Clearly, most of us are overly attached to our mobile phones. And, while many of us recognise that we have bad mobile phone habits, many don't make an active effort to change, even when their usage is affecting their relationship. Here are some simple strategies you can use to make sure your mobile phone doesn't destroy your relationship.
Image remixed from penguin (Shutterstock)
Prioritise Your Partner Over Your Phone
This is an obvious point, but it's still one that most people tend to disregard. Most of us are reasonable people; we understand that mobile phone use is necessary in this day and age. But what really feels hurtful or frustrating is when your partner ignores or interrupts you to check their mobile phone. It leaves you feeling second to a hunk of metal and plastic. Here are some easy ways to show your partner that they're your priority:
- If you and your partner tend to get up around the same time, make sure you greet your partner before checking your phone. Say good morning, exchange a little kiss (morning breath be damned!), and spend a minute cuddling. Your day will be so much more pleasant if it starts off this way instead of having the first thing you see be the annoying email your coworker sent!
- Turn your mobile phones off or put them away at night. Spend your last waking minutes interacting with your partner.
- You can also consider banning mobile phones from the bedroom altogether.
- Aim to spend 20 electronics-free minutes a day with each other.
- Put your phones away or on silent and talk to each other during at least half of your meals.
- After sex, spend 10 minutes cuddling and talking before you reach for your phones.
Totally manageable, right?
Be Overt About When And Why You're Using Your Phone
Most of know that our partners don't like us spending so much time on our mobile phones, so we tend to be sneaky about when we're checking our gadgets. This strategy almost always backfires, as most of us aren't nearly as slick as we think.
You can avoid hurting your partner's feelings by being very clear with them about your mobile phone usage. If you had an insane day at work, tell your partner, "I'm really sorry, but I'm going to need to keep my phone by my side the entire evening to make sure the project gets off without a hitch." If the story your partner is in the middle telling you reminds you that you may have left the oven on, tell them that's why you're taking your phone out of your pocket. Oftentimes, some incredibly simple communication will prevent fights from starting, and smooth things over.
Improve Your Listening Skills
Smartphones have made multitasking so much easier that most people think they can multitask while holding a conversation. Sadly, most partners do not take too kindly to this. Whenever you and your partner are talking, make an active effort to put down your mobile phone and look him or her in the eyes (actual human interaction! Ack!). Don't pick your phone up again until the conversation is finished. If you have a hard time reading social cues, you can ask your partner, "are we done talking? I want to check Facebook, but didn't want to interrupt you."
Even people with excellent mobile phone etiquette can benefit from taking periodic vacations from their smart phones (just like porn!). Try keeping your phone out of the bedroom for an entire weekend. Turn off your work email notifications every day at 5pm. Or have one mobile phone-free day a week (No Phone Sundays?). If work prevents you from fully shutting off, try having a "minimal phone day" where you only check in at predetermined times.
Use Your Phone For Good
Smartphones aren't all bad! There are definitely ways you can use them to improve your sex life. Send your partner sweet little text messages throughout the day, letting them know they're on your mind. Or send some saucy ones, to build up anticipation for seeing each other that evening. You can even play fun games with your smartphones, like making whoever checks their mobile phone first owe their partner a (sexual?) favour!
You can also use your phones to make communication a bit easier. It is preferable to communicate in person, but I think that texting can sometimes pave the way for in-person conversations that wouldn't have happened otherwise, especially when it comes to sex. If text is the only way you feel comfortable even bringing up a certain topic, then by all means, go for it! Just try to set a goal of working up to getting more comfortable with in-person communication.
Make Your Own Guidelines
What I've written above are just some ideas for starting places, but you and your partner know your relationship best. Sit down together and have a conversation about realistic mobile phone guidelines. Here are some questions to get you started:
- What has been tricky for us in the past when it comes to our smartphone usage?
- What can we do in the future to make each other feel like the priority?
- Are there certain places or times that we want to keep phone-free?
- Can we agree on completely acceptable times for smartphone usage?
Come back to this conversation every so often and revise your guidelines as necessary!