Love it or hate, we are enveloped in a world of technology. It’s made many of our jobs easier, but it can also be a huge distraction at the dinner table.

The debate about the benefits of online dating apps is endless, but what is often overlooked is  how technology has influenced courtship even beyond that first hello.

Think about it: courtship used to be a slow process, usually involving face to face conversations. Even long distance relationships involved slower delivery mail, and letters might be pages long. 

Yet these days, it’s all about quick delivery and fewer words. 

New relationships might stem from a pre-packaged, highly edited, brief “bio” on a dating app, as if the depths of our decades of experience could ever be summarized in a few sentences. Thus the mental frenzy ensues…How much do we write? How much do we omit? Boundaries and issues of self-disclosure abound, especially when it comes to our sexual preferences. These can all be difficult to navigate in the digital space, where our eyes provide the only sensory input, yet they can be easily fooled by outdated photos, posed pics and even photoshop. 

Communications in ongoing relationships are also whittled down to sound bites and selfies; nuance, humor, sincerity and warmth are hard to discern. Without contrary evidence, each of us interprets messages in a way that makes sense to our own brain (even when what makes sense is mean, thoughtless or unpleasant), rather than recognizing the intention of the other.  

The reality is that in the physical presence of someone, we each rely on all of our five senses to assess and understand the situation which provide context for any words exchanged.  A smile or laugh changes an insult to a tease; a friendly touch turns a criticism into a suggestion; a kiss transforms a quick apology into a truth. 

When we don’t have the sound of our date’s voice, the smell of their cologne, the sight of their eyes meeting ours, the warm touch of their hand in ours, and – if we’re lucky! – the taste of their lips, and we’re left looking only at pixels on a screen. Then it is left to our imagination, confidence or lack of, expectations, history and defensiveness to interpret what was actually meant.  And for some of us, we are much more gifted at creating negative stories than joyful ones; for others, the words may be understood but the emotions may be lost en route. After all, it’s hard enough to spark someone’s imagination, it’s really hard to do so in the direction that we want to take them!

That’s where emojis come in. Emojis can soften words which can aid in communicating your tone and your intentions. They can inject your messages with with flavor, humor, and flirtiness that might otherwise be lacking. Their colorful designs are literally eye candy. 

There’s also an implied level of familiarity, affection, and intimacy established the moment you send an emoji to someone. (For example, you might not use emojis in your correspondence with your employer!)

In fact, studies have shown that the more often you use emojis in your correspondence with someone, the more likely you are to maintain a relationship with that partner. (Of course, this doesn’t mean spamming 30 eggplants in a row!) Some participants even reported that they felt it was easier for them to express their feelings with emojis instead of words.

Aside from video chatting, emojis are the closest things we have to convey body language and tone in this ever-changing digital realm. They can help us avoid misunderstandings over text, and instead build affinity. An entire dialect of double entendres has emerged, thanks to people reappropriating emoji symbols like the eggplant, peach, tengu, and unicorn to mean different, flirty things. 😉

All in all, emojis can convey important information to current and potential partners and are associated with a more successful intimate connection. Why not take advantage of such an easy form of connection?  

Regardless of our age, happy relationships are instrumental to our overall sense of well being.  So remember, Emojis aren’t just for kids! They’re for everyone who wants to have a little bit of fun and take every chance they can to make sure that others understand what we mean, not just see the words we type.   

I can see the next Barbara Walters special now… “So, George Clooney… if you were an emoji, which would you be?” 😁😄

So go forth and EMOJI freely! And when you use the wrong one, or get one you don’t understand- don’t feel bad. I think that happens to me daily! 😬

As they say these days, an emoji’s worth a thousand words! 

xoxo,
Beth💜