Chapter 2 - Influences Subchapter: Technology

Intimate relationships online

Many people use the internet and dating apps to meet new partners for short or longer-term intimate relationships.

We’re no longer limited to people we know in real-life when seeking new partners. Online, we can look for relationships with people that share common interests, values, hopes and dreams.  We can connect with people we wouldn’t have the opportunity to meet just going about our day-to-day activities.

Because of ease of contact, online dating can accelerate how quickly a relationship develops and can help to maintain a connection when it’s not possible to meet in person.

Online dating can also be empowering for groups that may be marginalised or feel shunned by mainstream society. Finding new friends and potential partners, and achieving a sense of belonging and acceptance not found in day-to-day lives, can make a massive positive difference to a person’s sense of well-being.

Almost all relationships now have an online component to them. Some relationships start online and that’s where you get to know someone. Some relationships even exist entirely online. Some breakups even turn into renewed relationships again because of reconnecting online.

 

Frame 1 is posting a love letter. Frame 2 is typing a love message into a computer. Frame 3 is sending and receiving nude images.

 

Dating apps - the good and the bad

The flexibility and diversity that online dating brings to intimate relationships is a great thing for many people, but it’s important we take the time to understand and remedy problems introduced by this relatively new way of interacting with others.

 

The good

  • easy to get started
  • convenience and ease of access to a large number of potential matches
  • ability to determine common interests by messaging prior to meeting
  • meeting people outside your social circle
  • chance to control seriousness and speed of relationships
  • can take safety precautions before meeting
  • great for people that feel awkward in new social settings
  • removes the risk of face-to-face rejection.

 

The bad

  • getting abusive messages or being harassed
  • can be time-consuming looking through large numbers of profiles
  • it’s easy to be lied to about personal details – gender, age, marital status, interests
  • your search criteria can limit your ability to get compatible matches
  • can feel impersonal and missing the human connection.

 

Using the Relationship Field Model online

In Stop Ask Listen we say that everyone has a rich inner world.

We have to stop.

Ask what they want.

Listen to what they say.

We also have outer worlds and bodies, and all three of these interact and influence us in ways we often don’t notice or understand.

 

An illustrated character with two circles either side of them – one says 'Inner World', the other 'Outer World', and 'Body' is written on their torso.

 

When seeking, initiating and developing intimate relationships using websites or apps, we can’t see the other person – their facial expressions and body language.  We can’t easily know what they’re feeling or how they’re responding to things we might be messaging or sexting.

Once you’ve matched with someone, everything that follows is a shared decision. Shared decisions involve you and someone else. Shared decisions require that any shared action is negotiated.

 

 

I LOVE YOUR BIO, WANT TO CHAT?

The Field Model diagram with two anonymous characters having chosen Yes and in the Action Zone.

 

When both people are YES to the decision it can be acted on. But a yes only relates to the specific shared action – each new decision requires a separate yes. And you can change a yes to a no, or a maybe, at any time.

 

Together on social media

If you met your partner on a dating app, it’s likely you both use other social media platforms. Maybe one of you is a prolific poster, and the other browses and checks out what other people are posting. 

When you establish a new relationship it’s a good idea to discuss how you’ll manage yourselves online as a couple.

  • Do you change the relationship status in your social media accounts?
  • Do you tag each other in personal posts?
  • Do you tag each other into your online activities?
  • How much private information can you share about each other?
  • How much private information is the other person comfortable with you sharing about yourself?

 

Some people are totally comfortable with others knowing every tiny detail of their lives, and other people want to stay private. The most important thing is to communicate with your partner and agree how you will both manage your social media lives as a couple.

 

r u there?

In an intimate relationship there is a ME, a YOU and an US.

A healthy and respectful relationship is one where both individual time and shared couple time is acknowledged and considered. Our individual relationships with friends, family, interests and commitments are important and part of our identity, and our sense of belonging.

Just because we have the means to contact our partners whenever we feel like it, doesn’t mean that we should. Persistent requests to text or call every time one person is away from the other can quickly turn into harassment, even abuse.

 

An illustrated character dressed up for a party seeing messages on their phone which read, "Where R U?", "Call me?", and "Why won't you call me?"

 

Everyone needs personal space, and time apart is healthy.

Have a conversation with your partner about boundaries and let them know when you feel pressured into maintaining constant contact.