Is your Partner Addicted to their Smart Phone?
It is hard to imagine a time when smartphones didn’t exist. In a pre-smart phone world, we had to navigate with paper maps or directions, often getting lost. The anxiety of showing up late is better eased today through smartphones – just shoot off a text telling your party you are running late. Fixed! No need to call. We are all transfixed by our phones and staying connected digitally. Everyone is doing it - on the bus, walking downtown, at the local coffee shop, busily tapping or scrolling away. We’ve also all seen the cute couple having a romantic, candlelit dinner…staring down at their phones.
What happens if we forget our device, lose it or it stops working? We panic and feel disconnected; we send mass Facebook or email updates alerting everyone that we are off-line.
Why on earth are we so connected to these little devices? Are we happier with them in our lives? Ironically, research clearly shows that those that spend more time Facebook, report more unhappiness than those that don't. A new study from the University of Michigan psychologist Ethan Kross found that the more people used Facebook, the less happy they felt—and the more their overall satisfaction declined from the beginning of the study until its end. We also see that those that spend more time in general online also report the same thing: more unhappiness. Why do we continually subject ourselves to being glued on such devices? In a short brief answer: we like to be distracted.
If distraction is something you crave, then yes, being addicted to your smartphone can hurt your relationship. When you choose to engage with your phone instead of your partner, you are sending the message that, “This is more important than you.” Send that message often and you will eventually erode your relationship. Our guess is that your partner will start to mimic your behavior and become intimate with their phone too. Or, they will find another way to engage with the world, and it might not be with you.
How can we change this addictive and destructive behavior? Here are three simple ways to get off the phone and start paying attention to your relationship.
Be with the one you are with.
When you are out to dinner, at a special engagement, and during 1:1 time with your partner, make a concerted effort to not check your phone. Put it somewhere it isn’t visible at least; even better, turn it off.
Being uber responsive doesn’t make you awesome to hang out with.
If you receive a text or phone call while you are with someone, there is not need to look at it instantly. There are no extra points for that. The person you are with will appreciate that you are paying attention to them, and not a text coming in.
Monitor how much you check your phone.
Make rules for monitoring incoming messages. For example: I’ll check my phone once in the AM, once in the afternoon and twice in the PM. Just like a soap opera, you will be surprised how little has changed, despite checking your phone less.