By Joel Ramirez. Social Wellbeing Expert and Author of ‘Better Together’.

‘Can meeting people virtually still create strong relationships?’ was the topic at a recent event I was a guest speaker at. The short answer is, yes, it can, but it just takes longer. On the other hand, meeting people face-to-face releases oxytocin – coined the ‘love hormone’ – which plays a role in social bonding, and helps to build relationships and trust faster.

In her TEDx talk titled ‘The secret to living longer may be your social life’, Susan Pinker explains how digital interaction is not the same as interacting in-person. She said, “Face-to-face contact releases a whole cascade of neurotransmitters… Simply making eye contact with somebody, shaking hands, giving somebody a high-five, is enough to release oxytocin, which increases your level of trust, and it lowers your cortisol levels, so it lowers your stress. And dopamine is generated which gives us a little high and it kills pain. It’s like a naturally produced morphine.”

So if you ever wondered why it generally feels good seeing a friend or close colleague in-person, now you have the scientific evidence to explain why that is. In a world where technology has allowed us to connect faster and more efficiently with others than ever before, it turns out the secret to building better relationships and possibly living longer and healthier lives could be as simple as seeing people the old-fashioned way: in-person.

When you apply this to dating, traditional dating apps only facilitate swiping through digital profiles, however there are so many benefits to being able to meet people in real-life, including being able to strike up a conversation straight away and get to know them. When you meet people in-person, you are also better able to see subtle cues in their body language, micro facial expressions, and interactions. It also kind of pushes you to speak with someone you might not normally have otherwise. Sometimes, the best person we are meant to connect with is the one right in front us. It doesn’t have to lead to anything, but it certainly helps you get to know the person – faster. 

Joel is a Social Wellbeing Expert, award winning entrepreneur, speaker and author of ‘Better Together, why loneliness is killing us and what we can do about it.’, and is passionate about social wellbeing.