“Darling you fulfil my life, you inspire me, you understand me, you make me feel alive, I don’t think I could live without you…oh right, yes you do too hun.”
That is the conversation I think that must run in some people’s heads when you look at couples out for dinner with two phones between eyes instead of loving looks. Do people really love their phones as much if not more than their partners?
Do our phones damage our relationships or are they a saviour?
Do they bring us closer together or tear us apart?
Is there a new 21st century date night rulebook that we should abide to?
For me, the smartphone is a true gift and a curse. My husband and I both have to work away from home and at the touch of the button we can feel like we are at home loitering around the kitchen with Spotify on in the background, dog going crazy and standard teenage conversations going on as dinner is cooking, alas we don’t get to eat the food or have to deal with the teen dramas of the day (so there’s instant good and bad too) but are they really a good thing for relationships, especially with the person we wish to spend the rest of our lives with?
Here are my 8 top tips to smartphone love and I’d say I have a little bit of knowledge on this since me and my Hubby renewed our vows last year after 25 years together and 21 years of marriage, fear not, I will do my best not to get too lovey dovey in my ideas for you, just useful ideas for you;
Rules – If you have children it’s highly like you have a “no phones at the dinner table” policy. Why? Because you want to engage in conversation and feel connected to them. Here’s the thing the same applies to every conversation, not just loved ones. If you’re in a business meeting and you look at your phone instead of making eye contact, the person speaking can feel disrespected and unappreciated. This is not just about your sweet heart’s love this is about your professional success too. Give it a try – in one meeting keep your phone out and give the polite “I’m listening to you, I just need to reply to this too” kind of comment that people give, then try the deliberate action of putting your phone out of reach and ensuring people know you have no intention of looking at it. This action sends a clear message that the people in this room are very important. If you believe you will have no choice but to look at your phone (because this does happen on a big day at work, or with poorly family member) then ensure you politely say before the meeting starts that you may need to take a call it’s urgent, and you greatly apologise for any inconvenience it may cause. Phones can be a source of connection or disassociation when their power is used inappropriately.
Dump the rules – make up your mind Mandie you just said have rules! When you have rules with Teenagers do they abide by them all? Possibly not, because it’s the age where we really start to test the boundaries (well that and 2-year olds – there’s a reason why it’s called the terrible twos!) By bringing rules to the table you are enforcing a way of acting. If you push against a person’s hand with your hand invariable they will push back. Instead of bringing rules in if you help those that you love and wish to respect a way of acting that is good for everyone then they are far more likely to naturally abide by it because they feel the same that this is what they want.
Don’t judge – I actually don’t overly mind seeing people on their phones over a meal out. I am not them and they are not me. I don’t know how their day has been. I don’t know what they are going through. For some people flicking through social media or the news or their favourite sports is a way of unwinding, so if their night out starts with 20 minutes scrolling so that the conversation is relaxed who am I to judge?
Pick up your phone – Bit of an oxymoron right? You could find that picking up your phone when you get home is a good thing so that you take out your frustration of the day, you process what happened subconsciously without offloading on your partner and then creating a negative atmosphere to your evening. However, make sure it’s clear to your partner that you just need “20 minutes” and explain why. Ie “It’s been one hell of a day, and I just need 20 minutes to let my brain become unfried, do you mind darling?”
Listen – the phone is for listening as well as communicating. Many of us forget this and only share our thoughts and don’t take the time to hear others thoughts. You may be brilliant or bad at listening, however, to make the phone a thing of love in your relationships learn to use it for listening too. Texts, messages, digital media platforms even that old-fashioned phone device whereby you can hear another’s voice to communicate, whatever is your style, truly listen to what the other party is saying and if you don’t feel you understand ask questions. If you really want to build love and not loathing ensure your questions don’t’ start with “why?” Why questions create guilt, whereas “what was the reason?” Enables opinions to be shared without blame.
I often run my business from my phone. I have Lupus and so it’s great that I can just hold a phone, connect with clients and readers of my book around the world and not even have to move from the sofa. The problem with this is that we are on so many different time zones that I could in effect engage on social media platforms 24 hours a day. And since my approach leads to sales and business growth and opportunities I know it is all too easy to become addicted to my clever little phone and the results I get. How awesome that I can get a message from someone in South Africa saying they read my book and it changed their life! That kind of thrill and excitement can become addictive especially when you look up from your phone to see your husband moaning at your teen who hasn’t done the recycling. Rather hide in your online world, right? Being aware of what kind of smartphone user you are is important. I know I’m addicted to doing a great job in my business and ludicrously passionate about peoples happiness and success and as such I know that if I don’t monitor my hours and the way I spend my time I would risk my health and the happiness of those around me. So be aware of what kind of smartphone lover you are? Be aware of how it impacts on your life and loves?
Studies around the world are showing us that children as young as 13 are being treated for digital technology addiction, so it’s not just your love life that could suffer. Get it under control.
The science of being you.
Because of my passion for others and the urgency that social media platforms can create in our desire to reply to everyone immediately I know that I need to get my Hubby to help me. If I’ve got a big event the next day my own family rule about “no phones 2 hours before bed” can go out the window as I like to ensure everyone is ready for the next day and has from me what they need. I know that the guilt I feel of letting these people down can be overruled by my guilt at not being there for my children and husband. In effect I’m saying “Hey daughter, I’m less interested in you than I am in someone that is going to listen to me speak for 45 minutes and then goes back to only seeing me online a few times a day.” Great message about my respect and love for my daughter right? (And makes me a lousy role model for her adulthood too!) Creating guilt for me ensures I keep my priorities in the right order. What would do that for you? Understand the science of being you to really find powerful motivators into putting the phone down.
Have you ever watched a couple who have been together for over 50 years and they can just sit and say nothing? I used to look at couples like that and think “Why aren’t you talking!” but now I get it. When you are truly in love you can spend time together and not need to say a word. In fact, on many an occasion, my husband has started a conversation and it turns out (without any visual clues) I was thinking the same thing! If you really want to know your true love, times where you don’t talk, just be together can be just as powerful. And there is no law that says that a smartphone can’t be in the room. It doesn’t happen very often but once in a while I and my Hubby will just sit together with a cup of tea or a glass of wine and chat a bit, play on our phones, chat a bit, and just enjoy being together. No agenda. No destination. Just together. If your smartphone creates topics of conversation and helps you avoid silence that you worry about. Then why not? Just don’t hide behind your phone. I and my husbands’ relationship can sustain a little smartphone love because we’ve spent years listening, respecting and loving each other. Although even now the smartphone is not for our bedroom!