like, but learning about a love interest through messages from random people practically begs your imagination to run wild. Is he or she seeing any of the hotties who post wall comments? What’s he doing on Tuesday night? How does she feel about the latest news? Comments on a person’s wall will be out of context. You’ll make unfounded assumptions. Your curiosity will be piqued but unsatisfied. Resentment will build when you can’t express your feelings because, of course, someone else’s Facebook life is none of your business — at least not yet.

Stop Stalking Your Date as if You Were a Private Detective on a Case
OK, I’ll admit that stalking is a too-harsh term. So let’s call it “stalking lite.” What I’m talking about is a romantic fixation that you act on to your dating detriment.
Snooping around online is just too easy, isn’t it? All you have to do is type your date’s name in the search box and see what comes up. But what starts out as an incredibly easy way to find out information about Mr. or Ms. Right can turn quickly into an investigation gone wrong. Conveying the results of your search to your date over a romantic bottle of champagne will take the fizz out of your evening faster than a popping cork. Keeping what you’ve learned to yourself makes you harbor a secret. Don’t you agree that neither are very attractive options?

You don’t want to end up with what I call “Search Engine Remorse,” so stop the Nancy Drew-style sleuthing and leave the discoveries to those shared – in the right setting, over a normal progression of time – during dinner for two.

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