What impact has technology had on love and romance?

The evolvement of technology has changed our lives, it’s been said that society has become too reliant upon technology. With all sorts of information readily available at our fingertips; from weight loss, education, investing, cooking, travel, sport — technology is at the forefront of everything we do, so it’s no surprise we struggle to put our devices down! Even our approach towards dating and relationships, we’re in a world where we’re able to speak to multiple potentials and “test drive” them all before one is selected. Technology has not only altered how we communicate and connect, but also how we feel.

Dating in the digital age means you can pull out your phone and find a date faster than it would take to get glammed up for a night out. We’re living in a time where these technological advancements has made our lives easier and faster… but has it improved our chances of finding love and romance? Personally, while I can’t say for a fact that chivalry is dead, I can say that technology has introduced a few obstacles when attempting to forge genuine, deeper connections.

According to a recent study by eHarmony, 67% of UK adults crave more romance in their lives. By nature most people want to find the ultimate form of human connection, the kind that lasts a lifetime. People want love and they want to be loved in return. So it’s always a breath of fresh air whenever when I hear of a virtual romantic success story. However it seems there are far more stories on the trials and tribulations of why people have suddenly become so inept at making relationships last. Have we run out of time for romance? Has technology made people lazy in love? Is technology actually bringing us closer together or driving us apart? I have so many questions and not enough answers… nonetheless in today’s blog post, I’ve gathered together a few points (benefits and drawbacks) on how the Information Age has changed the dating and relationship realm.

DON’T WORRY, THERE’S PLENTY OF FISH IN THE SEA!
Ah the old cliché… typically used as words of encouragement after a breakup. However for newly singletons, there really are plenty of fish in the sea! These days it’s super easy to sign up to a dating site, and within minutes you’ll find yourself a pile of matches waiting to be swiped through. Online dating is great as it gives us access to many more potential partners outside of our social circle.

ERM, THERE’S TOO MANY FISH IN THE SEA!
And while it’s great to have choice, too many options can be overwhelming. Research has shown that individuals who have a larger pool of potential partners were more likely to change their minds and choose a someone else to speak to within a week! There is also the aspect of people being overly judgemental, if it’s not the off-putting photos then it’s their inability to write about themselves well or it’s their terrible grammar/spelling. Regardless of what the minor “issue” is, pickiness can be problematic, thus humans have become easily disposable.

GREAT FOR BUSY BEES
For those who have less time to dedicate to meeting people, technology could be the very thing that’ll help you meet your ideal partner when it’s most convenient for you. A bit of downtime before going bed or perhaps during a less busier week… finding romance is just a couple clicks away.

SO NEAR YET SO FAR
For those in a long distance relationship, technology is a Godsend! Gone are the days when people had to wait for a long time before seeing or hearing from their partners. Being able to exchange video calls and text messages on a daily basis means long distances relationships have become stronger than before. 

BE SPECIFIC
If you want to meet someone with similar core values, faith, interests, background and preferences, there’s most certainly a dating app out there designed to fit your requirements. No matter if you’re after a quick hookup, a threesome, or an affair… you name it, the digital dating realm has got it. Did you know there’s a dating app for Vegans, for Vegetarians, for women who are really into men facial hair, for people who believe in the magic of astrology and obsessed with horoscopes, for farmers, for bacon lovers, for sci-fi lovers, and my all time favourite — the SugarD app! 😆👴🏻

ATTENTION ADDICTION
We all want validation in some form — for each match, each like, each message, we’re bound start feeling ourselves a bit! As the rush of excitement happens, the dopamine our brain produces spikes, so it’s not uncommon for people to get addicted to these “hits” and constantly check in for more. Sometimes people aren’t actually interested in the “match”, they just like what it does for their ego boost.

ROMANCE TAKES TIME… TEXTING TAKES SECONDS
Communication is now easier than ever before, but there’s an argument that it has also ruined romance. Emojis are no love letters, and text messages is where most people feel their partners are falling short. It’s seen as a bare-minimum form for communication, and unsurprisingly isn’t valued as highly as a phone call. Quick messages are great for firming up Friday night dinner plans, but for expressing heartfelt sentiments? Not so much.

