Advancements in technology and the rise of social media appear to have made us more connected than ever – but how is this affecting our real life relationships? Life Coach Directory look at the ways technology can help or hinder a relationship.
Picture the scene: It’s Valentine’s Day, you get home from work, thank your partner for their e-card and power up your laptop to get some last minute emails signed off. After dinner, you pick up your tablet and browse Facebook and Twitter while across the room your partner is glued to their Smartphone watching YouTube videos. Occasionally you glance up to complain that there is nothing on TV, but most of the evening is spent in silence.
Is this a relationship in trouble or an accurate portrait of a modern day relationship?
We asked visitors to Life Coach Directory if they thought technology was affecting our relationships, and the answer was a resounding yes with many respondents citing social media and miscommunication as relationship roadblocks1.
Of course others argue that there are ways that technology can help to strengthen connections; so does modern technology help or hinder relationships? In reality the answer is: a little bit of both. It isn’t necessarily technology that is the problem, more the way we use it.
How it can help:
One in five relationships now start with the click of a mouse, proving that when it comes to searching for love many of us are happy to do so online2. There are countless dating sites dedicated to every niche and preference you could possibly want, allowing singles the chance to browse potential suitors from the comfort of their own home.
Thinking about looking for love online? Relationship and life coach Madeline Corr has some pointers3:
- Before you get online, know your outcome. Know who you are, what you want and your non-negotiables.
- I promote the importance of pacing, even when you’re online – so think about timing when responding to emails, preferably 24 hours.
- If you’re meeting for a first date, again, know your outcome, which might be to prequalify or disqualify your date as say a life partner (if that’s what you want) and decide if you want to see them again.
Long distance relationships
Whether your partner lives far away, or you are separated by a temporary trip – technology can help you stay connected. Through the power of Skype and FaceTime you can see and speak to each other as often as you want, providing you both have Internet connection, while social networking sites allow you to bond and connect wherever you are in the world.
Random acts of affection
While telling your partner verbally how much you appreciate them is crucial in a relationship, being able to send them the odd text or picture message with the same sentiment can help to solidify bonds and smooth tensions.
How it can hinder:
Venting on social media
Talking to our friends about the trials and tribulations of a relationship helps us to gain perspective and feel emotionally lighter. Unfortunately now that a lot of our friendships are conducted from cyberspace, social networking sites become poor substitutes for real advice. As we vent about our partner online we invite judgement and opinion – often from complete strangers.
Social networks allow us to edit our lives as we see fit – we can tell the world about life’s sunnier moments while excluding the tears and fallouts. Seeing our friend’s seemingly perfect life unfold via stylised wedding shots and pregnancy announcements online can cause us to call our own relationships into question. If we let it, this can lead to jealousy, insecurity and conflict.
Being able to connect with people around the world is fantastic, but it can come with consequence. More and more couples are fighting over online friendships, and while there may not be any physical contact involved – emotional infidelity can ruin a relationship.
It is thought that over 90% of all communication is non-verbal, so when online messaging removes this factor, we find ourselves stranded with the bare bones of conversation. Ultimately this can lead to miscommunication, the seed of almost all conflict.
How we can stay connected (in real life)
The Internet can be a great tool if we use it correctly, the key is to know when it is helpful and when it isn’t. Some couples find that having at least one tech-free evening a week to focus on each other and talk honestly is helpful. Those who have a habit of airing their arguments online should try to take 24 hours before posting anything, by then you may have calmed down. Remembering that social networks are not true representations of real life is also key, so try to resist the urge to compare yourself to others online.
1 Results from 12 respondents to survey posted January 29th – February 19th.
2 Statistic sourced from Huffington Post.
3 Madeline Corr is a Surrey-based life coach with experience in relationship coaching.
For further information or to arrange an interview with a life coach, please contact Katherine Nicholls:
Tel: 01276 301239