Relationships and sexuality and Social Issues16 Jun 2010 11:08 am

Young love has always proven to be a potential tragedy, just ask Romeo and Juliet. Yet, while their tragedy had to do with a lack of communication I fear the current tragedies are often due to over communication.

Frankly, I’m so glad I’m not a young hormone ridden adolescent trying to start up a relationship. I had my first substantial relationship when I was in 7th grade. The relationship lasted about 6 or 7 months, thereby making it a rather successful venture. Yet, the main reason it lasted so long had a lot to do with the sparseness of contact.

Other than eating lunch together we had little opportunity to talk at school. Living in a home with only one land line we spoke on the phone less than an hour a week. Not having any access to a car made it hard to see her at her home or out in public. I would guess that maybe we saw each other a dozen times outside of school over the 6 months.

I seldom go to the malls, but my wife and I try to visit a few times a year just to keep in touch with local pop culture. The last few visits have been dominated by watching little pods of girls huddled together texting each other and guys. After a few minutes they walk and migrate a bit before settling in for another text fest.

In another part of the mall you see little pods of adolescent boys texting girls. In both pods you see kids sharing their texts with their friends. The girls squeal or say “ew” in response to many a shared text a girl receives from a boy, while the boy pods often try to goad each other into sending outrageous texts to a girl or try to dare the girl to send them some bawdy text or pic.

When I look back to my early adolescents I remember a time of intense emotions. It was a time full of awkward moments, when I often felt embarrassed by something I said or did. I remember great anxiety and nervousness when making a first phone call, or trying to push a relationship to the next stage. I also remember moments of intense exhilaration when a girl gave me the impression she wanted to be my girlfriend.

Feeling awkward or undesirable was more common than feeling confident and attractive. When I liked a girl I wanted to spend all my time with her, and I ached when we were apart. In times away from her I would mull over endlessly the next thing I would say to her, or imagine how I would act the next time I saw her.

I tremble when I think of my early adolescents if I would have had today’s immediate forms of communication such as email, cell phone, texts, etc. I can remember so many disasters I avoided by having time to think and prepare my words.

It is very rare that two people enter a relationship with the same amount of investment. I think this disparity is even more pronounced in adolescents. In young love it is common for one person to be infatuated and convinced they are in love and the other be just flattered or curious. In today’s world it is hard for the smitten person not to perpetually stay in close communication with their beloved.

This makes me consider the following question, What is the difference today between dating (courting) and stalking?

Modern technology just increases the likelihood that one person will consistently feel suffocated while the other is feeling rejected or frustrated. The lover will have so many opportunities to electronically court (badger?) their beloved. Their moments of angst and worry will most likely spur them to perpetually text, call and email their beloved. Without enforced time away from their beloved the lover will even more often say and do the wrong thing due to feelings of panic and hormonal desire.

Even for those able to show a little restraint, they may fall prey to the unusual pressure provided by the modern text world I’ve witnessed at the malls. Many of the relationships I had in adolescents were terminated by her “best” friends or her peer group in general. Our relationship could have been going along relatively smoothly but could terminate quite suddenly if one or a few of her friends made fun of me, or considered me uncool.

Most girls would move you into the category of “just friends” when faced with the prospect of having your relationship cause her to be excluded by her friends or lose her status in the group. In the modern text groups it is hard to imagine a boy going very long before one of the girls in her girlfriends entourage going “ew” or “gross” or making some official pronouncement of disgust over what he has texted her.

Heck, my first relationship in 7th grade probably would have lasted less than two days rather than 6 months with that type of scrutiny and pressure to perform.

The post has listed a few of the concerns I have regarding modern technologies impact on the length of young relationships as well as the added pressure it places on people to perpetually perform. Along with this I’ve mentioned the increased likelihood that the ease and pervasiveness of immediate communication will cause the lover to behave like a stalker when wooing the beloved.

Another subject for a later post might be the lack of depth relationships might foster when communication is instant and constant. So much depth and understanding of a relationship is born during times of reflection due to time spent away from your beloved. The majority of my love songs were created during extended periods away from my beloved, when I was allowed an opportunity to savor and appreciate what we had, and time to consider ways on how to improve and hone the beauty of our relationship.

Jim Guido

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