This Is How To Love In The Digital Age

man and woman kissing
freestocks.org / Unsplash

In the age of modern dating, where people seek meaningless hookups and casual dalliances with alarming frequency, choose to live in non-committal gray areas of almost-relationships, and “ghosting” is how we choose to confront a lack of interest, it’s ironic to think that one fundamental truth of being human is this:

Our deepest desire is to connect with other humans. To be intimately seen, quietly known, and wholly accepted.

The startling number of people on dating and friend-making apps—the demand for these platforms growing ever higher—seems to indicate that we are perhaps lonelier than we have ever been, especially given the ease of communication that modern technology has afforded us.

We are all seeking connection, no matter what form we go about it. No matter how in denial we may be about our desire for it. No matter how much we may treat it like a tug-of-war, pulling it close, then pushing it away.

Casual sex, almost-loves, and “situationships” are all a grasp at connection, but fooling ourselves into believing that the apathetic carelessness with which we treat it will keep us from feeling enough to be hurt.

Because the reality is that actual, genuine connection is terrifying. To let someone in so intimately requires a large degree of trust, and trust takes time and effort to build, to earn.

Insecurity is rampant, with constant comparison through social media being the most considerable culprit. We suffer from a deep, intrinsic feeling of unworthiness. The belief that we are not good enough as we are. We believe we don’t deserve something good. So we make brief, short-term connections. We look for a high to make us feel something, no matter how inauthentic it may actually be. We self-sabotage anything that might be genuine, because past experience has made us believe that nothing good lasts. It’s made us jaded.

We allow people in like a revolving door. Stability and permanence can’t exist in this vacuum we create. We feed ourselves the narrative that people won’t stay. And don’t get me wrong—plenty won’t. But there are some who will. And are you going to allow those people to slip by you because you’ve conditioned yourself to believe it isn’t possible? Because you’re afraid?

All we are really doing is cutting off our nose to spite our face.

And when something real is staring right at us, we run like hell.

We run from being known, because the thought of stripping ourselves bare and being rejected—whether now or later—is unbearable. If we never let someone close enough, they’ll never be able to reject us, to leave us, because we pushed them away first. We are the one with the upper hand. With the power.

We are also the ones who will end up alone. Perhaps not physically, but in mind, in heart, in soul.

Because real connection requires obscene amounts of vulnerability. It requires a delicate kind of rawness. It requires being willing to show someone the shadowy, cobwebbed facets of who you are, that you sometimes like to pretend don’t exist. It requires candidness and honesty; loyalty and patience, understanding and tact. It requires that you put aside your pride and have the graciousness to believe that someone else sees your worth, even if you can’t. It requires seeing the worth in someone else, even when they can’t find it in themselves.

More than anything, it requires give and take from two people who can do this together—who can put trust in each other and submit to the bittersweet and frightening reality of knowing and being known. TC mark

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