Face To Face: How Phones Are Hurting Your Relationship

Are you reading this on your cell phone? And is your partner with you? If you’re guilty of staring at your phone while sitting with your spouse, you’re hardly alone. Many of us spend large amounts of time with our phones in hand, even when we’re with other people. Unfortunately, your phone obsession could be ruining your relationship.

A Recipe For Rejection

When we focus on our phones instead of our partners, we’re telling them that they aren’t enough — not interesting enough, not loved, not worth your time. And while that may seem like an overreaction, think about it for a moment. Though our phones are considered a socially acceptable kind of distraction, when we use them instead of attending to our relationships, it’s no different from any other kind of rejection.

In a loving relationship, the last thing you want to do is make your romantic partner feel rejected, and most people don’t intend for their phone use to be interpreted that way. In fact, often couples mutually ignore each other in favor of their phones. That means that stepping away from your screens needs to be a joint effort. And it’s okay to start small.

Creating Connection

Instead of focusing on your phone when you’re with your partner, it’s time to re-engage. Start by identifying key times when you want to be more present — “no phone times”, such as during meals or while watching movies together, and talk to your partner about it. If you share your commitment to reducing phone use, you’re more likely to stick to your resolution, and your partner can support you in your efforts.

It’s also important to recognize whether you’re just a casual phone user or if you feel a compulsion to check it. If you feel anxiety when putting your phone away, you may actually be experiencing phone addiction, an increasingly common problem. If that’s the case, you’ll need extra support from your partner in managing your emotional connection to technology and should work together to replace that attachment.

Get Back To The Body

In addition to making your partner feel rejected, one of the major problems caused by using your phone when with your partner is that it causes you to miss key elements of nonverbal communication. Sure, you might hear your partner when they’re talking to you, but you’ll miss their body language — posture, facial expression, proximity. These elements can all tell you more about what your partner is thinking and feeling than their words, but it requires that you look up.

While there are plenty of ways to use your phone to enhance relationship health, such as through Emi’s relationship reminder program, when you’re with your partner, it’s important to put your phone aside. Turn off your notifications, put your phone in another room, and look your partner in the eye. When you emphasize that face to face communication, you’ll experienced increased intimacy, a greater sense of closeness, and improved communication. By taking your eyes off your phone, you can reignite a spark that technology tends to extinguish. Now what are you waiting for?