Magazine article Success

Strong Ties: Focus on Growing Intimacy Irl, Not Online

Magazine article Success

Strong Ties: Focus on Growing Intimacy Irl, Not Online

Article excerpt

All day long, my wife and I exchange the sweetest text messages filled with emojis: hearts, the kissy face and the sweet new inclusive family one with two moms and two boys (we have twin sons). Sometimes we even go public with our moony proclamations on social media. We are so in love. Sigh.

And then we come home from work and see each other In Real Life (IRL). The romantic glow of our love lasts about 30 minutes before it fades. We argue. We fight. Over big stuffand ridiculous stuff. We don't feel seen, heard or understood. We feel taken for granted. But mostly, we are dumbstruck and crushed that we could go from such a place of sweetness and light to one so dark.

We fall--and keep falling--for the trap that plagues almost every modern relationship and relationship-seeker: the false intimacy of online connection.

A quick primer on intimacy: It's what happens when people share their true selves--strengths, faults, fears and hopes--with one another and then continue to choose each other (as romantic partners or friends). When two people feel comfortable enough to be vulnerable with each other, trust is created--and no relationship will last long without trust. But being vulnerable is tough for everyone, and it can be terrifyingly so for some of us, depending on our childhood bonds with family, past hurts and our self-esteem.

That difficulty is why online connection is so seductive. You can select and curate what you share and then rake in affirmation (likes, retweets, whatever) with little risk. Those brief, in-the-moment online intimacies ("We both like Stranger Things!") can help create community and are akin to the "weak-tie" relationships the laugh you share with your barista in the morning--that contribute to happiness.

But "strong-tie" relationships count for more when it comes to happiness and life satisfaction. …

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