The digital age is upon us, and it has changed our lives in many ways. Technology simplifies our work environments, makes it easier to stay organized with calendars and contacts lists, and it affects our personal space too. We use digital media to store important pictures, play the songs that get us through our workouts and share special moments in our lives with family and friends. The digital age also helps love to bloom, and it is changing the way modern romances end too.
According to a 2013 study by Pew American Life Project, 59-percent of adults believe the Internet is a great resource for meeting a partner, and 29-percent of adults have met their mate on an online dating or social media site. While the Internet provides individuals with opportunities to
meet people they likely would not have encountered during day to day activities, it does present a downside. For one, online sites offer individuals opportunities to hide behind computers and pretend to be something that they are not. Women lie about their weight or age, and men conveniently forget to mention children or current relationships. In a recent study, as high as 51-percent of participants admitted to some level of dishonesty when it came to online dating.
Another concern with Internet dating is the immediate sense of intimacy that many individuals experience. When communicating through a computer screen, many are quick to reveal intimate details because conversations are immediate and emotional intensity is reduced compared to face-to-face meetings. This is the reason why so many feel that instant connection online, but it causes problems when individuals finally meet in person and find that their love interests are not quite what they believed.
It is common knowledge that breaking up is hard to do, and the digital age has simplified the act of saying goodbye in some ways and complicated it in others. A study conducted by WhatsYourPrice.com concluded that 88-percent of men and 18-percent of women have used text messages to call it quits. When individuals choose text, email or social media communication as their route for breaking up, it is often viewed as selfish, insulting or even ignorant versus breaking up via a hand written letter or in person conversation.
As relationships end, the impacts of the digital age complicate things even more. With tablets, smart phones and laptops, it is increasingly easy to keep digital possessions in hand. Digital photographs, song downloads, text messages and videos make it difficult for individuals to forget each other after they have said goodbye. Even when individuals try to dispose of these digital reminders, they often have a difficult time getting rid of everything because vast collections are stored on multiple devices and platforms making the deletion process long and painful. For individuals who do immediately dispose of everything, future regrets often occur because they have essentially scrubbed a portion of their life by discarding a significant number of memories from that period of time.
Keeping tabs on an ex after the breakup occurs is made easier by the digital age too. Research conducted by psychologist Tara Marshall, PhD found that constantly checking up on an ex via Facebook or other social media sites led to decreased personal growth, increased sexual feelings toward the ex and heightened levels of distress or bitterness over the breakup (Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 2012). Further, these behaviors are in some ways indicative of offline stalking according to a study by psychologist Amy Lyndon, PhD, and colleagues (Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 2011).
For individuals trying to work through the complications and negative ramifications of the digital age when it comes to starting and ending relationships, individual counseling can help. Sue Brazee is a licensed marriage and family therapist in Yorba Linda, California. She provides effective tools that empower you work through relationship dilemmas and overcome the personal challenges that the Internet and digital devices present.