Online dating sites offer the opportunity to connect with another person, or several people, virtually. Members can send messages, check out other members’ photos, and determine if they feel connected to someone based on profiles, all without uttering a word or making eye contact. Many people who are uncomfortable or anxious in social settings prefer this dating method. But according to Dr. Craig Malkin, an author and clinical psychologist, this type of cyber distance could be contributing to anxiety and making people more fearful of in-person intimacy.
In a recent article, Malkin explains that avoiding anxious situations, like meeting people, can exacerbate anxiety. When someone who is fearful never confronts the object of the fear, it looms larger in the person’s mind. By avoiding face time—person to person—with friends, coworkers, neighbors, and potential partners, we never give ourselves the opportunity to diffuse our fears. If we turn to the virtual world of video games, pornography, or online dating, we get excitement, gratification, and no risk. This payoff eventually becomes addictive and makes it more difficult to engage in real-life interactions, Malkin said. In real life, of course, relationships have risks.
Just as some individuals use alcohol to tame their insecurities and pain, others use the Internet. In fact, some research has suggested that the rising use of technology is partly responsible for declining marriage rates. Malkin realizes that everyone is somewhat anxious about sharing their hearts with another person. But turning to technology could be fueling their fear. Malkin believes that connecting with others is a choice. “In the end, that’s the only way any of us can nurture healthy relationships and intimacy—by being mindful of our choices to turn toward or away from the people we love,” he said.
Malkin, Craig. How technology makes us afraid of intimacy. (n.d.): n. pag. The Huffington Post. 24 Sept. 2012. Web. 27 Sept. 2012. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-craig-malkin/technology-addiction_b_1901344.html
© Copyright 2012 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved.
The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.