My wife and I were relaxing at home the other night when I looked over and realized that both of us were paying more attention to our cell phones and iPads than to each other. This doesn’t happen too much, but it really made me think.
“Look at us, what are we doing!?” I asked my wife. We were sitting right next to each other, yet we weren’t even speaking to each other.
We stopped what we were doing, set our devices aside and began connecting with each other. Whatever was happening on our electronics could wait.
The above scenario happens so many times a day across the world. Researchers have found that in this technology-driven society, we are no longer seeking out face-to-face communication. The convenience of the Internet and mobile devices has overtaken the need to engage in person. If we don’t try to connect with someone in a personal way, we will eventually lose the ability to become close and intimate with others.
Although technology has several benefits and connects us in some ways, many people are getting too attached and relying heavily on texting and social media as their primary means of communication. Despite the “social” in social media, people are becoming less personal than they used to be.
All of this got me thinking about some simple tips that have proven to help us better connect with our loved ones.
Q1: How can I set aside electronic free time?
A:You and your partner should agree to set aside some time, even if it’s just 5 or 10 minutes every day, to actually talk and listen to one another. During this time, it’s important to turn off your personal electronic devices (PEDs) and set them out of sight so you are not distracted by things like email, Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook, or other social media.
This shows your partner that you care enough about them to remove distractions.
The same applies when you are out to lunch with a friend or coworker. Ditch the phone, turn it off, or put it on silent or airplane mode so you can focus your full attention on actually conversing.
Of course, if you’re a medical professional or if you’re a patient waiting to hear from your doctor, there are exceptions.
When you do this, you are letting your company know that they are truly worthy of your full and undivided attention; that you are open to connecting and sharing your time together; and most important, that you care. It also gives you a chance to mentally break from the stress of the online world and enjoy the gift of conversation with the person across from you!
Tip: For at least 10 minutes a day, make time where you and your partner give your PEDs a time out. Instead devote that time to each other. It’s just a few minutes a day, but even just a small window of time can help you connect with your loved one.
Q2: Is it ok to deal with conflicts over the phone?
A: Based on my own personal experience as well as recent research, the short answer is no. Electronic devices cannot take the place of in-person contact.
When you’re actually in the same room as your partner, you notice much more. You see their face. Their body language. The subtle looks. Even their breathing patterns. These things and many more help you better understand what someone means and where they are coming from, things that you simply can’t get via texting or messaging someone.
Emoticons are a little helpful, but still don’t fully express what we mean to say. If there is physical distance between you and it’s urgent, pick up the phone, FaceTime or Skype to actually hear and see each other. This will help you hear pauses and emotion in their voice, and see important visual cues.
Tip: Agree with one another that you will strive to handle any issues in person.
Q3: How can my phone affect my sex life?
A: There are so many times where one member of a couple has told me that they feel that the presence of a cell phone or other PED has harmed their sex life. Once again, research supports that using mobile devices in the bedroom hurts the sex life of many couples.