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Love in Digital Age Offers Opportunity, Dangers

Digital connections can make - and break - relationships

Social media can make it easier to form romantic connections but there's also a down side.
Social media can make it easier to form romantic connections but there's also a down side.
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Faiza Elmasry

In today’s fast-paced world there are more ways to communicate than ever - e-mail, text messaging, Facebook, Twitter and other types of social media. Relationship experts say such connections can help fuel passion and have already changed the way people date and fall in love. Yet, technology can cause people to fall out of love, too.

Game changer

Digital connections have changed the dating game. As two young, single women from New York City, that's something Olivia Baniuszewicz  and Debra Goldstein learned firsthand.

"First of all we’re flirting more openly, a lot more often," says Baniuszewicz . "Things like your phone for texting, or even just the Internet on your phone just helping you plan a perfect night out."

"So we decided we needed to figure out the world of texting and we wrote a book about how to navigate through this new love connection," says Goldstein.

'Flirtexting: How to Text Your Way into His Heart' explores how texting has changed the dating scene.
'Flirtexting: How to Text Your Way into His Heart' explores how texting has changed the dating scene.

The two women named their book, "Flirtexting: How to Text Your Way into His Heart." During the course of their research, they interviewed dozens of people to find out what they thought about flirt-texting.

"It’s become like a convenient way for people to connect through busy, fast-paced lives," says Baniuszewicz. "Also, it eliminates the shyness factor. It makes us a lot more open to saying things that we normally wouldn’t in person."

Goldstein agrees. "It’s really cool. If you are in a long distance relationship, for I actually was, it really, really helps to stay connected."

Relationship expert David Coleman, who's known as the Dating Doctor, agrees - to a point.

"Still with things like Skype or I-chat and texting and phones - just all the things that are available - long distance relationships often don’t succeed," he says. "We really miss the other person’s presence. Up to a point, sure, I can see the other person on the screen, they can see me. We can keep a bit of our passion alive, but at some point in time, if we can’t be in each other’s physical presence, the pain of being in a long-distance relationship will finally outweigh the benefits of being in it."

Revolution

Coleman says technology has revolutionized the way people meet and date.

"You can Google someone, you can go on Facebook, you can go on LinkedIn, you can go on Twitter, you can find out so much about these people before you even say ‘Hello,’" he says. "There should never again be a ‘blind date’, unless someone has completely voided their life of any social media."

That’s why, Coleman says, people should be careful about the image they create for themselves online.

"If you go to most of younger women’s websites on Facebook, you will see their profiles, they got some provocative things put up there. So you have to be a bit careful of the pictures that you’re putting up. Never ever give people your land address and things like that, because you just don’t know who is reading that profile."

Coleman notes that even the older generations are dating digitally and finding love on-line.

"Many of them are finding their ex-high school sweethearts on Facebook or someone they used to date years and years and years ago. And those couples are reconnecting and they are marrying. Now conversely, people are finding past love on Facebook and telling their current spouses, ‘I’m so sorry, I thought I’d never find this person again, but Facebook brought us back together. We had something special and we want to try to have it again.’ I have a friend who is a lawyer. He says in most of his divorce cases now, Facebook is being cited as a reason for that divorce."

Word of caution

Lovers, Coleman warns, should also realize that e-mails and text messages can be a double edged sword.

"Let’s say that I say, ‘I don’t think we should be together anymore. I’m breaking up with you,’ and I text that. The person who gets that text message can read that over and over and over again. And the more they read it, the madder they get. That’s what social media has done. And conversely it can be, ‘I love you, I love you, I love you’ and they can go back and read that 50 times, too. So it works both ways."

With that caution in mind, Flirtexting authors Goldstein and Baniuszewicz have come up with some digital love do’s and don’ts.

"If somebody sends you a text message, you don’t have to respond back right away," says Goldstein. "In fact, we interviewed a lot of guys and they say that response time says a lot about the girl. Also abbreviations, our motto is 'if you don’t want a date, abbreviate.' So we say, spell your words out. You have the time to create a message that says exactly what you want to say in that space. And just because it’s accessible it doesn’t mean you need to be doing it 24/7. You do not want to get a marathon texting situation."

Baniuszewicz adds,"Have a healthy balance between everything; texting, Facebook, Twitter. It's a way to enhance a connection throughout the day. You need to use everything in moderation."

And, they add, even though texting is more convenient, writing a love letter, or sending a poem with a card gives a modern relationship a special personal touch that a message on Facebook just can’t match.

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