Couples navigate intricacies of romance- The New Indian Express

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Express News Service

In the landscape of modern romance, where connections are made with a swipe and emoticons convey a multitude of desires, ‘dexting’ is reshaping the online dating scene. Now couples are navigating the intricacies of romance without ever sharing the physical space. Coined by Amanda Bradford, a US-based dating expert and the creator of the dating app service known as The League, the term refers to the fusion of ‘dating’ and ‘texting’. It describes the practice of individuals engaging in romantic communication solely through text messages, often without ever meeting each other. In online dating, the initial spark between two individuals is often ignited by witty banter and textual chemistry. It, however, seems that some are opting to keep the flame alive exclusively within the confines of their screens.

Relationship expert Monica Sharma from Mumbai says, “The allure of dexting lies in the comfort it offers. People can control the pace of the relationship, carefully crafting responses and curating their online persona. It’s a safer space for those who may feel apprehensive about the uncertainties of face-to-face encounters.” But can a relationship thrive solely through texts, or does the absence of in-person interaction hinder the development of genuine intimacy?

Bengaluru-based psychotherapist and relationship counsellor  Dr Himani Joshi weighs in, “While texting provides a sense of closeness, it lacks the nuances of non-verbal communication. Much of our understanding of others comes from body language, tone of voice and subtle facial expressions—elements absent in a text.” Interestingly, many individuals find themselves unintentionally swept into dexting without realising they have embraced the distinct dating style. For some, it becomes a comfortable routine, and before they know it, weeks or even months have passed with no plans for a face-to-face meeting.

Experts agree that while dexting can be a convenient starting point, it is crucial to transition from pixels 
to presence at some point. Dr Joshi advises, “Ultimately, to build a meaningful connection, it’s essential to bridge the gap between the digital and physical realms.” While momentarily satisfying, the digital form of connection can lead to unhealthy outcomes, primarily because it often involves stringing someone along without clearity about the next step. It creates a scenario where one party may be genuinely interested in transitioning from virtual to real-life interaction, while the other remains content with the text-pal dynamic. Furthermore, the prolonged texting phase may set unrealistic expectations.

Psychologically, dexting can lead to an attachment to the idea of a person rather than their true self. “When we invest significant time getting to know someone through messages, the actual personality of the person may not align with the imagined persona created in our minds. This dissonance can be jarring and impact the initial impression,” says Sharma. Ultimately, texting should complement, not replace, real-life interactions. Overindulging in dexting may also inadvertently close doors to other potential romantic connections, as one may feel emotionally invested in a digital one, which lacks the depth of in-person connection.

How to Kick the Habit

1. Set Limits: Avoid spending excessive time texting. Use it to get a sense of someone’s personality or to vet them, but don’t dedicate hours to the screen before meeting in person.

2. Send Meaningful Texts: Instead of constantly sharing, trivial messages, focus on substantial information. Discuss your goals and opinions to ensure alignment.

3. Facetime or Zoom Calls: If distance or scheduling conflicts prevent an in-person meeting, opt 
for video calls

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