I’ll admit it…I’ve been on a romantic date with my husband, only to stop to post a photo on Instagram or Facebook about our dinner and how much I love him. And while I’m at it, let me just clear out those notifications. And go ahead and check email. Before I know it, five minutes has gone by and I’ve been staring at my screen, rather than looking into the eyes of my husband. Although well intentioned, I blew it.
I think if we’re honest, many of us struggle with being far too attached to our digital friends–our phones, tablets, desktops, laptops, and TVs. Researchers have found that it is in fact addictive. Every time your phone makes that magic beep of a new email, text, or phone call, our bodies get a shot of dopamine—which is connected to the pleasure systems of our brain, and therefore motivates us to seek out certain behaviors, such as food, sex, and exercise. We get instant gratification that stimulates our brain’s reward centers with every ding, beep, and ring. And as we become more addicted to that instant gratification, often our relationships suffer as a result.
So are you addicted, or at least far too digitally connected?
5 Signs You Might Be Suffering from Digital Distractions:
- Smart phone separation anxiety. You look at your phone as soon as you wake up, over coffee and breakfast, you carry your phone everywhere, and each time it beeps, you leap to check and see what notification you’ve just received.
- Ignoring others. You find yourself mindlessly passing time on your phone, tablet, or computer, while not attending to (and potentially ignoring) your spouse or others nearby.
- Being too available & responsive to your electronics. You find yourself viewing and answering text messages, emails, and tweets at all hours of the day and night, even when it means interrupting other things you are doing.
- People notice. Your friends and family have complained about the level of your technology use.
- You’re distracted. You text, email, tweet, or surf the internet while engaging in other activities that require your focused attention and concentration (i.e., driving, working, etc.)
If you find yourself guilty of the signs, here are a few tips on how to avoid digital distractions and focus on your relationship:
Tips to Avoid Digital Distractions
- Ask your partner. If you want to know if your electronics are impacting the relationship, just ask your spouse…he/she will be sure to let you know their opinion.
- Agree on certain times in which all technologies will be put away or turned off (i..e, computers, laptops, iPads, phones, tv, etc.), allowing for quality time interacting with one another. This can help communicate to your partner that he/she and the relationship is a priority for you.
- Agree to put your phones away during dinner. This gives you an opportunity to connect with your partner and to have open conversation without digital distractions.
- Adjust the settings on your cell phone and on your laptop, desktop or tablet so that you don’t receive the automatic notifications. This can help you become less addicted to the dopamine loop of your electronics.
- Make the morning count. Many people check email or social media before they are out of bed. Set aside at least the first 30 minutes of your day to do more positive things, such as having breakfast or coffee with your mate, working out, working on self-improvement—all without picking up your phone.
- Power off your electronics. An hour before bed, power off your phone, tablet, computer, or TV. Blue light waves are transmitted through our electronics, which can cause eyestrain, headaches, physical and mental fatigue, and inability to sleep at night. Not to mention, if your electronics aren’t distracting you, you create more of an opportunity for cuddling, and other physical affection or sex.
Technology is not inherently bad or bad for your relationship…it’s how you use it that determines whether it’s bad or good. In fact, check our our blog post, #RelationshipHelp: 5 Apps to Improve Your Relationship, where we share how you can use technology to better connect with your partner and improve your relationship.
If you think you or your partner has become addicted to technology, we can help. Learn more about our specialty in addiction and it’s impact on your relationship.
What are other ways you’ve figured out to prevent digital distractions from ruining your relationship?