So, I have been talking to a guy for about 3 months now. We have very similar personalities…both outgoing, energetic, and bubbly. We are also huge talkers and enjoy spending time with one another. Until spring break, we saw each other practically everyday. However, for spring break we were a part. I went home and he traveled down to Florida with a group of his guy friends. For the first time, we did not have the ability to see each other and resorted to texting and snap chatting all the time. A few times we also face-timed.
Regardless if he will be my lifelong partner or just a good friend, I complained a few times to my dad about how much I missed “the boy”. Instead of getting a sympathetic response from him, he practically laughed in my face. Gee, thanks dad.
His reasoning: While in college in the 80’s, my parents met at James Madison University during RA training week. My mom was the beautiful, brunette junior and my dad was the quirky, lovable sophomore, who somehow got the older girl. They dated for two years until my mom graduated and left to attend graduate school at George Mason University. Being one year younger than her, my dad was left to finish out his senior year alone. They remained dating, yet were separated by a four-hour car drive.
So here is why my dad laughed at me…instead of complaining about the distance (like someone else I know), my parents made the best of it. They would write letters to each other, call each other on the phone, and (when they could afford to pay for gas) visit one another. The only difference between their relationship and mine though in college was technology.
Yep, good old technology allowed me to instant message and chat face to face with my “boyfriend” while we were a part. Unlike my parents, who would write letters and receive them several days later, I had the ability to stay connect with my significant other 24/7. It was wonderful!
Yet, I can’t help but wonder…has technology changed the way we establish and maintain communication in relationships during college?
I know a few of my JOMC peers have already covered this topic. However, I recently came across a Pew Research Internet Study that measured “how American couples use digital technology to manage life, logistics, and emotional intimacy within their relationships.” The results were astounding…as I read them, I couldn’t help but wonder if my “boo thing” and I are slowly becoming part of these statistical trends.
Here is what I found:
1. “Young adults are more likely to report feeling closer to their spouse or partner thanks to technology.
- 41% of 18-29 year olds in serious relationships have felt closer to their partner because of online or text message conversations.
2. Young adults are also more likely to report tension in their relationships over technology use
- 42% of cell-owning 18-29 year olds in serious relationships say their partner has been distracted by their mobile phone while they were together (25% of all couples say this).”
In regards to number one, I do believe that the ability to instant message and the easy access to digital tools has allowed me to stay connect to my partner. In doing so, I know where he is and what he is doing (don’t worry…this is vice versa). Having this information has allowed us to meet up more and stay in constant communication. I believe such communication has therefor helped us become closer.
On the other hand (concerning number two), when we are together…having our mobile devices (or any piece of technology for that matter) at the palm of our hands often interrupts our conversations. I will be the first to admit that sometimes when “my man” is speaking, and I receive an e-mail or message from my girlfriends, I focus my attention more on my phone than him. It is a horrible habit and very rude. My dad would argue then that our conversations are not nearly as meaningful as his were with my mom when they were in college. When my parents conversed, they did not have any piece of technology that got in the way of their discussions. So sure, we are able to have more conversations comparatively…but our devices make our conversations more interrupted and thus become fragmented.
With all this information, and my parent’s college relationship to compare, which is better:
a) A relationship with less conversations, that are more meaningful due to less technological use?
b) A relationship with more conversations, that are less meaningful due to more technological use?
I know some would disagree with me and say that our conversations today are no less meaningful than conversations in the 80’s. Yet, I am sure we can all admit that we have been in conversations with our significant other and do not catch a word of what they are saying because we are glued to our phones, tablets, laptops, etc.
So, yes, I do think that technological devices our reshaping youthful relationships…especially in college. I just hope that these relationships do not turn sour because of such technology.
Moral of the story then: ladies and gents, cherish your conversations with your partner and do not let technology get in the way of a happily ever after…cheeeeessssy, I know! 🙂