Does it seem like every time you look over at your partner, he is glued to his smartphone screen, doing who knows what? You ask him a question, wait for his response and all you get is a simple, “what was that?” or “huh?”
What could possibly be so interesting and taking up this much of his time? And how do you live with it, without grounding him from technology or throwing it out the window?
Your partner doesn’t have to be messaging other woman via email or social media in order for technology to be causing damage to your relationship. Feeling like you have to compete with a smartphone, tablet, or other device can easily lead to resentment and dissatisfaction in your relationship.
What he’s doing
Chances are your partner is scrolling through harmless websites, such as ESPN or CNN. If it’s an ongoing issue, it can certainly become annoying, but isn’t necessarily grounds for divorce.
However, if your partner is developing a porn addiction or messaging other woman via Facebook or Instagram, there is a bigger issue going on. Gaming is another favorite thing for men to do on their phones that can become a problematic distraction.
Before you can start to tackle the problem, find out what he is looking at the majority of the time. If it’s innocent websites that he’s visiting, then read on to see how to deal. If he’s looking or talking with other woman, then seek counseling help immediately.
Why he’s on it
For most people, scrolling through various things on our phones or tablets is an escape mechanism. As we look through social media sites, funny memes, or look up Fantasy Football scores, our brain relaxes as we get to tune out the stress and worries of daily life.
Technology also gives us a simple way to avoid one another. For some men, it may be easier to hide behind a screen and than to have a real conversation. They may not want to put forth the effort into communicating and building connection.
How to deal
Know that you are not alone. A study found that 75% of women felt they had to compete with their loved ones’ devices for attention. The study referred to this as “technoference” — when our attachment to our devices interferes with our relationships.
Men aren’t the only ones at fault or who have this problem. Plenty of women are constantly checking their phone for Tweet updates, messaging friends, or scrolling through Instagram while having a conversation with their partner.
It can be painful to be the partner on the other side of the screen. You probably feel neglected and unimportant. It’s also annoying and frustrating to have a conversation with your partner and get limited or no response because their attention is elsewhere.
How to deal
If technoference is something that is truly impacting your relationship, then speak up and let your partner know. Be careful that you don’t attack them, but instead focus on their behavior and explain how it impacts you.
Come up with a plan that both of you are can live with. Together, you can set some boundaries such as getting a certain amount of uninterrupted screen time after work to decompress for the day, or agreeing that both of you will put your phones aside at 7 pm each night and leave them until the next morning.
When you go out to dinner or an event together, agree to leave your phones in your pockets and not retrieve them at the buzz of a new text or alert. One person in the relationship can take the lead by letting their partner know they’ve had a crazy week and want to focus on each other, without any distractions.
Sharing your concerns with your partner is the first step toward resolving any relationship issue. The idea of feeling neglected or ignored isn’t a new relationship issue. Technology just creates a new medium for it. Keep an open line of communication with your partner and focus on expressing how a situation makes you feel, instead of attacking your partner personally. Your partner will likely be more receptive to hearing you if you come at it with the right approach.