“Phone batteries last longer than relationships these days.” – Annoymous
This past weekend, Rocket and I caught up with friends we hadn’t seen in a while over Lebanese, Afghan, and Thai cuisine (all in one weekend)! It was great to spend time with friends after such a long time, as well as eat some of our favorite foods. However, all of this social activity left very little quality time for Rocket and I to spend together.
Saturday evening we decided to take a walk around our neighborhood in search of kulfi (Indian ice cream) without our cell phones! I know the title says Friday….Phone Free Friday just sounded better! After the walk, we continued our no cell phone evening with dinner and shopping.
In the beginning, it was just nice to get away from any screen activity. But once we decided to forgo our cell phones for the whole evening we realized how much more fun it was to be “present” in each other’s presence. In fact, we rarely reached for phones, and when we did it was only for utility (parking payments) and because we wanted to add to our to-do lists.
At the end of the night we realized how liberating it was to be without access to our phones and the internet. It helped Rocket and I connect on a deeper level even though we didn’t realize that was needed in our relationship. With the abundance of tech, these days it’s easy to get into a routine that can lack intimacy. “Higher levels of “technoference” (use of technology) was related to greater levels of conflict as well as lower relationship satisfaction.” For us, Rocket and I found that leaving behind our cells gave us real, uninterrupted quality time enabling a more enjoyable experience than our typical night out with phones in tow.
Lately, I have talked with a few couples in which cell phone usage seems to be a big source of disagreement. In fact, studies have shown that frequent cell phone usage during quality time (conversations, meal, or romantic outings), sends a message of rejection to your partner – showing that the phone is more important. These rejections, no matter how small can lead to feelings of resentment, anger, and low self-esteem. A recent study by Brigham Young University suggests that higher levels of “technoference” (use of technology) was related to greater levels of conflict as well as lower relationship satisfaction (Click here to read).
So what does this mean in terms of practical relationship advice? I would never suggest being extreme and demand your partner to cut all technoference (phones, social media, tv, ec). Technology has its advantages and is at times a necessary and unavoidable part of our job, hobbies, or interests. With that in mind, I think it’s important to discuss technoference in your daily life and establish fair expectations in regards to usage while keeping an open mind. This is what Rocket and I are currently working on.
We use technology a lot during our day. I wouldn’t be able to write this blog post if I didn’t use a computer and internet. Rocket has business calls with people around the world in different time zones. We live in a different country from our families and close friends, so in order to keep in touch we often talk to them late at night. That being said, just a few phone-free hours this past weekend really drove home the importance of creating boundaries and technology free zones.
We still need to discuss our specific plan. It could be having one day or an evening per week without technology, or it could mean that cell phones are off during dinner time and before bed. Obviously plans to limit technoference and maintain intimacy in a relationship will be specific to your relationship and habits, but open communication and flexibility (i.e. willingness to change) will be essential to that discussion! We haven’t put a lot of thought into this yet, but will share our ideas when we do.
In the meantime, I can’t wait for our next technology free adventure! 🙂