Guy Winch Phd writes in his book ‘Emotional First Aid’ about a study from Brigham Young University in the U.K. that found of 143 women in relationships, the majority reported that phones, computers and other devices were significantly disrupting their relationships and family lives. The study found that excessive phone use by loved ones can lower overall well-being. Considering how many devices we have to contend with when wanting more closeness in our relationships, the task seems very challenging. Do you check Facebook more than you check how your partner feels? Do you spend more time on Instagram or Youtube rather than being interested in your partner?
If you or your partner are using technology during time that could have been used for the relationship, the more it happens the more irritating it can get. You and/or your partner may feel rejected and this hurts. Even if you are both using tech at the same time, romantic opportunities are still being missed, and your relationship may not be being nurtured enough.
What’s even worse is when you are already in a romantic (or potentially romantic) moment and you or your partner takes a call or looks at a text or tweet. What message does this send? It is easy to interpret the behaviour as ‘this message is more important to me than you are.’ If this happens enough the message becomes stronger, such as ‘you are not worthy of my attention.’ Feelings of rejection increase, and resentment can too. And we humans re-experience emotional distress more vividly than we do physical discomfort. If an emotional wound is left unresolved it can negatively impact the whole relationship. Relationships can even end over technology interference.
Consider addressing the issue in the following ways:
- Negotiate what is reasonable technology use, including amount of time spent, and what day and time is best to use tech. Make an agreement and a way of holding each other to account for it, such as rewards and punishments. This may be the only way the habit can really change for the better.
- Discuss how to make the relationship a priority, at least for some time each day. This includes being clear about what quality time is, and how each of you prefer being loved (actions, words, touch, things?).
- Create technology-free zones, such as the bedroom, dining room, outdoor decking, etc. so that you can spend time together in these spaces without worrying about interruptions
- If your number 1 priority at home is what is best for the relationship, then you will both make the right decisions
- Express your needs and desires in positive terms rather than point out the problem too much, which just causes more arguments
- Simply practice doing one thing at a time. Eat while you eat, drive while you drive, play while you play, nothing else.
As in all relationship issues, good communication is the key to resolving tech disputes. If you respect each other enough and value the relationship, you should be able to reach an agreement about what is reasonable.