Is technology ruining your relationship?
Smartphones, tablets, social media - technology makes it easy to access information online, keep in touch with our loved ones and share things that matter to us. But with smartphone addiction a real problem, it could be that your relationship is suffering because of technology. There's even a term for this phenomenon - technoference. But how do you know if technoference is ruining your relationship and what can you do to fix it?
You don't have meaningful conversations any more
'Technoference' is defined as 'distraction or interruptions stemming form the use of technology devices such as phones, tablets, television or computers.' There are couples out there who prefer communicating via their devices, or using their devices instead of sitting down and having a real conversation with their partner. Technoference could affect your relationship and impact your life satisfaction - it can make you feel like your partner is less committed to the relationship than you are. To put it bluntly, if somebody is spending more time chatting on their phone than they are communicating with you, it's bad news.
Fix the problem
Make time to be with your partner, without technology. Agree to turn your phone off, or if you need to have them on for emergencies, switch them to silent and spend some quality time together. Agree that neither of you will answer your phone unless its urgent. Emails, text messages and anything else like social media can be left until the next day. Our mobile devices may make us contactable 24/7, but we still have control and you don't need to immediately respond!
You can't resist checking your phone
It could be that you or your other half can't leave your smartphone alone. You might need to have a serious talk about technoference if your partner spends all their time on social media - yes, we've all been with the boyfriend or girlfriend who spent more time tagging themselves and photographing what you were doing than actually being in the moment with you! Or it could be that your partner can't get away from online gaming or checks their email compulsively.
Fix the problem
Create a space in which you can be honest with each other by initiating the discussion and explain to your partner how it makes you feel when they prioritise technology over your relationship. Expressing yourself in this way opens up a space for negotiation. It might be that you both need to make a promise regarding your use of technology - like organise a 'no phones' date night once a week. Most of us spend more time using our mobile devices than we admit, but you can change your bad habits by creating boundaries and learning what you will and won't put up with in a relationship. Your needs are important - and sometimes you have to be selfish in order to be happy. Having time away from technology to spend together can help you to connect with your partner; it could even prevent a breakup!
Screen time has replaced sexy time
Sometimes, connecting with your partner can feel like effort and when you're busy or feeling tired, slumping in front of the TV screen or playing games on your phone can be easier. Creating strong boundaries about the use of smartphones and other devices in your home means you'll minimise the impact technoference has on your relationship. In order to maintain a sexual connection and enjoy each other's company, it's vital to designate times and locations where technology is banned.
Fix the problem
For example, try making the bedroom a technology free zone (that means laptops, smartphones, even the TV) - this can not only improve your sex life, it can also help you to get a better night's sleep. The blue light emitted by touchscreen devices can upset your body's circadian rhythm, making it harder to drift off. Plus, there's nothing less sexy than a partner who keeps checking their phone!
Tecnoference can seriously impact not just your romantic relationships but your connections with friends and family too as well as your happiness. Spending time 'in the moment' means you'll feel happier and enjoy your life more - when you detach yourself from things by taking photos, tagging yourself at a location or using your phone, you're withdrawing from a social situation. People may perceive you as rude - and it's amazing how we have adapted to using phones in social situations over recent years. It used to be considered rude to take a phone call whilst out for dinner, and if you did have to, you would excuse yourself. Now we're all uploading pictures of our food or selfies to instagram and tagging ourselves on Facebook, when we should be fully immersing ourselves in the situation and spending time with the people we are out with.
So next time you're spending an evening with your partner, or out for dinner with family and friends, switch off your phone, or at least put it on silent. Don't let technology ruin your relationship!