04/19/2016 12:14 EDT | Updated 04/20/2017 05:12 EDT

Our Social Media Addiction Makes Dating Even Harder

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Couple text messaging in nightclub

Spring is finally here. It's been a long, dark winter and many of us are eager to feel the sun on our face again. It's time to leave the warm cave where we've been hibernating and start reconnecting with our fellow human beings -- some of us might even want to get back into dating.

Even with the worst of winter behind us, everyone still spends so much time online these days that it could be getting in the way of forming meaningful bonds with others.

We're conducting many of our "relationships" online, but this doesn't necessarily help us to create good connections in the real world.

Whether it's writing on our Facebook wall, sending out tweets, or posting on Instagram or Snapchat, "connecting" online is getting easier and easier, while in-person relationships are becoming more and more challenging. And there are reasons for this.

In an article in Psychology Today Magazine, Dr. Alex Lickerman states that technology has made it harder for us to connect. The author says that online communications can be less empathetic than in-person conversations and also more confusing, both of these due to the limits of technology.

The skills that make us good at online communication don't translate into the real world, and "relationships" online can have very little to do with real-life connections.

Dr. Lickerman goes on to say that "It's much easier to injure friendships online than in person because of the ease of creating misunderstandings electronically. Non-verbal communication... (which could be 40 per cent of normal human communication) is completely absent."

In another Psychology Today article, Susan Biali, M.D. makes the point that "web use is linked to... the loss of real-life friends."

According to an article in the National Deseret News, "Kids who spend more time engaging with a screen than with other kids or adults can struggle to understand emotion (or to) create strong relationships (with) others."

This article quotes psychologist Jim Taylor: "Kids are spending so much time communicating through technology that they're not developing basic communication skills that humans have used since forever."

A Boston-based psychologist, Dr. Kate Roberts, is quoted in the same article as saying that spending a lot of time online "is not developing our verbal skills or our emotional intelligence."

She goes on to say that, "Right now, at Boston College, there's a course on how to ask a person out on a date. It's like we've lost the skill of courtship and the ability to make that connection."

If you've spent the winter holed up at home, avoiding the chilly weather by curling up in front of your laptop, it might be challenging to think about the prospects of going on an actual in-person date.

Even if you've been chatting on various dating apps such as Tinder or Zoosk, meeting an actual human being in the flesh is completely different than online banter.

The skills that make us good at online communication don't translate into the real world, and "relationships" online can have very little to do with real-life connections.

People often hide behind an idealized online persona that's more attractive, clever and accomplished than they actually are.

It might be frightening for someone who's been misrepresenting themselves online in this way to risk an in-person date, for fear that the other person will be disappointed by the reality of who they're meeting.

On the other side of this coin, everyone's aware of the possibility that they're communicating with someone who's been disingenuous about their age, appearance or marital status, and that they might even encounter a predator who's up to no good.

Even after a phone conversation, you never really know who you're going to meet until you're face-to-face with this person, and sometimes, it's a rather unpleasant surprise.

Even if the person you've been chatting with online is legit, how do you go from typing out witty conversations on a keyboard to sitting face to face, in all your vulnerability, trying to establish some genuine points of connection? If you've been mostly relating to technology for months on end, how do you start relating to a real human being?

This is a real challenge. In my next post, I'll discuss ways that you can transition successfully from online interactions to satisfying and lasting in-person connections.

Sign up here for my free monthly wellness newsletter. May is all about resilience and bouncing back from adversity to live your best life.

You can buy my latest books on creating successful relationships: Women Decoded, to help men understand what women want and how to choose the right woman, and Back on the Market, to help women successfully return to dating.

Listen to my latest podcast, with amazing artist and sculptor Jeff Deboer, about creativity, transformation and the hero's journey.

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