Listen, I am not trying to get everyone mad at me right now, but I remember when texting first came out. I thought to myself “This is so dumb. I can just call you and scrolling through every letter takes forever.” Seriously, it did. Or I could page someone. I am totally laughing at that because we used to think only doctors or drug dealers ran out of the room after getting a page.
If I have already lost you, perhaps you are a wee bit younger than I am. For those willing to listen to my advice, I want to describe a whole new world.
In college, we met our friends at a lunch area that had an open table area. We would sit on tables, chairs, the wall whatever to get closer to people and chat. We would laugh so loud and so long about inside jokes that we dreaded getting up from the tables and drifting off to class. We would meet later, the brothers, and the sisters, at one of the grills on the campus and cook up some food. I can see, hear and smell it right now. It was called engagement with your fellow people and it was life.
Whether one fraternity was putting on a show on the great lawn for the girls or whether the soccer dudes were out there, it didn’t matter. We walked around with our heads held high…making eye contact. Laughing with the friend next to us. I don’t think we knew how good we had it.
When I met my husband, he was not in a fraternity. He had been staring at me when I went to the computer center. That’s right, we had a place to use computers since we didn’t really have laptops back then. Anyway, I went to print out my paper for English, one of a bazillion on Tolkien, Grendel, Vonnegut, Shakespeare or possibly Don Quixote, who knows, and the printer didn’t work. He yelled over his shoulder it wouldn’t work and kept walking. The rudeness. Little did I know that we would start dating.
When we ended up across from each other in class that fall, I almost went through the floor. It was that dude who I thought liked me, yet didn’t really know how to speak to me. Luckily, his wing-man did. He helped him chat with me as he ran cable in the English tutoring center I worked in. We met face to face and chatted for hours after the initial shy period was over. Then we would chat on the phone for hours. Then we would go out and chat. But the entire time, if I hadn’t been able to read his eyes or if he had been looking down or away from me during this time, I would have thought he didn’t like me, and that would have been wrong.
The culture has changed so much now that I feel like people need to remember what it used to be like just 20 years ago…which really wasn’t that long in the past.
Put down your phone so you can…
- Make eye contact.
- Read the person’s body language.
- Be fully present with the experience.
- Know that they are interested by HOW they are being.
- Not texting other people to already meet up while you are on a date.
- Not using the phone as an escape.
- Ask each other important questions.
- Pay attention to little cues on how they treat others…like the waiter or waitress.
- Allowing things to just be. Can you be okay in stillness?
- Be genuine with each other and not have a mask in place.
- Ask about their day…and listen.
- Go on a walk…and put phones in glove box.
- Plan small outings to learn more about the other person. The real person.
- The highlights are on the phone…but what happens during bad times? Are they there for you?
- Can you cook together?
- Think about the pet peeves together and plan ways to overcome the conflicts.
- Don’t forget to say out loud, I like you. Just liking the photos isn’t enough or proclaiming your undying love on the social feeds.
- Meet the family…and really pay attention to what the dynamic is like.
- Do you eat at the table or in front of the T.V.? Where are the phones?
- Laugh with each other. Long and loud and free.
- Be silly. It’s okay.
- Date like you just met…even if it’s been 20 years.
- Let anything go from the past, and start today, to live in the present.
The truth is, these tips can be for friends, partners, or spouses, it doesn’t matter. I love that my husband’s friend jokingly named everything “horrible” about our relationship the other night. It was that we aren’t like other married people, and that we are both secure in our relationship of almost 21 years…enough so that when my brothers call me, and they still do, I can go out and hang with them and chat about the old times.
I enjoy the face-to-face time and the just being. The bonds of friendship can be a beautiful thing when they are built on trust and love, just like the beginning of a relationship. But one thing is for sure, you have to cultivate it, care for it, and nurture it too. You also have to admit when you are just going through the motions. So, I hope this inspired you to have a tech free date night…or a tech free family night. Live like it’s the 90’s…or earlier.