Two-dimensional relationships are on my mind today.
My friend Jennifer triggered my thoughts when she said something like, “Annie Rose, you want to be seen in all of your dimensions. Right now you’re seen in two dimensions, and you want to be seen in three dimensions.”
I wondered, what does it mean to be two- or three-dimensional? And what does it mean for relationships? I started to think about it.
I have several friends with whom I primarily keep in touch via Whatsapp. We chat almost daily, and I learn a lot about them through flat words on a digital screen.
Sometimes I feel like I’m missing out on something.
Today I sent one of my friends a voice message—the first in a while. He responded back, mentioning that it was good to hear my voice. I realized that I too wanted to hear his voice, and that doing so would actually provide me with something that was missing.
This same friend sometimes sends me pictures throughout the day. I see his home, his kids, his car, his workspace—little square pictures of his daily life. I love those pictures, and I depend on them to get a sense of who he is. His pictures add a dimension to our otherwise flat relationship (which, I must mention, is only flat because we live in different countries and time zones).
Many of us participate in two-dimensional relationships because they’re convenient and our digital age is conducive to them. We chat with people on flat, two-dimensional surfaces, and we get a sense of who people are and what their lives are like through flat media. Sometimes we add pictures, voice messages, and videos, and all of those help breathe additional dimensions into our interactions.
When I engage with a person’s typed words, I gain access to one dimension—his words, or his thoughts essentially. I must imagine his voice, his actions, and his way of being. Even if I have a great sense of who he is, those dimensions of his are flattened.
When I engage with a person’s photographs, often accompanied by words, I gain access to yet another dimension—one that gives me a sense of his perspective and how he relates to the world in front of him. His life ceases to exist in my imagination, and I get a real sense of his broader dimensions.
When I engage with a person’s voice, I gain access to another dimension. I hear his cadence and tone, and many of his words and thoughts come to life.
When I engage with a person’s video, I experience his words, voice, perspective, and way of being. I get to witness his actions. I get to hear and see his emotions and get a sense of his surroundings. He becomes almost three-dimensional.
When I engage with a person in person, I experience everything about him—at least that which he presents to me—and I get a truly three-dimensional experience. I engage all of my senses, and I experience him as who he actually is.
And I noticed, just as I wrote the sentence above, that when we find ourselves face to face with someone who has hidden or flattened some of their dimensions, we truly sense that we are in the presence of two-dimensionality, don’t we? We sense when someone is not interacting through three-dimensionality.
All of that said, I don’t believe that any dimension of interaction is better or worse than the other. They are simply distinct. Sometimes two-dimensional interactions are perfectly satisfying, and other times three-dimensional interactions are a must. We get to say what we need and when.
I’m noticing that I need a balance of the two, and that each can be equally satisfying depending on my needs in the moment.
What about you?
In love and liminality,