In the last 10 years technology has surpassed everything we could have imagined. The dawn of the smartphone changed how we approach business, social events, networking, & yes even relationships. It’s allowed us to connect with that special someone instantaneously instead of having to hope you run into them again at the same coffee shop or library. However, with all the positive things that come from this ease of connectability also comes some challenges that could ruin your relationship before you’ve even ventured beyond “the honeymoon” phase.
1. Distracting during quality time –
We’ve allowed phones to take precedence over our friends, family & significant others. The people we are with don’t seem to matter when we are talking with people through a phone. Not knowing when to separate our digital life from personal life causes a staggering 75% of unhappy relationships (according to a recent survey); additionally, the same survey reported that 3 out of every 4 women admit that smartphones are interfering with their love life. Now guys, before you start fist pumping the air in celebration & saying “I told you so” 25% of these women said their partner has texted or in general been on the phone during an important conversation, so this isn’t an entirely one-sided problem. The fact is, we’ve fallen in love with technology as a society & the people who mean the most to us are made to be a “third wheel”.
Tip: Make a pact with your significant other. Agree when it is & is not acceptable to be on your phones, then during these specified times, place your phone somewhere away from you on silent & really listen when your sweetie speaks. The key here is to work together to be better, so don’t get defensive when you get called out for “technoference”.
2. Dating apps –
The rise of dating apps like Bumble & Tinder have fostered instant gratification & trained our brains to pursue pleasure rather than a real connection. Yes, many successful marriages can be attributed to these apps, but these are the exceptions, not the rule. Dating has become a game of “catch me if you can” instead of an honest attempt at getting to know one another, & commitment has become a rare quality. Ultimately, our brains have become trained to stay away from commitment & when a relationship is on the rocks, it’s too easy to to cut ties & pursue a new endeavor. The path of least resistance is often the path most traveled & dating apps offer that easy alternative. Call me old-fashioned, but what happened to digging in & working through the bad times to fix the problem?
Tip: If you’re single & on a dating app, limit your usage per day, you’ll be glad you did later. Besides, an in person introduction is always more memorable & meaningful. Refer to tip #1 & swipe right on commitment.
3. Over sharing –
Not everything that happens in your life needs to be broadcast to the world. In fact, studies show that keeping some photos & memories private between the two of you can strengthen your relationship bond up to 33%. This doesn’t mean you can’t make a heartfelt recap post of your latest getaway vacation, but don’t let posting on social media & counting likes interrupt quality time with your honey. The cold, hard truth is that no one appreciates what the food looked like, what outfit you wore hiking in the Andes or what song you danced to during sunset, quite like you, so be in the moment with your significant other & enjoy this time together. If the angle of the selfie isn’t just right, that’s OK, you’re perfectly imperfect for each other & besides, a happier, healthier relationship isn’t built by the moments you shared on Instagram but the moments that take your breath away when you unplug & live in the now together.
Tip: When you take pictures, don’t post them immediately, they aren’t time sensitive. Ask yourself, “am I living in the now?”
4. Relationship comparison –
We are inundated with posts that celebrate how happy couples are, how someone’s boyfriend bought flowers “just because”, or how certain celebrities have “the perfect life”. Constantly seeing these types of things subconsciously makes us compare our real life to other people’s online relationships. We focus on strangers’ lives rather than our own & set unrealistic goals for ourselves. Consider this, no one posts about the fight they just had with their husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend. No one writes “This candid photo isn’t actually candid, it took 30 attempts but this is the final product of me pretending the camera just caught me randomly”. Everyone has a backstory, & that perfect celebrity couple that you were in love with? Turns out, someone was cheating on someone & they aren’t together anymore. Smiles & filters hide a lot of secrets, so don’t compare your relationship to anyone else’s. Be happy with you & focus on making your relationship the best it can be for your circumstances.
Tip: When you find yourself or your sweetie comparing your life to online profiles, stop & remind yourself of 3 things you’ve got that you wouldn’t change for anything.
5. Can’t escape the past –
FB has an amazing feature where it shows you what you posted 1 year or 5 years ago! It’s fun to see these flashbacks but with good memories can also come bad, extra baggage. When you allow people & events from your past to spill over into your present it’s not fair to your significant other. Yes, if you’re in a committed relationship they will stand by you through it but no one wants to hear about what your ex did or didn’t do. Exes belong in the past, don’t hold any of that over your current BF/GF’s head & expect them to keep their cool & pretend to care. Not only can it hurt your partner & your current relationship but it can also hurt your own emotional growth.
Tip: Be honest with yourself, don’t get involved in a serious relationship if you aren’t ready to let go of past issues. Leave the past in your rear-view.
6. SMDA (Social Media Display of Affection) –
Yes it’s a real thing. This is something that is almost expected nowadays & if you don’t do it, you somehow don’t care about your significant other like you say you do. Saying “I love you” is thrown around like a beach ball & has lost its sincerity. Remember this though, digital relationships aren’t as important as what we do in person. Actions will always speak louder than words & surprising your man with a home-cooked meal or bringing a bouquet of your lady’s favorite flowers home from work is still more meaningful than posting online that you love them.
Tip: Let’s make this short & sweet. On #mcm (man crush Monday) or #wcw (woman crush Wednesday) it’s fine to make that post, but don’t stop there, show your man/woman crush that you love them in person by your actions.
7. Relationship status pressure –
“But is it FB official?” We’ve all been there, but what did we do before technology? Yeah, the idea is cute & it’s pretty cool to have your phone blowing up with FB notifications of “congrats” or “yay, you two are totes perf for each other” & the like but does anything actually change between you? Some are in such a rush to feel validated that they put unnecessary pressure on their budding romance & force it into a box for which it’s not yet ready. This causes more harm than good & the “relationship status” causes more hurt feelings in the unfortunate event that it gets changed back to…. “single.”
Tip: Remove the relationship status option from all social media. If you’re in a relationship then be in a relationship but don’t rush it & don’t force it to be something it’s not.
Phones have the unique ability to connect us with new people & reconnect with old acquaintances but like a magic wand, they can destroy just as easily as they create. When faced with the choice of “what is more important” remember that we have phones to make our lives easier & that they are a tool to strengthen our friendships, our communities & ultimately our lives. When we allow them to control us they no longer are a positive influence in our lives but an addiction that needs to be curbed. So make an effort to set down the phone, look at the person next to you & really engage in good old interpersonal communication!
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