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Stop your phone killing your relationship

August 19, 2014

By Jon Stribling

Back in the old days (before 2005) going to sleep was a simple thing: Brush teeth, change into bed wear, kiss your partner good night or engage in some healthy consensual relationship building, and then sink into a blissful relaxing sleep for at least 6 to 8 hours,

In 2014, things go a little like: Brush teeth, change into bed wear, realise phone was left in lounge room and retrieve, fumble with the charger, trawl twitter/facebook/reddit/the Internet, grunt when your partner says goodnight, and finally sink into a fitful sleep to wake at 4am so you can check twitter/facebook/reddit/the Internet. Consensual relationship building has to wait until you’ve posted that amazingly snarky tweet about politics/religion/sports/your dog.

Whilst smartphone technology and social media have enabled greater global inter-connections and expanded individual social relations, they have also become a source of tension between couples.

A PEW Internet survey from earlier this year reported that 42% of 18-29 year olds in USA felt that their partner was distracted by their smartphone while they were together. Overall, 25% of couples in a relationship felt that their partner was distracted by their phone while spending time together. It isn’t all bad though, the same survey found that 21% of couples had experienced greater intimacy due to text messages or online interactions whether this is related to the increase in sexting was not reported in the survey.

With a quarter of relationships under pressure from smartphone use, some guidelines are needed.

Don’t look at your phone on a date

This should be pretty obvious. A meal with your partner is an opportunity to relax, experience great food, luxuriate in new surrounds, not stare distractedly at a Buzzfeed listicle about Vladimir Putin and pandas. Keep your phone in your pocket or handbag. Turn it to silent with no vibrate and give yourself the opportunity to experience and learn from your partner. If you can’t help yourself looking, do it in the bathroom so your partner feels like they’re the centre of attention, not your slab of glass.

Don’t take the phone into the bedroom

Bedrooms are for sleep and sex not Facebook. make your partner the last thing you touch in the evening and the first thing your caress in the mornings, not your phone. And that “but it’s my alarm clock” argument is bullshit. Buy an alarm clock.

Set times to connect and disconnect

If you really have a problem with staring at your phone and responding with a distracted “uh huh” or “yep” while your partner tells you about their live then you need to enforce scheduled screen times. Agree with your partner when you will connect and when you won’t. For example, you might agree that at home your phone stays next to the charger not in your pocket, and allow yourself to check it every hour for 10 minutes. You can also install the Moment App (iOS only) which will help you limit the time you spend on your phone.

Go on a digital diet

Going on a digital diet or having a digital sabbath every week are popular ways of limiting smartphone and Internet use, and creating the space for more intimacy with friends, family, and most importantly, your partner.

Make sure any sexting is consensual

Blokes, here’s a tip: most women think the meat and two-veg look pretty funny and don’t get turned-on by a shot of you naked, semi-erect, and desperate. Make sure any sexting leaves a little to the imagination and is going to be part of a mutually enjoyable foreplay or flirtation not an in your face cock-punch.

Good luck. Now I need to go and find my phone.

Jon Stribling is a digital marketer, product guy, technology enthusiast, fan of words, lover of small animals, amazing husband and father, and former coder living and working in Melbourne, Australia. He is also trying to spend more time with his wife, not his phone.

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