By Jackie Rainford Corcoran

There are some funny maxims about dating in ski towns. Women say about men, “The odds are good but the goods are odd.” Men about women, “When you break up, you don’t lose your girlfriend, you lose your turn.”

Now, in the age of online dating and smart phones, the jokes remain but technology has altered the way we date and pursue romance, for better or worse.

I moved to the small ski town of Big Sky, Montana as a 24 year old in 1994. Back in New York City, a boyfriend waited.

Without a cell phone in those days and to avoid a massive long-distance bill, I would call him from a payphone ¼-mile from my house. It was only October, but this became increasingly snowy, cold and inconvenient. Plus, the washing machines were competing for my quarters. After a month, it became apparent the relationship was doomed.

I then attempted dating in a ski town. These seasonal areas draw spirited, like-minded outdoor types who then move on to the next great adventure or get back to “real life.” I had several winter boyfriends and when they moved away – usually back home – the distance suffocated the romantic spark. I was at a loss, but I wasn’t the only one.

Enter Victor DeLeo and Tahnee Perry. After starting a long-distance relationship three years ago between DeLeo’s Big Sky and Perry’s Brooklyn, New York, technology was a liaison, at least at first. “Without technology, we couldn’t have made it,” said DeLeo, who would Skype his girlfriend for Saturday breakfast dates. “But it wasn’t enough.”

When their cross-country love affair reached a juncture, Perry booked a trip to Big Sky. They needed to hash out the issue face to face.

“When you have a conflict, never use email,” says Dr. Dierdre Combs, a Bozeman, Montana-based licensed mediator and expert in conflict resolution, who reports that 80-90 percent of communication is physical. “We desperately need tone and body language to make sense of another’s intentions and emotions.”

DeLeo rekindled his long-distance relationship with Perry, by moving to Brooklyn last June and sacrificing his love for the mountain he walked to every winter for 15 years. DeLeo claims he’ll always be a skier, but admits it wasn’t worth losing his love. “Living together is way better than FaceTime,” he says.

My boyfriend Colin and I dated for seven years in Big Sky and had our share of ups, downs and breakups during that time. I thought he might love skiing more than me. But one day in Central Park, technology saved the day.

I was visiting NYC after one such breakup, and had told Colin not to contact me. But when I entered the park via Strawberry Fields, I had a strange feeling that he was supposed to be there. Just then, “ring, ring.” He was calling my cell. I’m glad I had a mobile phone, and glad that I answered – we married in 2007.

Used in the right ways, devices and dating apps can enhance our intimate relationships, as long as they don’t dictate the way we connect. A partner’s touch still outweighs a text.

This story was first published in the winter 2015 issue of Mountain Outlaw magazine.