No tech gadget or TV show will ever replace this … so stop neglecting it!
by Nancy Hyatt
I see many couples in my practice more attached to their cell phones than they are to each other. If it were between losing their cell phone at a mall or their partner, they’d panic more over the former.
Siri is our source of comfort, easily accessed from our pocketbooks or back pockets. We can go anywhere in the world, and if we’re hungry we can simply ask: “Siri, find me the closest deli” and “she” finds us the most direct route to the juiciest corned beef sandwich in the area.
She responds to some of our most basic human questions: Are you always there for me? Is taking care of me your top priority?
However, as illuminated in the movie Her, there is one basic human need in this modern age of instant gratification that we can’t receive from electronic devices—physical, human connection.
Even the most sophisticated operating system, designed with the sexy and soothing voice of Scarlett Johansson, can’t touch the deep need for direct, affectionate physical human contact.
Touch Me Baby
Much research over the past 80 years, validates touch as an essential need for our development and well-being. In the 1930’s, Psychologist Harry Harlow proved the true centrality of touch to normal primate development. He proved that simple room and board is not enough. We need physical comforting and affection.
Researchers have also discovered the devastating consequences of touch deprivation in human development, when thousands of Romanian orphans experienced the failure to thrive (inability to gain weight, stunted growth, and failure to reach typical mental and emotional milestones) as a result not being held. Newer research conducted by James Coan, PhD found that the simple act of women holding the hand of their husbands, while receiving a shock to their ankle decreased their level of anxiety and pain.
The Look of Love is in Your Eyes
Much research has also proven how important it is to, simply, gaze at one another. Michael Orlans, an attachment researcher states, “The gaze between baby and caregiver is a primary form of communication for attachment. The infant gazes into [their] mother’s eyes and receives powerful messages about her emotions and involvement, which influences the baby’s feelings of safety and security.”
This primary source of information is often neglected in our new-age relationships given that much of modern communication is, now, made without eye-to-eye contact. Sitting on the sofa gazing at Games of Thrones on your giant TV screen, with your sweetie isn’t a great example of nourishing your relationship quality (despite what we may believe)—though it is the most common way many couples describe how they “connect.”
The Sound of Silence
Dr. Albert Mehrabian, author of Silent Messages, discovered that 93 percent of the way humans communicate is through non-verbal elements such as facial gestures, posture, and tone of voice. Where does that leave Siri in our lives? If she’s front and center, then you’re only getting 7 percent of your prescribed human diet of connection.
My work with couples serves to return us to our most basic form of connection, rooted in gaze and touch. Before we get into the verbal exchange of information, couples sit in chairs, facing each other, holding hands and gazing.
The momentary discomfort that comes with being out of practice melts into a state of limbic resonance, one that’s millions of years in the making.
Couples who haven’t touched each other in months, often begin crying at the extreme intensity of emotion that comes with a sense of “coming home” to their most basic need for connection.
In the truest sense of the expression, couples sync up with each other, as their two operating systems exchange information, in the way humans were initially designed to communicate.
My advice to committed couples in this day of the modern marriage is to sync up with the gaze and touch of one another, with the same urgency they check their emails, voicemails and tweets with.
This article originally appeared on Your Tango. For more like this from Your Tango, try:
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