How to develop a strong connection offline
Today, having a deep, meaningful and strong connection with someone is a rare thing. We have so many distractions around us – social media, work, various screens and a never ending ‘to do list’. Our strongest connection can sometimes be with our smartphone rather than with God or with actual people. This doesn’t have to be the case. An early connection after meeting online can be nurtured and cultivated into something precious right from when you first start dating and as your relationship develops.
A deep, strong connection is worth fighting for, but there could be some hard work and compromise along the way for both parties. Our lives are often scarily exhibited for the world to see on social media – and we can manipulate this to make it look how we want. But instead of meeting a fake profile in any part of life, we all want to date a real person and get to know them fully. We want to be transparent in a relationship rather than portraying someone we’d like to be – and we’d like the same from the person we’re dating!
From the moment you start dating someone there is a responsibility to intentionally work on the relationship and not be led by social media or by other people’s opinions and expectations, but instead to work on deepening the connection in your own time. Here are a few practical things to consider.
If you’re tempted to narrate your whole relationship on social media, ask yourself why!
You may want to shout it from the rooftops that you’re seeing someone, and that’s great – but could you instead spend the time actually getting to know them? Your priority should be learning more about your date and focusing on the time spent with them rather than telling your followers about someone that you only know in part.
Spend quality time with them – put the phones away, don’t let social media dictate the sort of photo you need to get with them, or dictate how you are portrayed. The way to be raw and authentic with each other is not even to be tempted to look at your phone every time a notification comes up when you’re together. Focus instead on truly listening to your date – they deserve your full attention, just as you deserve theirs.
Don’t see your dating relationship through how it could be curated
You may have an idea of how your new relationship should go, what it should look like and where you see the future. You may want to copy influencers – whether Christian or not – and how their relationships look or copy their date ideas. You might have it mapped out and get disappointed when it doesn’t go that way. Give yourself a break!
Humans are not robots, we each have a mind of our own and part of nurturing a connection with someone is to learn how they tick. Rather than tell them how to live and then be disappointed when they don’t meet unrealistic expectations, be open to learning who they actually are. Seek to learn about the inward qualities of your new partner and not just the outward and how they look on your grid or stories or how your friends expect them to be. They’re what God sees.
Humans look at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart. You don’t want to be superficial, or just have a surface level connection. To have a lasting relationship, you need to delve deeper, to connect on many levels, spiritually, emotionally and mentally. Don’t try and curate your narrative, but instead let God write your love story. His way will be better than any influencer’s account.
Pause if you’re pressuring yourself to present your life as something for others to consume
Your dating relationship should just be about you, your new partner and God, and not the whole world. The early stages of a relationship are precious and intimate, and exceptionally vulnerable. You’re figuring things out, you don’t need the voices of many others (especially if you don’t know actually know each other in person!) dictating how your relationship should go.
Instead, carve out quality time with your date. Communication is key and this does not mean just text communication – face to face eye contact is vital. Spend time together with God in prayer and reading the Bible together. Your focus will shift upwards rather than towards your phone.
Don’t try to make your date into something they’re not
Social media is a place where comparison is rife. Comparison can kill your own journey to finding love. Your expectations may not be met because they’re too removed from what’s realistic from mapping out what exactly you want your relationship to look like. It’s good to have standards and morals but sometimes the partner that God gives is what you need and not necessarily what you want.
You may keenly follow everything posted by your favourite celebrity or Christian influencer and want to emulate their lives. Or notice that your date doesn’t quite look like your celebrity crush, and you want them to change to fit the box that you have created. But being in a relationship is not about fitting in a box and changing your partner to be what you want, it’s about growing together, learning together, chiselling each other to be the best versions of each other.
Step away from pressure to have fancy dates just so there’s more to post about!
Commitment and connection are better than content. Being present and focused is better than stories. Simplicity is better than filtered selfies. While it’s nice to have photos for your own memories, if you want fancy dates just so that you can look good online, have photo opportunities to show off to everyone and create content, then you have your priorities are leading away from authenticity and it will be much harder to develop a deep connection between you and your partner.
Instead, keep things about the two of you, when it’s a date just meant for two! You don’t have to go to the latest restaurant, the most lavish getaway, the luxury spa, or the most on-trend bar. You can connect through dates without pressure – picnics, walks, board game evenings, time with friends to expand your conversations – activities that are all simple ways of focusing on your date and those close to you, rather than on yourself and your appearance on the socials.
It’s important to drown out the ‘noise’ of opinions, comparison and pressure and instead listen to godly wisdom, seek God and enjoy the times you have getting to know each other. The moment you pick up your phone, the focus and attention has shifted elsewhere and you are no longer listening in the way you should be. Try instead to be intentional to listen, learn and love and grow in connection as you do.