Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Or so the saying goes. For some, when it comes to love and romance, archaic expressions can only be spread across an aching heart for so long before it crumbles. For others, those same expressions act as mild mood enhancers until they get to see their loved one again. Long distance love used to be commonplace; very rarely did two people live close enough to one another that they could take evening strolls around the pond while their chaperone watched. Not only was it more common, but it became romanticized with the emergence of films based on Jane Austen novels and WWII era films in which women and men poured their hearts onto paper and hoped for the day they’d see their love again.
Now it’s 2012 and my generation relies heavily on the conveniences of technology. Where would I be without my smart phone telling me when the next bus is coming or software like Skype or Google video chat? While I’m a bit old school and still write letters and thank you notes by hand, I am amazed at the clarity one can have when video chatting with someone across the globe.
Technology and romance are two things that historically haven’t been linked together that frequently.
However, how has the evolution of technology affected romance and relationships? Has it enhanced our abilities to remain in long distance relationships more sanely, or has it provided a false illusion of connection that wouldn’t exist in person?
Maintaining a healthy relationship can be time consuming, even when your partner lives in the same city. It takes time, funds, and energy to foster a budding romance or stoke the smoldering embers of a long term one. So if distance is an additional variable to your romantic equation, how does one factor it in?
Recently, I accidently interrupted my friend’s Skype date, on her i-phone. Now, since I’m currently stuck with a shitty Droid that I literally have to charge externally due to damage from frequent drops on the pavement, the whole concept of not having to use a laptop to Skype or ‘face-time,’ as Apple has dubbed it, blows my mind. I waved to him in the background and smiled shyly in my towel since I didn’t expect a French man to be in my friend’s bedroom. Forget having to schedule your Skype date with a factored in time difference, while rushing home from the bar in Spain because you forgot, now you can call from the bar! I’m sure your partner will appreciate your ability to multitask. Eat your heart out, Frank Churchill and Jane Fairfax!
But what’s the downside of instant face-time with your partner in a different time zone? I’ve done a few long distance relationships in my time, and let me tell you, it was no cakewalk. Those who I know in long distance relationships all say the same thing: ‘I always told myself I’d never do long distance…until I met him/her.’ Ah yes, going back to the aforementioned game changer. The person who comes along and makes you break all your rules, including eating fried food, going running, and entering into a long distance love affair.
If you meet this person, prove to them how much you care by riding your motorcycle across the country, blasting Meatloaf all the way there, and arriving in tight pleather pants. It will beat a ‘poke’ on Facebook or a coffee date on Sykpe every time.
While the flowery expressions like ‘love doesn’t know its own depth until the hour of separation,’ that remind me of an extremely low budget outdoor Shakespeare camp I attended in middle school can be comforting, what else is going on? Have you ever entered into a long distance relationship a little too prematurely out of necessity or out of curiosity to see where it went? I’m no statistician, but I wonder what percentage of people in long distance relationships, who ultimately aren’t right for each other, stay together longer thanks to the aid of evolved technology. What happens when your law semester abroad ends and you return to your partner’s 3-D face you can touch, and it doesn’t feel the same? I don’t remember him having mutton chops.
I suppose like any big commitment, a gamble with your heart and time is involved. People get together and stay together happily for years in and out of long distance relationships. Likewise, people change, grow and evolve with the technology they’re using, potentially leading them down a different path, alone. This isn’t Jane Austen’s dating world anymore. While it would nice if every once in awhile someone picked me up on a horse, wrote me a love letter, and sported the latest top-hat in style, the reality is we live in an increasingly digital age and our conventions of love and relationships will evolve accordingly.