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Technology and Dating: The Broader, Faster, & Better Way to Find your Soulmate

Technology and Dating: The Broader, Faster, & Better Way to Find your Soulmate

Throughout history, every culture has seen changes in their dating (mating) rituals. From matchmaking and arranged marriages to high school dances and drunken nights in Las Vegas, technology has been found to be a catalyst in one way or another to these dating changes.

Advances in communications and transportation mean that people could interact with and travel to visit potential partners outside their neighbourhood, workplace, or circle of friends and family. Industrial advances lead to a shift away from farming to manufacturing and then to services. Mass production of print materials saw an increase in literacy and skills.

    The choices for careers, lifestyles, and residences then increased exponentially for many.[1] Even those who found themselves limited by long-standing cultural traditions could still find ways to leverage technology in their love lives.

    And now, in the 21st century, the era of smart mobile devices and broadband communication – even sometimes in the most remote of regions – technology has taken meeting, getting to know, then dating with the hopes of a long-term relationship simpler and more complex at the same time. This situation may seem like a contradiction, but it can be the beginning of something enduring and beautiful.

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    Expanding choices

    In some cultures, it used to be (and in some cultures, it still is) that marriage had less to do with love than it did with politics and economics. Amongst royalty and the elites, marriages were arranged to jockey for power by creating alliances that one or both families could leverage. For the rest, it was a matter of finding financial stability.[2] As time progressed and technology levelled the playing field, creating a larger middle class with a greater sense of independence, this became less and less relevant.

    No longer held back by political or economic machinations, men and women found themselves looking for more personal connections with potential partners. And with this change in criteria, the idea of true love opened up to so many.

    Men and women began interacting in more and more places. Beyond local neighbourhood and community events, men and women were meeting at university, at work, in different cities. Behind all that, technology was at work, freeing up time, creating more opportunities to meet like-minded people that also sparked attraction, and then hopefully dating and becoming more.[3] Planes, trains, phones, microwaves, computers – these and so much more modern technological advances made it easier to interact with so many more people. The chances for a perfect love connection increased exponentially.

    And then there was online dating. Even before online dating, people were looking for their soulmates in all sorts of places. Classified ads, mail order brides, bars, and dance clubs – they were all platforms for meeting and making dates for ages. But with the introduction of the internet and the creation of sites like Match.com, the channels for people to find compatible mates exploded.

    With a few clicks and some simple descriptions, men and women could explore and discover potential mates near and far. And Match.com was only just the beginning. Technology developed, and other services appeared with more sophisticated algorithms that attempted to make accurate matches for a better chance at successful, lasting romantic relationships.[4]

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    Now, instead of hoping to meet someone in a bar, at the local community barbecue, or through friends and family, there are now computer programmes that would work to find everyone who signed up their perfect partner.

    Then social media happened. Dating apps would put people in instant touch with potential dates, either for a casual meeting or for something more serious. Following interests on Facebook or Twitter would connect people with others that had a common mindset and could be developed into a storybook romance.

    Instant communications

    Telegraphs, faxes, snail mail, and even landline phone calls with no voicemail seem like they were so long ago. Today, messaging, emails, video calls, and social media posts across a myriad of service providers offer so many different channels of nearly instant communications.

    Facebook, Twitter, Skype, WhatsApp, Line, WeChat, Viber are just a few of the apps and services that, with a data plan or a WiFi connection, you can communicate with almost any one across the globe.

    This more efficient communication not only allows people to connect for romance, but it also is one of many productivity tools that are almost instantly available. So, people can also free up time by completing work projects and domestic tasks quickly, leaving more time for romance.

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    There are pitfalls to be avoided, as with any tool, regardless if it is a hammer or a dating app.[5] Just like face-to-face communication, being too aggressive by sending too many messages or sharing too much too soon may scare off potential dates (and even friends). And being uncommunicative or reluctant to share may seem too standoffish and interest may be lost, and then connections may be lost. But as long as both parties don’t overthink or try to play hard to get too much, a romance could flourish.

