On Feb 16th, we held a dinner on “Modern Love,” about the intersection of technology and dating… about what technology enables, alters, hinders, and creates in the area of love.
CTSTers were keen to discuss online dating experiences, the kind of connection technology encourages or discourages, changing definitions of love, miscommunications, hiding or sharing different parts of the self, porn, and more.
As you read, notice what is useful to you — notice what you disagree with, and where that disagreement is coming from. These questions and takeaways are not meant to support one position or another, but as raw ingredients for new thoughts and reflections!
TAKEAWAYS & QUESTIONS
*Decide to make the thoughts below useful to you. Notice what excites and intrigues you — notice what you passionately disagree with and why that is. These are all jumping off points for reflection, rather than “truths.”
Before the dinner, guests wrote down what they wanted to discuss. We lumped those into 5 big categories:
- Current phenomenon: the “Tinder Apocalypse,” hook up culture, transactional relationships
- Interaction via technology: new communication, miscommunication, emoticons, sense of connection
- Online identities: personas, opportunity to hide or reveal, opportunity to be or to pretend
- Expectations: explaining to parents, change in relationship structures (ie non-monogamy), learning from porn and media
- Meanings: changing and exploring definitions of love, dating, what we want, the one, the future
How is the topics of Modern Love, dating, and technology connected to the many other things that surfaced? Here are a few possibilities. We found that being more aware of our own changing beliefs and expectations made it easier to understand and connect with others.
- What do I believe about sex? When do I believe people “should” have sex or “should not” have sex? What does it mean for me? What does having no, little, a lot, etc of sex mean? How does it relate to intimacy, love, or relationships?
- What do I believe about love? Is it chemistry, a choice, commitment, generous, etc? What kind of companionship do I want from another person? How has that changed?
- What do I believe about relationships? What kind of relationship is most energising, attractive, sustaining, engaging, easy, etc for me? How “should” courtship or dating look? How do I form my impressions of another person, or make decisions about them?
- What do I believe about intimacy? When do I want to feel intimate? Where do I think it is lacking or impossible? Where is it necessary or fundamental?
- What do I believe about the role of technology? How do I want to see technology playing its part in my life? Are there somethings I believe technology “should not” do, or “cannot” provide? How does trust, authenticity, or chemistry look like online?
Impact of technology
Tinder makes me feel powerful because I am making a quick series of judgements. What do I notice about how I form impressions of another person? What features of their text, images, chat, videos, voice, etc do I judge, and what meanings do I assign them?
Online chat is a much faster pace of conversation — after a few messages, it can feel like there is nothing more to say until we meet.
Maybe online profiles are where we hide. But maybe an online persona allows us to slowly become more of who we want to me.
Online dating has only had a negative impact on how I relate to those people. It has felt superficial and disconnected.
Perhaps this is just a desire for efficiency. That could imply that we don’t want to spend our time “looking,” that we can make the search much easier by simplifying people into profiles.
We can say the technology sucks for creating intimacy… so in the end, the work is up to us. To connect with others, or to make technology work how we want it to, the work is up to us.
Love, Sex, Culture
Some people have mentioned that they want transactional relationships — sex and enjoyment, rather than getting to know another person, rather than interaction.
What I desire is a dating method that brings together people who value post-conventional intimacy/fun, creativity, and connectivity.
We can say we fall in love with an online persona in online dating… but isn’t that what we do in real life? Fall in love with a persona of a person? The journey is then if we can be open to the true, changing person behind it.
Does love ‘happen’ to us or is it a choice, or something else? Online dating apps usually assume its the first — helping people sort through more people faster to find “the one,” or “one of the ones.”
There’s a romantic notion that love is forever. Is that going away? Replaced by a belief that love is cheesy and unattainable?
Connection & intimacy
I have the most fun on a date when I am open to surprise and ambiguity.
I can be fully intimate with another only when I am not afraid of being intimate and honest with myself.
Intimacy is sometimes best left unspoken, the connection of the mind, body and spirit.
Intimate connections come from knowing, accepting and loving someone’s ‘true self’, the spontaneous, unedited version of a person from face to face interaction.
Have we given real life a chance? At discovering people we like in person, rather than scouring for them on the internet?
We can say we desire connection and authenticity, but in practice it seems like we may not desire it all the time. I am not constantly open to seeing the best in another, to be intrigued by them, to be patient with them.
Technology is what we make of it — in the end, I think it is up to us to do the work of connecting with others. It seems key to be aware of ourselves and our desires, as well as how technology affects what we’re able to find and our biases when searching.
P.S. You may also be interested in our Sex, Kink, & Taboo post, which also includes kinky resources and research.