Do you ever sit in bed with you partner wanting to connect? Talk? Kiss? Maybe even sing? But before doing so you have to request that the phone that they are on be put away? Or perhaps it’s the other way around. Your partner regularly asks you to put your phone away? Whatever the case or where ever the venue may be (the car, the couch or the dining room table), let’s look at how we can do a better job taking care of one another.
I have worked with a couple, where one of the partners is self-admittedly anxious. This individual’s mind is constantly racing. A question pops into their head that begs for an immediate answer, and their phone gets picked up to research (Google) the answer. However, once the answer is found, there’s a new question that comes up related to that answer. I hope you see where this is going. For every question there is an answer, and for every answer there may be another question. Repeat.
If both partners are caught in a cycle of this nature, then there may not be a problem, given the assumption that they do connect in other ways. Maybe their feet touching while one hangs out on Facebook and the other on Instagram works. However, if only one partner is doing this there may be a problem … and based on my experience working with couples, if one partner has an issue, well, there’s an issue.
If you are the partner that wants more direct non-phone holding attention and you are wondering how to navigate this issue, I’ve got a few suggestions.
Let’s not make the phone and your partner the only complicit entities to your discomfort. This may be a tough pill to swallow, but perhaps you are not that interesting. I am being somewhat facetious, but consider the direction that I am traveling. Is there something engaging that you may initiate and/ or initiate a conversation about?
Presuming that you share a bedroom, ask that both of you keep your phones outside of it. This may have a beneficial impact, if your partner is agreeable and doesn’t exchange the amount of time spent in your bedroom with time in the living room on their phone. This may alleviate the ease of picking up a phone as it sits next to or in the bed should the urge arise. A person would actually have to get up and leave the room.
Have some fun. Get in on the phone interaction by sending a text to your partner while you all are sitting right next to each other. Post about how good they look on Facebook. Maybe even send a selfie of your puckered kiss.
If you are sharing a car ride, see if you can agree for the passenger-partner to put their phones in the glove compartment … away from the immediate temptation to see what is trending on Twitter. If the driver doesn’t need their phone for directions, put that one away too. Given that phones are often how we listen to music while commuting these days, they may be some additional logistical navigation needed. Hopefully, you get the picture and the general spirit of my suggestion.
If the two of you are out to dinner, see if you can negotiate leaving your phones in the car or leaving them in their resting locations (such as your pockets or purse). If you can’t do that, consider sitting next to each other, on the same side of the table, and looking at just one phone together.
It is worth noting, each of these recommendations at some level, are rooted in a dynamic where partners care about issues that bother the other. This may naturally feed into an if/ then cycle which says, if a partner shares a behavior is bothersome, in this case, one companion spending too much time on their phone, the companion that is on the receiving end of the comment will care about what is shared. In fact, I suspect in nine out of ten relationships, it is safe to say that the partners care about each other.
If you can accept and/ or believe that your partner cares about you, do your best to avoid defaulting to a lack of care being the root issue when you are not seeing any movement (or improvement) towards less phone time. This means, work to avoid the assumption or disposition which assumes your partner is not changing their behavior because they don’t care about you or what you are sharing. Instead of feeling rejected or irritated as you watch your partner spend, what you perceive to be an excessive number of hours on their phones, consider being empathetic.
The Social Dilemma, a Netflix movie, is a compelling story about the addictive intentions and effects of social media. The credibility of the production is bolstered because some of the people sharing the intention behind the creation of some of our engaging technology platforms built them. Yes, our infatuation, where applicable, is no accident.
Please consider the addictive impact of social media and cell phones on your partner. When considering it, bring understanding, and love to your approach. Your companion may simply be addicted [to occupy (oneself) with or involve (oneself) in something habitually] to a “drug” that tech companies have spent billions of dollars to get them hooked on.
The bottom line, please approach your partner with love, lovingly. In doing so, you are not only addressing the phone issue, but you are helping to create a culture of compassion and understanding during trying times. And that’s Powerful.
Frank Love coaches individuals that are in and/ or wish to be in a relationship on ways to be more loving. He is also the author of the forthcoming Relationship Conversations You Don’t Want to Have (But Should Anyway) and 25 Ways to Be Loving.