FEEDING THE ANXIOUS MIND
Living in a fast-paced digital world where we can get instant responses, some individuals rely heavily on the timings and meanings of each message to get a better understanding of how the other person feels or where they stand. Trust me, sometimes it’s not that deep! Then you have the presence of social media… a tempting space for those who like to play detective — the element of “stalking” allows people to get to know someone before even meeting! Yikes! No matter what stage you’re at in a relationship, having the ability to keep tabs on the other person on a daily basis not only creates worry and anxiety for yourself, but it can also become an obsessive, unhealthy habit.

AVOIDANCE OF REAL LIFE INTERACTION
Technology tends to be used as a means to avoid having real-life conversations, and it occurs more often than you’d think! When it comes to uncomfortable conversations, people would rather take the passive-aggressive approach, making statements which they wouldn’t dare make face-to-face. Or in some cases, completely dismiss everything and “ghost” 👻

I’M SORRY… WHO ARE YOU?
You can talk to someone for days, weeks, or months before meeting someone face-to-face. And the problem here is hardly an earth-shattering revelation… people lie on their online dating profiles! Okay not everyone lies or is purposely trying to mislead you but when we get to know someone for a significant period of time from behind our screens, we end up basing our connection on feelings that haven’t been reinforced by in-real-life experiences — thus we don’t get to see the full picture of who they are. There’s nothing wrong with meeting someone and developing an attachment to them online, but it’s always best to solidify your relationship face-to-face.

Conclusion

When we look at how technology has shaped the dating landscape, the overarching view is pretty negative. However based on some of my points above, I believe technology for some has created a new etiquette to romance and has enabled us to cast our nets a lot wider, opening opportunities to meet people we’d otherwise would not have met.

I think there are other factors we need to consider when putting our thoughts across. The generation we fall in will cause a difference of opinion. For a true traditionalist, dating apps might sound daunting. Once upon a time, courtship meant focusing on one person, picking up the telephone and asking them on a date… and if you’re in luck, you might be greeted with a bunch of flowers on the first meet. Today, you simply drop a quick message which will go along the lines of: “Hey you good? Free tomorrow at 7pm? Wanna have dinner?” — then hope for the best. If that fails then there’s always option 2, 3 or 4!

The popularity of technology has helped us create many connections, but these generally lack quality and substance. Communication is so fast and easy now that it’s removed the ‘thrill of the chase’ and killed romance somewhat. It seems as though the “games”, the ego boosts, the non-committal attitudes/behaviours, and the time-saving efficient nature of modern dating has become more important than actually finding a partner.

Tips for dating online safely and successfully.

I was up the other night until ungodly hours of the morning obsessively binging on a Netflix series called “Dirty John”. I haven’t been hooked on a show since Game of Thrones but it was honestly so gripping! Based on a true crime story, it’s about a manipulative, sociopathic con man who uses dating sites to seduce and extort women. It highlighted how the early warning signals aren’t always clear when you’re blinded by love. I highly recommend adding to your watchlist if you haven’t seen it yet!

After blitzing through the show in two days, experiencing what felt like an emotional rollercoaster, I was left gobsmacked knowing that people like him exist in the real world! From there I felt really inspired to write this post on how to protect yourself when looking for love online.

No matter what age you are, the online world has changed the way we form romantic relationships. Typically before these dating apps came on the scene, you’d meet people through friends, at work or from social events. Don’t get me wrong, this still happens but as we entered the era of social media and online dating, it’s a different kind of ball game. The anonymity of being behind a screen allows people to mould themselves into something they’re not — from hiding parts of their personality, spitting harmless lies about their height or weight, using fake names and missing out information about their children or marital status! If we’re not careful enough, we might end up being a victim of “catfishing” or worse, out of pocket and broken-hearted.