    Creating strong bonds

    With all these opportunities to seek, find, and share with possible partners, the chance of a deeply meaningful romantic relationship that will last is increased. You could connect with someone online over a love of your pet beagles and then eventually discover a common interest in gardening.

    Then, after communicating virtually for a time, you finally plan to meet in person for things to hopefully move on to the step.[6] If you live in driving distance, this meeting could be easy, but with this expanded selection, the chances your true love (or long-term relationship) lives in a distant city, or even country, is not beyond belief.

    Here technology comes to the rescue again. Flights are easy to search for and book, often at an incredible discount. And the choices for accommodations run the range to fit any budget. Review sites will help you find the perfect meeting spot. Map apps will make sure you get there on time. Then it is all up to you.

    Think positively

    In the end, dating and romance is all about people. Yes, there are some people out there that are using this incredible technology to deceive and cheat others for their own benefit, but that could happen in a bar or at a party.[7] Besides, there are steps you can take to make sure that the person you are sharing intimate details with is who they say they are.

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    And the stigma that some people feel about online dating has been dissipating, and it has become more socially acceptable. Many people will know at least one friend who will readily admit that they met their partner online.

    Technology has helped men and women look beyond their neighbourhoods or family and friends for introductions to romance. Accepting and understanding what lies ahead may help make perfect matches that otherwise may have been impossible. Technology can help lead you to your happily ever after.

    Featured photo credit: Getty Images via cdn.skim.gs

    Reference

    More by this author

    Kyra Taylor

    Writer and Lawyer

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    Last Updated on October 22, 2020

    8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

    8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

    How would you feel if you were sharing a personal story and noticed that the person to whom you were speaking wasn’t really listening? You probably wouldn’t be too thrilled.

    Unfortunately, that is the case for many people. Most individuals are not good listeners. They are good pretenders. The thing is, true listening requires work—more work than people are willing to invest. Quality conversation is about “give and take.” Most people, however, want to just give—their words, that is. Being on the receiving end as the listener may seem boring, but it’s essential.

    When you are attending to someone and paying attention to what they’re saying, it’s a sign of caring and respect. The hitch is that attending requires an act of will, which sometimes goes against what our minds naturally do—roaming around aimlessly and thinking about whatnot, instead of listening—the greatest act of thoughtfulness.

    Without active listening, people often feel unheard and unacknowledged. That’s why it’s important for everyone to learn how to be a better listener.

    What Makes People Poor Listeners?

    Good listening skills can be learned, but first, let’s take a look at some of the things that you might be doing that makes you a poor listener.

    1. You Want to Talk to Yourself

    Well, who doesn’t? We all have something to say, right? But when you are looking at someone pretending to be listening while, all along, they’re mentally planning all the amazing things they’re going to say, it is a disservice to the speaker.

    Yes, maybe what the other person is saying is not the most exciting thing in the world. Still, they deserve to be heard. You always have the ability to steer the conversation in another direction by asking questions.

    It’s okay to want to talk. It’s normal, even. Keep in mind, however, that when your turn does come around, you’ll want someone to listen to you.

    2. You Disagree With What Is Being Said

    This is another thing that makes you an inadequate listener—hearing something with which you disagree with and immediately tuning out. Then, you lie in wait so you can tell the speaker how wrong they are. You’re eager to make your point and prove the speaker wrong. You think that once you speak your “truth,” others will know how mistaken the speaker is, thank you for setting them straight, and encourage you to elaborate on what you have to say. Dream on.

    Disagreeing with your speaker, however frustrating that might be, is no reason to tune them out and ready yourself to spew your staggering rebuttal. By listening, you might actually glean an interesting nugget of information that you were previously unaware of.

    3. You Are Doing Five Other Things While You’re “Listening”

    It is impossible to listen to someone while you’re texting, reading, playing Sudoku, etc. But people do it all the time—I know I have.

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    I’ve actually tried to balance my checkbook while pretending to listen to the person on the other line. It didn’t work. I had to keep asking, “what did you say?” I can only admit this now because I rarely do it anymore. With work, I’ve succeeded in becoming a better listener. It takes a great deal of concentration, but it’s certainly worth it.

