We love our phones.
It’s true. We want them, we need them, we think of them as an extension of ourselves. We feel that way so much that, “Put your phone down, please,” can seem like an unreasonable request. But in truth, you are putting your partner in a precarious position and it is you, refusing to put your phone away who is unreasonable.
Let me explain.
Being constantly interrupted by beeps, dings or cute doggie barks while trying to enjoy some quality time with your honey is not just a little bit annoying — it’s frustrating and even hurtful. Keeping your phone close by and on while spending time with your partner communicates a subtle but powerful message that impedes the nurturing of love and intimacy. Here is why.
Science agrees: cell phone use erodes real world connection
Research into the bright and dark sides of our interconnectedness suggests that technology is expanding our public lives but destroying our private ones.
A few years ago, two experiments conducted by Andrew K. Przybylski and Netta Weinstein of the University of Essex suggested that just having a cell phone around was problematic. Their research found that just having your phone in sight, or even turned off in the background, diminishes our focus and willingness to open up about deeper feelings!
Essentially, relationship damage is done by the fact that cell phones fragment our consciousness and interrupt our ability to be truly “in the moment.” Sue Johnson, a well-respected couples’ expert, agrees in her book, Love Sense: “technology reflects a profound lack of awareness about our need for intimate emotional connection. In a good love relationship, if we can turn off the screen, we can learn to say what really matters to us in ways that build connection.”
Still not convinced?
Consider this: refusing to put your phone down introduces insecurity, boredom, disrespect, and loneliness to your relationship. Mindful, considerate attention and responsiveness are essential for meaningful interaction with anyone, especially your partner. It takes full focus to get lost in the moment and another person. Isn’t that what romance is all about?
Unfortunately, persistent phone use sends another message. Loud and clear.
5 Things Your Cell Phone Use is Telling Your Partner
- I don’t really choose you
Constantly checking your cell phone while being with a loved one sends the clear message that you are not into it. Is that how you feel? Are other things or people way more fascinating than the person right in front of you? Do you want your partner to feel disconnected or left out?
Probably not. But, to them, refusing to put your phone down feels like plain old rejection. And soon, resentment becomes a third wheel in your relationship.
- “I’m not ‘all in.’”
Allowing your phone to star in your relationship implies you are content with being partially present. Your partner may worry you no longer share the same relationship goals or that something or someone is pulling you away.
Choosing to put your phone down to connect is vital, as it reassures your partner that you’re still in this thing together.
- “Don’t get too close.”
Some of us hide behind our screens. When was the last time you walked into a Starbucks in Beverly Hills and everyone sitting across from each other actually carried on a conversation without also checking their phones? Phones can be a convenient interruption to intimacy or a tool for avoidance. How often do you resist your partner’s requests to put your phone down in an effort to avoid discomfort, conflict, or vulnerability?
In 2011, The Pew Research Center determined that 13% of surveyed cell phone users used their phones to “prevent unwanted personal interactions.” That figure climbed to 30% for ages 18 to 30!
- “I’ve connected too much to connect with you.”
When you spend too much time cyber-connecting, real world relational numbness can result. Frequent phone time feeds your mind with immediately rewarding, quickly processed relationships. You feel relationally stuffed from serial tweets and posts. Too full for a healthier, lasting connection and deeper interaction.
Your real relationship requires awareness and responsiveness. These qualities get lost when phone use trains your brain for self-serving interaction and a short attention span.
- “Your pain is not my problem.”
It sounds harsh. But failing to address an issue that is hurting your partner signals that you don’t care. And, soon, you run the risk of reading about the demise of your relationship in a break-up text.
Put Your Phone Down…You Can Do It.
It takes effort and self-control to put your phone down. But for the sake of your relationship(s), do it anyway. Slip it in a drawer. Let voicemail, email, and Facebook inboxes fill.
Then, look at your partner’s face. Say, “I love you. I’m here.” Your partner’s been waiting for you. Feel that? That’s a real connection. That’s good.