Wireless relationships.

There’s information you can get from reading history books and then there’s the wisdom you can get from the people who have actually lived it.

Dr. Shirley Zussman is 100 years old and has been counseling people for over half a century. She has witnessed tremendous shifts in cultural attitudes around sex and relationships and last summer TIME magazine profiled her and transcribed some of her insights.

There was one in particular that I really liked:

Dr. Zussman says, “I’m shocked at the lack of connection between people because of iPhones. There is so much less of actual physical connection. There’s less touching, there’s less talking, there’s less holding, there’s less looking. People get pleasure from looking at each other. From a smile, and touching. We need touching to make us feel wanted and loved. That’s lacking so much in this generation. Lack of looking, lack of touching, lack of smiling. I don’t get it. I don’t get how people aren’t missing that, and don’t seem to think they are.”

Ironically, many couples today are probably in more contact throughout the day than couples were decades ago. Between all the various avenues of technological communication, it’s relatively cheap and easy to communicate. But the cost of these advances is that true connectedness- which is ultimately what so many people are desperately seeking- is lost because partners have their heads turned down to their phones instead of towards each other. An emoticon is not a real emotion; “MWA!” is not the same as getting a real kiss. What we gain in convenience we lose in connectedness, and as the distance ensues, so does the loneliness, despite being in what may be a very compatible relationship.

Every generation has new challenges that put pressure on relationships. Being that Dr. Zussman has lived to see the various shifts, her sentiments are all the more enriching.

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