Deception is on this Earth

According to a recent study by Kaspersky, 55% of online daters have experienced some form of threat or problem with another party. While in a separate study ran by members of Michigan State University and Cornell University, 81% of online daters are untruthful about themselves in their profiles! That’s a high frigging stat! Online dating has clearly created a shift so it’s crucial to consider the potential dangers involved. When we start conversing with a new match, it allows us to connect and get to know someone without actually getting to know them — and that illusion of connection can make online dating pretty dangerous, thus we should think twice before giving away too much detail about ourselves.

Date safe

The experience of online dating should be enjoyable; however personal safety must come first. I would say the majority of people using dating apps have good intentions… yet how do we deal with the handful of those who don’t? Remember, you’re never responsible for the predatory or disrespectful behaviour of others — but there are things you can do to protect yourself when you’re interacting with a stranger. Next time you log back into Tinder, Bumble, Hinge, etc., I urge you to keep the following safety tips in mind.

HOLD BACK
It’s natural to want to impress someone new, you might disclose your interests, your job and industry, but you should never give out details such as your home/work address, what assets you own, bank information, email address, phone number… at least until you’ve established that the person you’re speaking with is truly who they say they are. Even then, I’d advise to stay on the side of precaution.

PHOTO SHARING
Don’t invite unwanted attention. If it’s your profile pictures or photos you’re sending to your matches, think before you let that photo land in their hands. Sharing naked or provocative images can lead to risky situations that are beyond your control, you just can’t guarantee that they won’t share it around with their friends or post it online for others to discover.

PUBLIC PLACES
No matter how charming or “genuine” your potential might appear… meet in public! Don’t send them an invitation to come to your place, and if they insist on inviting you around to theirs or suggest picking you from yours, I’d say it’s a red flag! 🚩 When you meet up, pick a venue where there are lots of people around, try to ensure good phone signal (and make sure you have full battery prior to your date!) It’s also worth meeting somewhere that you’re familiar with so you know how to get back home.

TELL A FRIEND… OR TWO
Before the date, let your bestie or family member (or both) know who you’re meeting, what you’re doing and where you’re going. Usually when my date goes to the restroom, I use that opportunity to drop a quick message to my friend and let them know how things are going.

VIDEO DATE
Most dating apps now have video functionality so I’d use it to your advantage. If not, then there are plenty of other video platforms, ie. Zoom, Skype. The conversation doesn’t have to be long but at the very least, you know you’re not getting catfished! A video call will also help you solidify initial attraction, get a gauge on their body language, and get a feel for how the conversation flows.

ARRANGE YOUR OWN MODE OF TRANSPORT
Finally, when you’re going to meet your date… use your own car, order a cab or get public transport — there and back! This lowers the risk of putting yourself in an uneasy or even dangerous situation. It’s best to stay in control over where you go. Even if your date offers to pick you up or drop you off, when you say “no”, they should respect your decision. And if they get funny about it… I have two words: red flag! 🚩

I’ve been “catfished” once before but thankfully nothing sinister came from it. I have to say, it was very odd and I was quite taken back! If your intuition tells you something is off or you feel uncomfortable, just block/delete/report them. But if you’re physically with the person, your safety is key, so there’s nothing wrong with ending a date early and going home. Make your excuse and leave!

Intuition or paranoia?

How do you tell the difference between intuition and paranoia? I have wondered this so much myself and I like to think I have an answer. Before I throw my thoughts out there, let me provide the definitions as they are remotely not the same thing… yet somehow many people manage to confuse the two. Intuition: the ability to understand something instinctively, without the need for conscious reasoning. Paranoia: suspicion and mistrust of people or their actions without evidence or justification.

If you’re generally a worrisome person and an over-thinker it’s challenging to distinguish between self-generated feelings and intuitive perceptions. As someone with a fair amount of anxiety (much as I don’t like admitting it), I’m constantly questioning whether my inner thoughts are simply a product of my anxious mind due to past experiences, or something more intuitive and real. It’s endlessly frustrating for me to express my worries and concerns to others, then receive advice like, “You just have to trust your gut.” To be honest, that doesn’t help a huge amount. It’s like when you’re angry and someone tells you to “calm down” 😒

If you’ve ever experienced the kind of paranoia that makes little sense to anyone but you, you know that trusting the voice inside your head is a lot more difficult than it seems. Research has found that intuitive decision making is impaired for those who are in a state of anxiety. With this in mind, does it mean there is no such thing as “trusting your gut” if you’re an individual who suffers from anxiety/paranoia?

