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Sing No More Digital Drama

Hip Hop Queen Mary J. Blige sang about No More Drama in 2001. Who knew that would include digital drama nowadays. Cell phones, Facebook, Twitter, and personal blogs are now causing digital drama in relationships. As if there wasn’t enough drama already, such as going to sleep without talking to each other (for days in some instances) or constantly having insignificant petty arguments.

The internet and digital devices have made it easier for us to communicate, connect and collect information in ways we never could have imagined. But they’ve also changed how we interact with one another through social media—in some ways better, in other ways worst.

If you or your significant other are connected to a lot of devices, and either one of you has a problem unplugging from time to time, then you have a legitimate cause for concern. No one wants to be in a relationship where you’re trying to spend some quality time and your partner is constantly texting or talking on a cell phone.

But there is a greater danger at hand. What if your partner texts or instant messages you all day, wanting to know where you are and what you are doing? You may think it’s kind of annoying, but not worth arguing about. Or maybe you think it’s normal, because he or she loves you and is just checking in. Well that’s actually digital stalking and it’s a form of abuse.

Many people passively read others’ status updates of FB~a digital form of people watching. Most of us are guilty of it. Using FB or social networks sites to keep in touch is fine.  But using them to get the lowdown on an ex or significant other also falls into the realm of digital stalking. It’s a pattern of unhealthy behavior in a relationship even if you may not see it as abusive.

Or what if you are bombarding your partner with questions or accusations about who he or she is texting or the people posting on his or her FB wall? Maybe you have asked your loved one to keep his or her cell phone unlocked so you can do “spot checks.” Or you demand passwords or access codes in order to read his or her emails. You may even sneak peaks at text messages or emails when your partner is not in the room. Obsessive spying is beyond natural jealousy it is abusive behavior.

Do we need to give up privacy to be in a relationship? If so, exactly how much. If you have to invade your partner’s privacy to feel secure, you’ve got trust issues. In a healthy relationship, partners trust one another. They allow each other room to breathe and enjoy time with friends and family. In an emotionally abusive relationship, one partner tries to control the other. Spying, constant text messaging and demands on your whereabouts is a big red flag that signals “I’m trying to control you!” Not “ I love you!”

Digital drama can easily escalate into emotional or even physical abuse, if screaming and shoving are already used to resolve conflicts in the relationship. Remember Chris Brown’s assault on Rihanna that brought domestic violence to the forefront in 2009. The fight that broke out in the car allegedly started over text messages he received from another woman. Some people, both men and women, are still dismissive of his behavior because she pushed his so-called buttons—like she allegedly snatched the cell phone out of his hand.

All relationships have some conflict time to time. That’s not the issue. It’s about how we resolve those conflicts. Do you fight fair or do you try to hurt your partner emotionally, psychologically and/or physically. It’s about whether you can let go of anger or hang on to it by punishing your partner because he or she upset you.

Fifteen or Fifty-something, age doesn’t matter when it comes to couples failing to recognize what is a healthy relationship.  Jealousy and insecurity are like festering sores eating away at a healthy relationship.  In addition to privacy, other signs of a healthy relationship~at least according to the experts~include good communication;  kindness and affection;  freedom to express yourself;  sense of playfulness and fondness; honesty about sexual activities and respect for sexual boundaries; and, having separate identities and activities.

Some couples spend a lot of time together because they really enjoy it, while others spend a lot of time together out of fear of being alone.  Dependency is not healthy in a relationship, especially emotional dependency.

Each of us has the right to be treated with respect and the responsibility to be a respectful partner.  Commitment, communication, and compromise are all part of a loving, healthy relationship. Drama~digital or otherwise~is not.

~Carolyn M. Brown

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Be part of the solution. Stop Domestic Violence.

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Categories: Relationships
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