Are you lonely because of your partner’s Smartphone?

Are you lonely because of your partner’s Smartphone?

Brittany said “When we first moved in together my partner Devlin used to get up every morning, make coffee and bring us each a cup.  We would talk in bed and be cosy together.  I loved starting my day like that.  He still gets the coffee but now he is on his phone right away.  If I say anything he just grunts.  I feel like I am living with a stranger.”

Our digital devices can be very compelling magnets for our attention.  Even partners who really like each other can start to be disconnected when they get mindlessly distracted by their phone, tablet, computer or game box.

Do any of these problems or situations sound familiar to you?

  • My partner is too distracted by their phone to be fully present with me.
  • My partner spends so much time on their phone that I feel like an afterthought.
  • My partner and I have pretty much stopped talking about anything except who will pick up takeout food for dinner.
  • I feel like I am eating alone because my partner is always texting or checking emails at mealtime.
  • I feel like I am at the end of my rope because my partner is so immersed in his game box.

These problems can happen in any relationship because digital devices are very compelling and we can develop bad habits before we know it.

This happened to me when I started using an iPad.  When I first got an iPad I realized that I was only giving my wife part of my attention if she came by to talk when I was on the iPad.  I felt this tension between the pull of the iPad and my wife’s wish to talk.  I realized that I needed to be mindful in those situations because I did not want her to feel like Brittany.

Now when she would like to talk, I close the cover on the iPad and set it aside.  I had to do both steps – close it and set it aside, in order to be able to give my wife my full attention.

What changes would be helpful for you and your partner?  When Brittany talked to Devlin about her frustration, he agreed to stop checking his emails until after they had enjoyed their morning coffee ritual.

Would any of these changes be a blessing for your relationship?

  • Turn off devices while you are eating together.
  • Go on a ‘date’ and agree not to check your phones until the date is over.
  • Plan to spend 20 minutes every day hanging out, chatting and catching up with all devices turned off.
  • What other activities or situations would you like to protect from the distraction of digital devices?

You may be surprised that it can seem weird or difficult to disconnect, even for 20 minutes, from your digital devices.  But if you have been feeling lonely or irritated because of digital distractions it is important for the longterm health of your relationship that you and your partner make some changes.  Start small.  Maybe just agree to eat one meal a day without digital distractions.  Use the time to renew your friendship with your partner.  Relationships that are nurtured every day will last a lifetime.

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