Discerning between the two

Whenever I feel like my “intuition” is kicking in, I have all sorts of mental and physical reactions. My heart rate speeds up, I struggle to sleep, my concentration levels drop, I lose my appetite, I become snappy towards others and my mind begins to spiral. As I read back on my last sentence, it definitely sounds like anxiety to me… but in the moment, the differences between anxiety symptoms and gut reactions are blurred, both can feel one in the same.

There has been multiple occasions where I’ve mistaken my paranoia for a “gut feeling”. The last incident of this was a couple weeks ago where I very badly overacted towards a situation and went into full crazy bitch mode. What added fuel to the fire was the lack of communication towards the other party. Thankfully things were resolved in the end but in no way did I feel good about my behaviour or attitude, it was poor form on my part but that particular moment was certainly a turning point and massive learning curve.

Obsessive and demanding vs. Calm and subtle

So how can we prevent ourselves from freaking out or jumping to conclusions?
How can we get through the murky waters and understand what’s what?

 Intuition and paranoia feel like inner tugs, prompts and “knowing”, but the source is different. It’s important to recognise that paranoia is a thought process which is believed to be heavily influenced by anxiety, insecurity or fear, often to the point of delusion and irrationality. If we can get to a stage where we’re in touch with ourselves enough to know when those aspects are triggered, then we’re more likely able to figure this out — of course it comes with time, practice and a certain level of self-awareness.

I can’t stress enough how much communication helps; and I don’t mean asking friends and family for advice regarding the issues you feel concerned about. I mean having a deep, personal conversation where you really open up about negative life experiences, your childhood, past traumas, mental health… basically anything that might have impacted your character/behaviour over time. It’s a great and vital opportunity to learn about yourself. If you have someone you can trust and feel comfortable around then nominate them to be your “support”. Otherwise speak with a therapist, it may even be better to share this information with someone who doesn’t really know you, won’t be biased or say what you want to hear. Then once you get things off your chest, you can start gathering tools to better cope with any internal issues, therefore ensuring that it will no longer get in the way of your intuition. Here are a few other things to keep in mind.

1. Based on what I’ve felt in the past, paranoia is obsessive and demanding. It’s when the feeling takes up too much of your thoughts and energy. Paranoia tends to last for much longer — hours, days, weeks! It’s intense; it’ll keep you up at night, it’ll give you mood swings, you’ll feel on edge and it’ll send you straight into fight, flight mode. Whereas intuition is immediate, calm, subtle, like a small itch but fades in time if it isn’t scratched.

2. Paranoia is negative and fear-based. It usually presents itself as “what-if” and often future-focused in a very unhealthy way. If your head is filled with hypotheticals, worst case scenarios and you’re constantly honing in on things you can’t control… then it’s likely not your gut instinct. Intuition looks at the present and will come from a clear head and calm mind.

3. While both paranoia and intuition can create an unsettled feeling, paranoia will lean more towards stress and uncertainty — while intuition will feel more reasonable and concrete. I find that if you’re going back and forth, constantly undecided on what to do, then whatever is on the mind is likely anxiety-fueled.

Final thoughts

Feeling emotions is a natural part of being human but when the emotions start controlling us, it’s extremely difficult to tell the difference between trustworthy intuition and untrustworthy paranoia. But I always try my best to give people the benefit of the doubt, so I don’t think I’m paranoid. While you’re battling between head and heart, it’s tempting to follow your head because that’s where your “logic” lies but the mind’s ability to manifest is powerful enough that we’ll believe our fears which then becomes our reality.

If you’ve had a troublesome past then I think there’s little use trying to figure things out; for an over-thinking/worrier there is much greater use in speaking to the person directly and discuss the feelings you’re experiencing, that way you can at least verify reality and learn to trust as you go along. Trying to decide whether it’s intuition or paranoia just adds another layer to the anxiety and doubt, which will not help in building a fruitful relationship or a successful future together.