Has the Digital Age Exacerbated Romantic Insecurities?

Some lovers just rely on their hearts
The core remains of what began with a passionate start
And they may not want it to end
But it will, it’s just a question of when
I’ve lived long enough to have learned
The closer you get to the fire the more you get burned
But that won’t happen to us
‘Cause it’s always been a matter of trust

As you are reading this entry, dear galleons, I can assume you are within a few feet of a computer or cell phone… type… thing with internet access. And I’m willing to bet that, at any given point in the day, you are no more than five feet from some form of communication device.

Social networking. Texting. Calling. Skyping. Emailing. There are a myriad of ways we can get in touch with each other through the use of modern technology, at any hour of the day.

While useful in many situations, constantly being “on the grid” brings a new set of complexities to the already troublesome area of the romantic relationship. Primarily, however, it undermines the foundations of trust that relationships should be based on.

I know that trust isn’t something to be doled out to any handsome bloke who stumbles across your path. But if I were to have any desire to create some kind of real, emotional connection with a guy, I’d have to eventually trust him. He would have to earn that trust, true enough, but I’d have to give it to him at some point if we were ever going to make a real relationship work.

Hur, hur. Give it to him.

Shut it.

Here’s the thing about trust. It does take time to build up to a point where you really trust another person. In the early stages, they have to prove themselves worthy of your trust. But if you want the relationship to work, you do have to give that trust over. And trusting someone means you have to give up some of your relationship insecurities. You have to believe that they will be faithful to you, that they want to be with you, that you have nothing to worry about when they aren’t in your presence.

…For a person who usually prides herself on her ability to describe the world around her, I’m having a ridiculously difficult time describing the concept of trust. Damn abstract concepts, fucking with my shit.

What baffles me about romance in the digital age, however, is the apparent lack of trust inherent in most “relationships.” Couples I know have to be in near constant contact with one another. They text and call and IM every goddamn day. Even if they are only apart for an hour or two, they have to send a text asking what the other person is doing. At all times, both partners just have to be aware of the other’s whereabouts and actions.

Is it just me, or doesn’t this just smack of a lack of trust? Not only that, but it speaks volumes about the insecurities plaguing people in relationships. The ease of contact with another person means nobody has to develop that type of “distance trust.”

Yeah, I’m making up phrases. Surprise, surprise.

It’s easy enough to say you trust your partner when you are around them. At that point, the trust you claim is just a hypothetical. There’s no real need for it, as you can observe everything your lover is up to.

But when you factor in distance of any sort, that’s when trust actually becomes an active force. “Distance trust” is actual trust, not the feigned kind. That’s when you have enough belief in the integrity of your partner to not feel threatened by their contact with other men or women.

When you never have to give your partner that kind of space, though, you never develop any real trust. How could you? Trust in the hypothetical is nothing but a pretty lie you tell yourself to soothe your own insecurities. Real trust can only occur when you actively bludgeon your insecurities into submission, when you develop confidence in yourself and your relationship. None of this can happen, however, if you are never apart from your loved one. Without that distance, without the need for trust to develop into an active, stable force, trust simply cannot happen.

These couples that text each other every five minutes, that have to know exactly what the other one is doing or feeling every minute of every day… these couples cannot possibly be in a relationship built on trust. They are crippled by their own insecurities, which modern technology only helps to enhance.

But it runs deeper than that, this pathological need to know the details of your significant other’s life outside of you. Couples stalk each other online, primarily via social networking sites. They get secondhand confirmation of where their lover was and of who they were with. They can see communication between their partner and a “potential threat” for their womanly/manly affections. Often taken completely out of context, the results of such snooping further fan the fires of fear and insecurity. They spark flames of jealousy and anger.

I can’t offer you proof
But you’re gonna face a moment of truth
It’s hard when you’re always afraid
You just recover when another belief is betrayed

Is there any good that comes of this behavior? If you spend all of your time “checking up” on your partner, it becomes utterly draining. You are emotionally wound up all the fucking time. You worry about every little phrase, every little smiley. Every casual conversation with another woman/man is cause for alarm. And heaven for-fucking-bid they don’t check in with you every hour on the hour. Because who knows what kind of shenanigans they are up to without your ever-vigilant eye hovering over them?

***

You know, I tried to be good about this. I was trying to come at this problem from a mature, objective stance. I wanted to look at the evolution of relationships in juxtaposition with the advances of technology.

But I find I just can’t do it. I want to rant, dammit, so that’s what we’re going to do.

In a specific (but by no means isolated) example, two of my coworkers have been “dating” for about two months. I put dating in quotes because they started out as fuck buddies. I have no idea at what point they actually transitioned into a pseudo-relationship. Even if I give them the full two months, however, it seems extraordinary that they are now engaged. That’s right. Fucking engaged. They barely know each other, have been screwing for a few weeks, and now have decided they want to spend the rest of their lives together (in so far as marriage actually means that these days…)?