    If you’re truly going to listen, then you must: listen! M. Scott Peck, M.D., in his book The Road Less Travel, says, “you cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time.” If you are too busy to actually listen, let the speaker know, and arrange for another time to talk. It’s simple as that!

    4. You Appoint Yourself as Judge

    While you’re “listening,” you decide that the speaker doesn’t know what they’re talking about. As the “expert,” you know more. So, what’s the point of even listening?

    To you, the only sound you hear once you decide they’re wrong is, “Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah!” But before you bang that gavel, just know you may not have all the necessary information. To do that, you’d have to really listen, wouldn’t you? Also, make sure you don’t judge someone by their accent, the way they sound, or the structure of their sentences.

    My dad is nearly 91. His English is sometimes a little broken and hard to understand. People wrongly assume that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about—they’re quite mistaken. My dad is a highly intelligent man who has English as his second language. He knows what he’s saying and understands the language perfectly.

    Keep that in mind when listening to a foreigner, or someone who perhaps has a difficult time putting their thoughts into words.

    Now, you know some of the things that make for an inferior listener. If none of the items above resonate with you, great! You’re a better listener than most.

    How To Be a Better Listener

    For conversation’s sake, though, let’s just say that maybe you need some work in the listening department, and after reading this article, you make the decision to improve. What, then, are some of the things you need to do to make that happen? How can you be a better listener?

    1. Pay Attention

    A good listener is attentive. They’re not looking at their watch, phone, or thinking about their dinner plans. They’re focused and paying attention to what the other person is saying. This is called active listening.

    According to Skills You Need, “active listening involves listening with all senses. As well as giving full attention to the speaker, it is important that the ‘active listener’ is also ‘seen’ to be listening—otherwise, the speaker may conclude that what they are talking about is uninteresting to the listener.”[1]

    As I mentioned, it’s normal for the mind to wander. We’re human, after all. But a good listener will rein those thoughts back in as soon as they notice their attention waning.

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    I want to note here that you can also “listen” to bodily cues. You can assume that if someone keeps looking at their watch or over their shoulder, their focus isn’t on the conversation. The key is to just pay attention.

    2. Use Positive Body Language

    You can infer a lot from a person’s body language. Are they interested, bored, or anxious?

    A good listener’s body language is open. They lean forward and express curiosity in what is being said. Their facial expression is either smiling, showing concern, conveying empathy, etc. They’re letting the speaker know that they’re being heard.

    People say things for a reason—they want some type of feedback. For example, you tell your spouse, “I had a really rough day!” and your husband continues to check his newsfeed while nodding his head. Not a good response.

    But what if your husband were to look up with questioning eyes, put his phone down, and say, “Oh, no. What happened?” How would feel, then? The answer is obvious.

    According to Alan Gurney,[2]

    “An active listener pays full attention to the speaker and ensures they understand the information being delivered. You can’t be distracted by an incoming call or a Facebook status update. You have to be present and in the moment.

    Body language is an important tool to ensure you do this. The correct body language makes you a better active listener and therefore more ‘open’ and receptive to what the speaker is saying. At the same time, it indicates that you are listening to them.”

    3. Avoid Interrupting the Speaker

    I am certain you wouldn’t want to be in the middle of a sentence only to see the other person holding up a finger or their mouth open, ready to step into your unfinished verbiage. It’s rude and causes anxiety. You would, more than likely, feel a need to rush what you’re saying just to finish your sentence.

    Interrupting is a sign of disrespect. It is essentially saying, “what I have to say is much more important than what you’re saying.” When you interrupt the speaker, they feel frustrated, hurried, and unimportant.

    Interrupting a speaker to agree, disagree, argue, etc., causes the speaker to lose track of what they are saying. It’s extremely frustrating. Whatever you have to say can wait until the other person is done.

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    Be polite and wait your turn!

