Are our smartphones the new mistress?
In a number of ways, our brains don’t understand where our body ends and our phones begin. We see them as an extension of our personality, experience, and life. Staying up-to-date on Facebook, posting pictures, and having our businesses more streamlined, makes it difficult to know where we end and the phone begins.
As a result, when a significant other challenges the phone, we feel it’s an attack against a part of us. But the phone is not a part of us. It is a tool and entertainment.
Are the feelings of jealousy and other emotions that come up when a partner has been unfaithful similar to what happens when one partner pays more attention to their phone?
Couples that don’t communicate on a regular basis about technology, boundaries, and limits are setting themselves up for overt and passive conflict. Similar to when email came out, beepers, or other devices, negotiating the use of the phone is now something every couple needs to discuss.
How are iPhones and or technology negatively affecting relationships? Ex. Bringing phones to bed?
Smartphones have a high potential for negatively affecting relationships. For example, phone use before bed disconnects you from your partner, during a time that can be emotionally connecting, this also hurts sleep, which leads to mood changes, and is then perpetuated through on-going stress in the relationship.
What can we do about it?
Effective couples plan on “phone free times.” This could be 10 minutes of focused conversation at the end of the day. It may be watching a TV show as a shared experience and snuggling instead of each being on their phone. The bedroom may be a “phone free zone.”
Also, phone use may go in waves. For example a busy time at work may mean that phone use goes up. Communicating that is important, “Right now things at work are crazy. This week, I’m going to be on my phone more, but you can count on me to be mentally present for dinner and after 8:00.”
Bio: Joe Sanok, MA, LPC, NCC is the owner of Mental Wellness Counseling in Traverse City and is a consultant with Practice of the Practice. He has the #1 podcast for private practice owners, The Practice of the Practice Podcast.