Have you ever wondered how a text stands up to a phone call? Or a phone call to an in-person meeting? What about emails? How have all of these modern developments affected our human relationships?
There is new research coming out now that these forms of electronic communication are NOT equivalent to the old-fashioned face-to-face talking/interacting. Which makes sense when you consider that the human brain would have a lot of trouble evolving at a pace to keep up with the latest iPhone app or emoticon. Our brains were wired for in-person interactions in which we can use data from the visual stream, and vocal tone, volume and pitch. We intuitively know what a frown means even when no words accompany it, and we also know that even if said with a smile certain words uttered in a snarly tone mean a fight is brewing. These kinds of nuances cannot be parsed out by the human brain when the message is communicated via text or email and may only be partially correctly decoded in a phone-call or audio message. Furthermore not only is it likely that the message can be mis-interpreted but our poor brains also can't derive the type of support that they need from these relationship proxies.
In one study done with girls who were put into a stressful situation it was shown that being able to either talk to a comforting person (their moms) over the phone or meeting up with this person after the stressor reduced physical signs of stress (levels of cortisol) compared to texting, which did nothing for stress. Additionally being able to talk on the phone or in person with the support-person caused a release of oxytocin, a hormone that helps us bond and mitigates the effects of stress. Again this effect was not seen with texting.
In another study done on adults over 50 researchers found that the probability of having depression increased as the frequency of in-person contact with other people decreased. Meaning that the less real-live contact that these people had with other humans increased the likelihood that they would suffer depression. Humans need other humans and we need to be with each other in ways that are not purely viritual.
So keep those you love close-- close enough to see, touch and hear without the interloping of wires and circuitry. And reach out to them frequently for contact and connection. Save the less personal forms of communication for business and less significant relationships if you want to be happy and healthy. At least until Mother Nature comes out with thehumanbrain2.0. But I'm not holding my breath.
Yours in health,
One of the most common reasons couples come to me is affairs. They may be purely emotional, purely physical, or some of each. They could be a brief interlude or a decades-long relationship. One partner may have strayed or both. And despite what I think most people's intuition is, in my experience if the couple is willing to work on it almost all of these couples have stayed together. While the devastation of this kind of betrayal is certainly enormous it is capable of being healed. And not only that but it can also lead to a kind of exploration of the basic tenants of the relationship that allow for tremendous growth and change. Most of my affair couples tell me that after doing the hard work of healing that their current relationship is actually much better than it was for years preceding the affair.
If you have read my blog before you know that I practice PACT -- the Psychobiological Approach to Couples Therapy. This approach was developed by Stan Tatkin, PsyD and incorporates brain science and attachment theory into couples work. I find it to be a brilliant, dynamic and exciting type of work that produces faster and deeper results than most couples therapies available.
In regards to the specific problem of affairs, Dr. Tatkin did an interview with Dr. Diane Poole Heller in which they discussed how affairs in our adult relationships are often related to problems with our attachment to our caregivers as children. The interview is presented in two parts:
If you are wanting to heal from an affair or learn more about couples dynamics in general I highly recommend watching these interview segments. More information can also be found in Dr. Tatkin's audio program Your Brain On Love", which is available on iTunes, Amazon or at www.soundstrue.com
Krista Jordan, Ph.D., ABPP
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