We’ve all experienced a conversation being interrupted by a cellphone. That’s the new social norm. But, what matters is acknowledging the inevitable emotional fall out – and the consequences. You are affected by this interruption and so is whomever you are with. The more that you care about the person (or they care about you), the greater are the emotional reactions. Feeling an emotional sting when a phone interrupts a conversation can occur when you are with someone with whom you are ‘just’ friendly. And the sting really swells when the interruption occurs when you are with your partner & in a serious romantic relationship. There is something deeply unsettling when a machine takes precedence to you and diminishes the value of your company.

Greater consequences arise when a partner just ‘checks’ the phone during a conversation or time together! When a person connects with their phone while with their partner, research actually concludes that this can actually make their partner depressed.

Cell phone Affects on Romantic Relationships:
Let’s look at the good news first. Cell phones can keep partners connected during the times they are apart. Letting the other know they are safe and where they are can help a couple feel more connected. Sending an occasional endearing message to let the other know that you are thinking of them is appreciated and known to really strengthen a relationship.

All is good until the phone becomes like a ball and chain. That’s when the expectations shift to needing to know where the other is at all times and expecting an immediate response to every text. For some, the longer it takes for one to respond to a text is calculated as the less they care and feeds the rejection gauge. When one assumes that the other person is always available, there is a problem. A less dramatic response would be to assume that your partner is in a situation that is engaging (interesting) and requires their full attention. Let’s remember the importance of ‘being present’.

The ‘ball and chain phenomena’ becomes extreme when your partner expects you to send photos of who you are with and constant notifications of your exact location. These demands are more like harassment and control versus an intrusive pain.

Yes, there are emotional reactions that need to be recognized. When you are using any of the e-communications, you do not get to see the person’s response or do you know when they will actually read the message. What are they doing? What is their mood? Acknowledge that this communication is often out of context; the cues of body language, facial expressions and voice tone are not available. And this is not occurring in real time.

“Crucial Conversations” author Joseph Grenny recently looked into what he calls “electronic displays of insensitivities,” or EDIs, and reported an astounding 89 percent of his VitalSmarts.com survey of 2,025 individuals reported that this behavior has damaged a personal relationship. Ninety-percent say “that at least once a week, their friends or family stop paying attention to them in favor of something happening on their digital devices,” and one in four say that it has caused a “serious rift.”

The bulk of people surveyed were from 40-60 years old. It can be assumed that the responses of younger adults and teenagers would be significantly different. Those surveyed expressed frustration about not knowing what to do when in these situations and agreed that this behavior was rude.
Developing a Healthy Response
Well help is on the way. Here are some suggestions from the experts on how to expertly integrate digital devices into your hot romantic life.

First of all note how you feel when you are interrupted: are you annoyed or are you pleased to be distracted? And how is this affecting the person you are with? Your needs to be identified- especially if the interruption is when you are with someone you care about! Pay attention to your own behavior: how often do you turn to your phone when you are with your partner.

Lets look at phone behaviors in two different categories: when apart and when together.
When apart:
1. Try to be more casual about e-communications when apart. Don’t keep a mental record of the times you heard from your partner. Don’t expect to hear from the person at regular or scheduled times. And don’t have a formula equating response time to amount of caring!
2. Send notes of endearment in a limited fashion. Do not inundate your partner. Overuse of sending ‘sweet nothings’ is that they will have less impact and less importance. What would be worse is if these spontaneous affectionate comments become expected and mandated.
3. Talk to each other about your daily schedules. Let your partner know if you are expecting to have a particularly intense day or not. That should give them the ‘heads up’ not to worry when they don’t hear from you. Remember “How was your day dear?” is a meaningful question.
4. What to do if your partner is the bad behavior problem? Show him/her this article and share a few pointers.

When together:
1. Clarify when usage is valid and with whom. It may be assumed that if one of your relatives (a parent or child) contacts you, the phone will be answered. Take the time to construct a list of people who would fall into that category or hypothetical scenarios when that interruption would not be hurtful.
2. Agree to establish times and locations when phones are off and not just in the movies or at a concert! Experiment what works for you: should phones be cut off at dinner or not on in the bedroom? What about an hour before bed if that is your time to unwind and check in on each other. And phones off during sex!
3. Talk to each other about how the other is doing? Feedback is key to communication.

So, let your phone be a positive partner in your romantic relationships. Let it help grow intimacy and not be a downer.

Wishing you healthy relationships in the era of constant communications and change. Look to the SmartSex app for answers to all your questions about relationships and sex. Free Downloads @ iTunes‎ #SmartSexapp

Share The Story

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *