We live in a connected world. Most of us can't go a day without sending a text or checking Facebook. Whether you're sitting in front of the TV or cruising the mall, you're never unreachable.
Despite this, it's not uncommon for some of us to feel oddly isolated. “Connection” becomes noise. We're so busy talking we forget to listen. We show people we care by clicking a “thumbs up” button. Are we losing touch?
When being “connected” is the status quo, how can we send the message that we're really connected?
What We're Missing
We're not slamming the benefits of modern technology, but it's worth pointing out some of the things that it can't offer.
- Something Tangible – The most tangible thing modern technology can give us is a picture we can slide across a screen with our fingertips. It doesn't give us something we can touch or smell. It doesn't give us something we can see without looking at the same screen we use to watch cat videos and do our taxes. It's not “real.”
- Uniqueness – It may be true that we can use modern technology to share something truly unique, something that we thought of ourselves. But, more often than not, we use it to share images and videos created by other people, and already seen by thousands. Even when it's our own words, personality is lost. When was the last time you got a text message that felt truly unique. There's an air of “sameness” that comes with every message we get.
- Listening – When our posts and tweets go out to a faceless crowd, and our inboxes and streams are overflowing with more information than we can possibly absorb, we lose the ability to listen. Sometimes we send messages out into the ether, hoping somebody will see them and respond in a way that makes us feel like they care.
- Conversation – While modern technology is making media start to look more like a conversation than a broadcast, in some ways our personal conversations feel like they're going in the opposite direction. It's becoming more common to see two people at a dinner table texting, and less common to see two people looking into each other's eyes, listening to each other, and building off of each other's words.
Back to Basics
There's no point in complaining about all of this, of course. The real question here is “what does it take to start building true connection?” The answer isn't necessarily abandoning modern technology. But it does mean taking a step back and trying something different every once in a while.
According to Dr Terri Orbuch, the idea that healthy married couples don't have fights is nonsense. Instead, she believes it has far more to do with 5 important principles. These same principles can carry over into any kind of relationship.
- Expectations – The success of a relationship has more to do with whether expectations are being met than whether fights are happening. It's more about frustration than conflict.
- Affirmations – People hate it when they feel taken for granted. They need to be reminded that they are valuable and important. Surprisingly, this is often even more true for men than women, since men are less likely to be told these kinds of things.
- Understanding – Almost all couples will say that they “communicate,” but this often comes down to mundane things like paying the bills and taking care of the house. For a relationship to work, people need to understand what each other are thinking about.
- Novelty – When a relationship gets into a rut, it's often because things starting getting too predictable. Introducing something unexpected can do a lot to improve a relationship.
- Pros Over Cons – A healthy relationship has about five positive experiences for every one negative experience.
Notice how difficult it can be to accomplish any of these goals with modern technology. It's not impossible, but the impact isn't the same.
Giving Flowers, a Solution?
It would be foolish to claim that simply sending flowers alone would be enough to start or rekindle a relationship. But it would be even more foolish to think that sending flowers is no more meaningful than sending a text, or that it shouldn't be an important part of a relationship building effort.
To see why, here's how flowers can play an important part in each of the 5 principles mentioned above:
- Expectations – If you've recently discovered that you weren't meeting your partner's expectations, and you want to show that you are committed to making a change, flowers can be a powerful way to do so.
- Affirmations – Has there ever been a better way to remind somebody that they are special to you?
- Understanding – A note is a great way to put your understanding into words, and a bouquet makes the effort more tangible.
- Novelty – How long has it been sent you've sent flowers? If it's been a while, it's a great way to bring a little surprise into the relationship, especially if there's no reason in particular to expect them. And if you have sent flowers recently, sending a unique type of flower can make the gift more meaningful.
- Pros Over Cons – It would certainly be a mistake to just send flowers five times for every negative experience you have in your relationship, but making them a part of your effort to have more positive experiences can be very helpful.
Technology has given us many wonderful things, but when it comes to relationships, it's often more an obstacle than anything else.
Is it time to bring flowers back into your relationship? What other ways can you think of to bring genuine connection back into you lives?