That’s not terribly surprising around here, actually, but it never fails to blow my mind. But more on that in a minute (now that I’ve started ranting and rambling, I have a feeling we’re going to go more and more off of my original tech/romance topic).

What really gets me about these two is, like so goddamn many couples I know, their relationship seems to be based on… nothing. On sex, I guess. Really, that’s the only thing substantial about it. Toney first told Sam (as an aside, I really hate working with another Sam… so confusing) he loved her via text message. He couldn’t even say it in person. Which is rather fucked up, albeit completely irrelevant… I just wanted to share that.

These two are constant texters. They text each other at work when they aren’t in the same room together. They text constantly when they aren’t at work. I know, because I’ve seen it (and they tell me about it, like it’s something to be proud of).

What’s really amusing, though, is to see just how insecure they both are. Toney is a huge flirt. I knew him before she started working with us, and he used to try to get into my pants on a nightly basis. After they started doing… whatever it is they were doing, the occasional comment would still slip. He and I had long since established that he had absolutely no chance with me, but the banter was still entertaining.

Sam, however, flipped a nut, even though she knew the flirting was in jest. And Toney’s even worse. He’s forbidden some of the guys at work from speaking to her if he’s not in the room with her. He’s that afraid someone will snatch her away. He also constantly takes her phone and goes through it, seeing who she texted that day. And proceeds to freak out when she texts one of her exes… who lives in Iowa…

I don’t know. I’ve watched their whole “relationship” with equal parts amusement and disdain, but the engagement pretty much tossed the amusement factor out the window. They’re in a relationship for the sake of being in a relationship, and they are getting married because it’s the only way they think they can feel secure in their relationship.

Because, you know, married folks never cheat.

Whenever they talk about their upcoming (and, by upcoming, I mean in fucking March) nuptials, I get irritable and/or bored. Not only do I dislike weddings, but I think this whole thing is a farce and a mockery of what a real relationship should be.

***

Yes, I have a weird code of honor when it comes to relationships. A code built on trust and individuality and people-who-aren’t-fucking-clingy/needy/whiny/think-they-are-a-werewolf.

…I wish I was making that last one up, but I shit you not, the last guy with serious (unrequited) designs on me really did think that. I now have a hard time not laughing at him whenever I see him. Which is pretty much daily.

Good times.

***

I understand insecurity. I think narcissists have the greatest set of insecurities of anyone. Narcissism is a front, a persona we put on to be confident and pulled-together in public. Inside, however, we’re subject to intense self-loathing. Like an emo kid wearing a Halloween mask.

But insecurity is something you can overcome. It takes work. You have to be aware of your problem and actively strive to correct it. It’s hard. It takes months, years until you can squash the worst of your insecurities into the dirt. But it can happen.

I let my own insecurities overwhelm me in the last few years, as a result of many factors. This past year, however, I’ve managed to hammer everything back into place, and I’m more confident in myself, as a person, than I have ever been.

Which is good, because I have a bit of unfinished business in Michiganland that requires me to shed those old insecurities that were holding me back. This trip is my opportunity to make up for all the chances I wasted because I worried I wasn’t good enough.

This time you’ve got nothing to lose
You can take it, you can leave it, whatever you choose
I won’t hold back anything
And I’ll walk away a fool or a king

Fuck the status quo. It’s time to shake things up a little.

***

Speaking of which, I bought my tickets for said trip. I will be in Michigan from March 24-29. I’m practically giddy with excitement.

***

I’m just babbling now.

***

Anyway, in an attempt to get back on track, I just want to say this:

To those folks who spend all their free time worrying about their partner’s whereabouts and actions… where do you find the energy? Man, I’m entirely too lazy for jealousy. If he leaves me, he fucking leaves me. There’s not much I can do about it if I’m being myself and giving my all to the relationship. If he’s not happy and won’t talk about it, we’re not going to work anyway. If he’s out scamming on another chick, our relationship is obviously unstable and should end anyway. I’m not going to waste my time worrying about who he’s talking to. If he wants to talk to his ex, fine. There’s a reason he/she is an ex, after all. I’m not going to bother feeling threatened by the past.

Seriously, I’m a fundamentally lazy person. Jealousy requires tons of energy. So if you people want to fill your life with stress and worry, fucking go for it. I, for one, will never understand you.

I’ll be over here, totally content in myself and enjoying life.

Hope your ulcer treats you well.

***

Wow, this post did not go the way I intended. At all.

Sorry.

To wrap it up, props to Billy Joel for the song lyrics I stole and peppered throughout this disaster of a post:

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