    4. Ask Questions

    Asking questions is one of the best ways to show you’re interested. If someone is telling you about their ski trip to Mammoth, don’t respond with, “that’s nice.” That would show a lack of interest and disrespect. Instead, you can ask, “how long have you been skiing?” “Did you find it difficult to learn?” “What was your favorite part of the trip?” etc. The person will think highly of you and consider you a great conversationalist just by you asking a few questions.

    5. Just Listen

    This may seem counterintuitive. When you’re conversing with someone, it’s usually back and forth. On occasion, all that is required of you is to listen, smile, or nod your head, and your speaker will feel like they’re really being heard and understood.

    I once sat with a client for 45 minutes without saying a word. She came into my office in distress. I had her sit down, and then she started crying softly. I sat with her—that’s all I did. At the end of the session, she stood, told me she felt much better, and then left.

    I have to admit that 45 minutes without saying a word was tough. But she didn’t need me to say anything. She needed a safe space in which she could emote without interruption, judgment, or me trying to “fix” something.

    6. Remember and Follow Up

    Part of being a great listener is remembering what the speaker has said to you, then following up with them.

    For example, in a recent conversation you had with your co-worker Jacob, he told you that his wife had gotten a promotion and that they were contemplating moving to New York. The next time you run into Jacob, you may want to say, “Hey, Jacob! Whatever happened with your wife’s promotion?” At this point, Jacob will know you really heard what he said and that you’re interested to see how things turned out. What a gift!

    According to new research, “people who ask questions, particularly follow-up questions, may become better managers, land better jobs, and even win second dates.”[3]

    It’s so simple to show you care. Just remember a few facts and follow up on them. If you do this regularly, you will make more friends.

    7. Keep Confidential Information Confidential

    If you really want to be a better listener, listen with care. If what you’re hearing is confidential, keep it that way, no matter how tempting it might be to tell someone else, especially if you have friends in common. Being a good listener means being trustworthy and sensitive with shared information.

    Whatever is told to you in confidence is not to be revealed. Assure your speaker that their information is safe with you. They will feel relieved that they have someone with whom they can share their burden without fear of it getting out.

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    Keeping someone’s confidence helps to deepen your relationship. Also, “one of the most important elements of confidentiality is that it helps to build and develop trust. It potentially allows for the free flow of information between the client and worker and acknowledges that a client’s personal life and all the issues and problems that they have belong to them.”[4]

    Be like a therapist: listen and withhold judgment.

    NOTE: I must add here that while therapists keep everything in a session confidential, there are exceptions:

    1. If the client may be an immediate danger to himself or others.
    2. If the client is endangering a population that cannot protect itself, such as in the case of a child or elder abuse.

    8. Maintain Eye Contact

    When someone is talking, they are usually saying something they consider meaningful. They don’t want their listener reading a text, looking at their fingernails, or bending down to pet a pooch on the street. A speaker wants all eyes on them. It lets them know that what they’re saying has value.

    Eye contact is very powerful. It can relay many things without anything being said. Currently, it’s more important than ever with the Covid-19 Pandemic. People can’t see your whole face, but they can definitely read your eyes.

    By eye contact, I don’t mean a hard, creepy stare—just a gaze in the speaker’s direction will do. Make it a point the next time you’re in a conversation to maintain eye contact with your speaker. Avoid the temptation to look anywhere but at their face. I know it’s not easy, especially if you’re not interested in what they’re talking about. But as I said, you can redirect the conversation in a different direction or just let the person know you’ve got to get going.

    Final Thoughts

    Listening attentively will add to your connection with anyone in your life. Now, more than ever, when people are so disconnected due to smartphones and social media, listening skills are critical.

    You can build better, more honest, and deeper relationships by simply being there, paying attention, and asking questions that make the speaker feel like what they have to say matters.

    And isn’t that a great goal? To make people feel as if they matter? So, go out and start honing those listening skills. You’ve got two great ears. Now use them!

    More Tips on How to Be a Better Listener

    Featured photo credit: Joshua Rodriguez via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Skills You Need: Active Listening
    [2] Filtered: Body language for active listening
    [3] Forbes: People Will Like You More If You Start Asking Follow-up Questions
    [4] TAFE NSW Sydney eLearning Moodle: Confidentiality

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