“The bonds that unite another person to our self-exist only in our mind.” -Marcel Proust
Taking out her mobile phone, Jenna stopped to think for a moment. Every day she sends her husband Kyle a brief text message just to reach out and let him know she’s thinking about him. Usually she texts, “Hiya,” “Thkg of u,” or “Hope ur day is going gr8!”
Jenna is not alone in her quest to stay connected to Kyle. Couples are chewing up the digital airways with a jaw dropping 1,002 texts and 400 emails to each other every year. That’s almost 3 texts and one email every day!
Clearly digital tools have not only been embraced, they are in demand, and while couples like Jenna and Kyle are tearing up the digital space with words and pictures galore, research shows that digital tools are actually WIDENING the gap between many partners. Although that might sound grim, I think there’s an opportunity buried in there. With a shift in perspective, a willingness to step outside of one’s comfort zone, and actually doing something different instead of just thinking about it, a couple just might find they can reverse this trend.
Jenna’s pause lasted just long enough for pieces of an idea she’d been turning over in her head for a while to fully take shape. She and Kyle had been together for nearly 10 years, and for the most part it had been really good. Lately, however, with the pressure of kids, home, and careers mounting, they’d been less present with each other. They knew it was a concern for both of them because they discussed it from time to time, but neither of them made a move to change things. They simply went on with the status quo. Hmmm…
With communication, family, and sex problems being cited as the second, third, and fourth respectively most common reasons for divorce, Jenna and Kyle have good reason to be concerned. In his extensive research on marital relationships, John Gottman, Ph.D. found the four negative patterns that cause divorce include criticism of a partner’s personality, contempt, defensiveness, and the one Jenna and Kyle will need to watch out for – stonewalling or emotional withdrawal.
Jenna had read a few articles and chatted with her girlfriends about how people are texting to flirt. While it seemed from what she read that a lot of people are “sexting” with people OTHER than their partners, she thought it might be fun to try it with Kyle. Actually, what she really thought was that her mobile phone could be like a sex toy or at least a teaser to using a sex toy with him. She wondered if they could use their mobile phone to connect like they did in the early days. It could be like she’s the “other woman” and he’s the “other man” which sounded a little weird to her but kind of sexy too. Yes, she’d like that. She’d like that a lot.
It’s not surprising that using her mobile phone to connect with Kyle appeals to Jenna. One study found that women typically use mobile phones to express affection and men typically use mobile phones to get information. Social media and digital tools offer a layer in between the interaction. It gives us time to pause, to think, to edit before we open our mouths. It also removes some of the reluctance and shyness we might feel in f2f interaction. Some research shows that women feel more comfortable with a layer in between her and the person with whom she is flirting that a mobile phone offers. With women texting and emailing pictures, provocative and otherwise, on a steady rise, it’s apparent the digital space makes women feel more daring and less embarrassed.
“…Female users tend to use the cell phone for expression of affection and to take advantage of the mobility of the wireless technology, whereas male users appear to use cell phones to seek information.” From Mobile Intimacy: Theories on the Economics of Emotion by Gerard C. Raiti
Could there be a dawn of a new kind of digital age where a couple can use digital means to get closer emotionally and physically? I think so, but it involves priming a process and taking some risks.
Understanding it can take up to 24 hours for a woman to get into the mood for sex, using a mobile phone to text flirty messages promotes a dialogue in her head that can get that ball in motion. If she starts THINKING about sex, then she can use her mobile phone to experiment and PLAY with what’s on her mind. IMAGINATION is a very powerful tool and texting on a mobile phone is a very powerful FACILITATOR.
“No time like the present,” Jenna thought as she typed and erased her first “sexting” message about 20 times. Getting out of her head was hard and scary, but she was determined. She worried he might think it’s silly or that he wouldn’t have time to “play the game.” But somebody had to do something, right??? Status quo just wasn’t going to cut it anymore. Plus doing something new was kind of exciting and daring.
Jenna finally pushed send after typing, “Miss me yet? When u c what I’m gonna do 2 u later u will! ”
A few minutes later, a wry smiled spread across Jenna’s face when she read Kyle’s response. “Hmmm…that sounds tasty. And I don’t mean food. ”
Jenna and Kyle are just getting started with exploring their relationship in a digital space, and from the sound of the texts, they are getting off to a good start. Texting, IM, chat threads in social media sites, playing games in couples sites like Tokii, and even email have moved the digital events from an individual activity to a shared experience. It’s through shared experiences that a couple can deepen trust and understanding that will get them through the rollercoaster of life.
So go on and mix it up a little. Grab that mobile phone and send your partner a little surprise message. You know you want to…
Check out our video Educational History of the “Pleasure” Device