02/13/2007 07:15 pm ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Where Has All the Passion Gone?

I am beginning to think that Valentine's Day is obsolete.

Mailing a card, sending flowers, buying chocolates.....this is terribly old-fashioned in an age of cell phones and instant messaging, Blackberries and Skype.

Before we can even type LUV U, the object of our current affection is probably logged on to a chat room and discovering a few new eager, like-minded pals. By the time we find a suitable greeting from Blue Mountain Cards and send it on its way, that same love object has probably scoured and is sharing intimacies with half a dozen new suitors.

Naturally, in self-defense, we do the same, and so Cupid's arrow
scratches a number of people but never hits one target firmly and surely.

Is this how nature intended for us to evolve? To scatter our erotic
energy over a multitude of websites and deflect our earthly passions into
the virtual universe?

I should hope not. But there it is. With a click of the keys, we
can send amorous epistles to our entire address book. Or, conversely,
tell them all to get lost.

Making and breaking relationships seems fast and easy, but holding on
to one you've got is hard work. Or so I learned recently when I heard a
lecture and demonstration by two well-known couple-counselors. In real
life, they are husband and wife; professionally, they are robots. To
resolve conflicts between partners, they propose an extraordinary kind of
verbal exchange, using a weird vocabulary, very clinical and devoid of
emotion. I tried to imagine how this would have sounded between my mother
and father:

"Murray, could I ask you to take some time to dialogue with me?"

"Yes, Ruth. You seem to have something on your mind."

"Yes, Murray, I do."

"What is it, Ruth?"

"I am always reminding you to take out the garbage, Murray."

"Am I correct in assuming that bothers you, Ruth?"

"Yes, Murray. That is a correct assumption."

"What do you suggest I do, Ruth, to help the situation?"

"Well, Murray, I think it would be helpful if you took out the

"Without you reminding me, Ruth?"

"Yes, Murray."

"Would that really make you more comfortable, Ruth?"

"Yes, Murray, it would."

"Very well, Ruth. I acknowledge your request and will try to honor

"Thank you, Murray, for validating me."

You know very well that no couple, whether newly smitten and
starry-eyed or stodgily married for forty years, will talk this way. Nor
should we want them to. Because, futile as it is to flaunt our feelings
on the internet, it is just as foolish to squelch our feelings with some
intellectual wordplay. In both cases, we are removing ourselves from
human reality.

Here's what a real relationship looks like:

"Dammit, Murray, I'm sick and tired of always reminding you to take
out the garbage!" She hurls a dish into the sink. He grabs the garbage
pail and storms out the door.

He comes back an hour later, with a bouquet and a box of chocolates.

And that, dear reader, is passion.