My husband and I will be married sixteen years in a few days. We spent five years dating and that’s because we met in college. So altogether that is twenty-one years of togetherness. When I think back to all of the things we did while broke and in college its no wonder we know each other so well. We took walks, bike rides, went to parties together, did homework together, watched TV, ate tons of pizza and TALKED. We talked and walked, we talked and rode bikes we even talked while eating. Talking and mostly dreaming is what we did.
Unfortunately nobody dates that way any more. I have had quite a few clients in the past three months all dealing with relationship problems. The problem? Technology. It seems people communicate but they never talk. Talking requires facial expressions, hand movements and tone of voice. Talking is as much visual as it is listening. Too many of my clients communicate by Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and text messaging. The problem? No one seems to know how the people they talk to feels. They also don’t know if the person they are talking to is telling the truth.
I try to caution my clients about meeting people on the internet. I have had my fair share of clients leave town only to return because the person they met was not what they portrayed on their internet account. Go figure. So what do I do with clients? I have been teaching them how to date. “Ask her to a movie” I say to clients or “Ask him to take a walk with you.” I have also cautioned clients about dropping everything for someone you have never met and the response I usually get is “I have been talking to him/her on (take your pick) for six months I think we know everything about each other.”
Let me tell you, twenty-one years with my husband and I still don’t know everything about him.
Julie North is an in home family counselor in a rural county in South-Central Michigan. She has a private practice and is currently being trained in TF-CBT and complex trauma therapies.