This seems to be a bad thing but it doesn’t always have to be. McRaney explains that it can be a useful way in building strong relationships:
In 2008, psychologist James Graham at the University of North Carolina conducted a study to see what sort of activities kept partners bonded. He had 20 couples who lived together carry around digital devices while conducting their normal daily activities. Whenever the device went off, they had to use it to text back to the researchers and tell them what they were up to. They then answered a few questions about their mood and how they felt toward their partners. After over a thousand of these buzz-report-introspect-text moments, he looked over the data and found couples who routinely performed difficult tasks together as partners were also more likely to like each other. Over the course of his experiments, he found partners tended to feel closer, more attracted to and more in love with each other when their skills were routinely challenged. He reasoned the buzz you get when you break through a frustrating trial and succeed, what Graham called flow, was directly tied to bonding.
It’s not just about time spent, but rather overcoming difficult tasks together. You have to keep doing it, too. If a relationship is feeling stale, or you want a good way to get to know someone better, try taking on something challenging. You might just trick yourself into a better situation.
For the full story, be sure to read McRaney’s excellent article over at You Are Not So Smart.
Misattribution of Arousal [You Are Not So Smart]