Electronic Affection

A few days ago I saw the Bright Maidens topic of “Public Displays of Affection” specifically “in the Digital Age.” I did not think much of it until I logged into Facebook and remembered one of the comments bemoaning spouses posting on each other’s wall.

My chest tightened just a bit as I unconsciously held my breath while reading my friends’ expressions of affection.

I have only been married three short years, but I find it impossibly amazing that this love exists! I have it. And if that weren’t miracle enough, so do so many of my friends.

I look at one friend and silently gasp with joy at the fact that he has found someone perfect. Someone who has made him happy. Overwhelmingly happy.

I look at another friend and want to cry in awe of how his wife still adores him despite their worlds being entirely upturned in their marriage which is no longer than mine.

I look at my husband and I wonder how it can be true. How can he have such a strongly positive emotional reaction to me? And how can he still be willing to act as if I am of utmost importance regardless of how he may feel?

I have had friends whose electronic displays of affection departed into pathetically raunchy. Today they are divorced. Somehow they hardly seem worth thinking about. There is nothing surprising in juvenile confused lust falling apart.

What is shocking–breathtakingly, mindboggling shocking–is how so many friends of mine can dare to publicly express a lighthearted, passionate love as if it were guaranteed to last forever. How can they post pictures holding each other as if it were the most natural thing in the world to be infatuated and unafraid?

I look at the frequent kisses in one friend’s photo albums and am amazed at how comfortable they are with this thing called romance.

I see another’s picture of a love note left by her husband on their refrigerator and have to smile at how she can joyfully share it with her world.

I watch the banter of another couple and know that their marriage too will last for another day.

They say that children are more secure when they see their parents comfortably affectionate with each other. Perhaps I am a child but the whole world seems more secure to me when I see evidence that the couples I love are not merely going through the motions–they are so happy in love!

The truth is that most of my friends are not especially open about their romantic relationships. While I may be the queen of TMI, I doubt that I type nearly enough about how wonderful Josh is.  And this is precisely why I am so thankful for the friends who, while in the minority, manage to fill a significant space of my electronic world with their displays of romantic affection.

This thing we call betrothed love is so very special. I cannot be anything other than thankful for those who cannot conceal their gift.

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10 thoughts on “Electronic Affection

  1. Nomad Librarian

    The whole idea of electronic displays of affection is interesting to me. My husband had a (professional, and because of his profession, highly personal) objection to Facebook, blogs, twitter and other social media. Yet I see others who use those methods to communicate when aprt and feel a little bereft that he doesn’t. I also wonder why it matters what we say on Facebook, when so many couples who live in the same location are sappy beyond belief there. Can anyone really tell he is “gone” because of what I say on Facebook and twitter? But in order to show love to him, I have to keep my digital displays if affection to a minimum…because that is his wish. Hw does at factor in to your ideas about “concealing the gift”?

    1. Rae Post author

      I think it is beautiful that even in this comment you show how much you love your husband.

      I tend to agree with you that unless you were posting giant heart-shaped tickers with countdowns “until I’m in his arms again” that a bit of Facebook love is unlikely to be noticed. But it is also sweet that your husband sees it as so significant.

      And I should be clear that while I see exuberant openness about affection as a wonderful gift I don’t think it is something that many of us can have for various reasons. I don’t think there is a picture of me and Josh on Facebook that you couldn’t just as well replace one of us with a sibling.

  2. Kelly @ Startup Wife

    I really, really loved this post. (And I am currently doing research on execution for a project and it’s two a.m. and … yeah, it’s been a dark, emotionally terrible night, so you have no idea how much this was just what I needed.)

    1. Rae Post author

      Thank you for your comment though ugh for the circumstances under which you read this! I haven’t done anything resembling that since college, but the darkness is impossible to forget.

  3. Kendra

    I liked reading this from a different angle!

    I agree that genuine love and affection, including public displays, are nice to see. I enjoy seeing my friends happy in their relationships and seeing that they truly care about each other.

    The problem I’ve had (and I mentioned this in my own post) is just when it’s overboard and/or insanely personal. For example, I once had friend who wrote status updates about her totally awesome boyfriend an average of 3 times daily, and ended every single one of them with ~~~**~*~iloveyou[name]~*~**~~~. That got old, and presumably embarrassing for him. She literally wrote about NOTHING else. Unsurprisingly, they broke up eventually.

    Public affection, sure. Public obsession and/or sharing every single intimate detail, not ok.

    If that makes sense?

    1. Rae Post author

      I think I know what you mean and that it may be the inevitable problem of Facebook changing over time. It is crazy challenging to try to combine 20 different social worlds on a platform originally designed to help you figure out whether you really want to date that guy you hooked up with last night at a frat party. So I totally get your point, but it also doesn’t feel worth condemning the wheat because of the tares.

      I sometimes wonder how the less religious feel about people gushing constantly about Jesus online. I would love to see a Bright Maidens post about that!

  4. Michelle

    I don’t think that another person is the key to happiness. Nobody except myself is the cause of my emotions. Also, I think that most PDA is a sign of insecurity in the relationship, a way to “advertise” the “security” to others, or simply to make them envious. Just my opinion. I am not personally into PDA, digital or otherwise. Children are the exception (no issues with being affectionate to my kids, whether or not there is a camera present). I am speaking strictly about adult relationships.

  5. Rebecca

    I agree, genuine affection shared is awesome! And when I see things like Kendra talked about I often think to myself ‘who are you trying to convince that this guy/girl is awesome? Me or yourself?’ I always just say a prayer in hopes that the love they are exuding is genuine.

    What I do agree with is that I do think the world just seems a little safer when there are couples in love around! As the family goes, so goes society.

    Have I already told you I’m so glad you’re back :)?

  6. Susan

    That is an interesting take–”I find it impossibly amazing that this love exists”–about your relationship and others. You see, some people who are alone (or who’ve been unlucky in love) don’t like social-media PDAs because it reminds them of what they don’t have. Instead of seeing the displays of affection as encouragement of what they could have (or that true love does exist), they see them as something they’ve lost. It’s like seeing the glass half empty. (Then again, if you’re in that bad of a mood, you probably shouldn’t be on Facebook.)

    I do believe that some people overpost about their partner for attention or validation. But if they’re sincere, it’s good to see them happy.

  7. Kacie

    I loved seeing my parent’s romantic cards to each other on their dressers. Facebook does make things interesting. I love seeing the declarations of affection when they aren’t CONSTANT, but then when a couple who seemed solidly openly affectionate recently divorced, it makes me call it all into question.

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