Kristin is guest blogging with us today about Dating. Yes, this website is about Marriage but hindsight is 20/20, right? We want to pass along relational suggestions to those who are dating or even engaged, in hopes they will create even stronger marriages. In today’s blog, Kristin takes us down the path of being ‘smart’ when using your smartphone. This is a post we all can benefit from whether you are single, dating, engaged or married.
Now looking back, the decisions we made in dating determined our path for a lifetime. What would you have done differently? What would you share with your single/dating friends?
There’s no doubt that the Internet has changed modern life. In the blink of an eye, we can look up obscure information, order groceries, or connect with old friends. With the advent of dating apps, even true love is at our fingertips — or so we’re told. But how can single Christians find their way from that first swipe right of interest on an app to long-lasting, God-honoring love?
Kristin Fry has her share of laugh-out-loud and cringe-worthy dating app stories, and she knows the fatigue that can come with digital dating.
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A few years ago, I, Kristin Fry, was home visiting my family for Christmas. I had semi-ended a relationship with someone days prior. Semi-ended meaning we were going to put the brakes on being exclusive, but he was still going to text. All the time. As much as I didn’t want to respond, it was Christmas, the holiday that brings up an entirely different layer of emotions around being alone. I responded. While the family was sitting around the fireplace on Christmas Eve, I was upstairs involved in screen after screen of text conversation. With someone I wasn’t even dating anymore.
Today’s dating scene adds a layer of complication that previous generations didn’t have: smart phones. The ability to communicate is at our fingertips; literally, at our fingertips. Relationships can be complicated enough. Let’s not add to that with our methods of communication.
It can feel easier to shoot off a text. Not only is it quicker, but it affords us the opportunity to say things that we may not feel as comfortable saying in person. How many times have you tried to muster up the strength to bring up a point of tension with the guy you were dating—you even went over the talking points with your girlfriend beforehand—but when push came to shove, you defaulted to a text? Texting just seemed easier, didn’t it? You could say what you wanted to say without the consequences of the reaction on his face. We’ve all done it. I certainly have. And men have done it to me.
But that’s where we confuse ourselves. If we wouldn’t say it in person, then we definitely shouldn’t say it over text. If you find yourself texting commentary of a serious nature minutes after you just spent time with that person, let that serve as a warning to you that you’re hiding behind a screen. It’s not fair to the other person. Additionally, if you receive multiple screens on the subject matter, after you’ve left someone in person, you are in the danger zone.
It takes two people to have a face-to-face conversation, though. I once had a guy refuse to have a conversation with me. I had asked to meet up and talk. He claimed to be too busy. There was just “way too much” going on for him to spare an hour. I convinced him it was important, so he caved and gave me fifteen minutes. How generous. I asked why he didn’t want to talk to me in person. His answer: this was his way of “protecting” the relationship, by giving us space and not talking about it. That is the most dysfunctional thing I’ve ever heard. Trust me, I recognized it as soon as it came out of his mouth. That was also the last conversation he and I ever had. If someone does that to you, don’t fall for it. It’s a sign of immaturity.
If someone tells you they are too busy to talk, but they’re happy to text about it, they’re lying. We all make time for the things that are most important to us, regardless of how busy we are. What he is communicating is that you are not important enough to make time for. I would encourage you to place strong boundaries around your text interactions. Specifically, if he tries to engage in a tough topic over text, your reply should simply be: “I’m happy to talk about this in person.” Trust me, I get it. It’s hard to not engage in text exchanges of a personal nature when your mind is spinning with comebacks or additional points. We want to say it now and not have to wait.
Having hard conversations in person, and not over text, takes a certain level of vulnerability and trust. And vulnerability is a key to healthy, lasting relationships. When you commit to face-to-face conversations, you are also committing to growing in your trust in the person. Trust that you can be honest with him and he won’t shy away, ignore you, or leave.
The truth is that learning to have healthy dialogue takes time and intention. We each have our own unique styles of communicating things because we have individual experiences that form the way we see the world, people, and relationships. Part of relationships is learning how to build a bridge between two divergent communication styles so that each person feels heard, understood, and valued—even if it means we don’t always see eye to eye.
With something that important, wouldn’t you want to do that in person?
Please comment below on your thoughts about texting and dating. How has texting changed, if any, as a married couple?
Kristin Fry lives in Atlanta, where she serves with North Point Ministries, the ReThink group, and Church.org. Her book, Beyond The Swipe: Honoring God, Respecting Yourself, and Finding the Right Match is available April 24, 2018.
Click on image to pre-order the book from Amazon!