Clinton Power explores the issue of over-reliance on digital devices and how it can negatively impact your relationship. He encourages couples to take a break to reconnect “IRL” (in real life) if disconnection is occurring.
There’s no doubt that with the digital revolution in full swing, our world has radically changed and our day-to-day life is now embedded with technology. I predict that technology will become even more deeply ingrained in our culture and integrated into our relationships. I’ve always been fascinated by how technology and the internet impacts relationships. As much as I love technology myself, I’ve seen first-hand as a relationship counselor how it has the potential to help or hinder relationships.
It’s possible you’ve noticed in your own relationship that technology is getting in the way sometimes. As powerful as it is in helping you stay in touch with friends and family across the globe, its also has the potential to get in the way of healthy and secure functioning in your relationship. That’s where a ‘digital cleanse” in your relationship can be helpful.
A digital cleanse – or detox – is exactly what it sounds like- taking time away from your digital devices, so you can reconnect IRL (that’s internet speak for ‘in real life’). When it comes to your relationship, there are many benefits to having a digital detox, but first you need to identify if your relationship needs one.
Here are 5 signs that indicate it’s time for you to take a break:
1. You’re feeling disconnected from your partner
The first thing you need to be aware of is the quality of the connection in your relationship. If you’re noticing you’re feeling disconnected, alone, or isolated in your relationship, it’s important to take note of these feelings. One of the great things about a digital detox is once you remove your digital devices from your relationship for a period of time, you naturally start to move towards each other and reconnect in a real way.
This ‘tethering’ to your partner (not your iPhone!) is essential for a safe, secure and healthy relationship. You want to make it known that your partner is important to you; that your relationship takes the highest priority above all else.
2. You’re communicating with your Facebook friends more than your partner
I see so many people get lost in social media and totally hooked on being connected to their Facebook friends 12+ hours a day. Never before have our lives been so public, or have we known so much about our friends- and this information is exchanged the instant it happens.
If you love being connected online at all times to your friends, make sure you check in with yourself if your relationship communication is out of balance when compared to your online communication. A digital cleanse may be in order if you are more aware of what’s going on in your friends’ lives than your partner’s. Take a break from your devices to refocus on your relationship and rebuild your connection.
The thing is, once you have a break, it’s all there when you come back, and you haven’t really missed out on anything important. But your own relationship will reap the rewards of you investing quality time with one another.
3. You take your mobile devices to bed with you
This is a big issue for a lot of couples I speak with. The iPad in the bed seems to have a direct relationship with a decrease in your sex life. The iPad is potentially responsible for killing the sex lives of countless couples across the globe. By all means, play on your tablet before going to bed as much as you want, but keep your bedroom for sleeping or having sex. These associations alone are good for your health, as you psychologically associate going to bed with only these two activities.
If you’re unsure, see what happens if you go one week without any digital devices in the bedroom. If you’re stuck for ideas, lie down next to your partner, gaze into her eyes, and just talk about your day. Notice what happens next and enjoying losing yourself in your partner instead of your iPad.
4. You don’t last longer than 10 minutes in a restaurant before checking your phone
This is a modern day phenomena- couples in cafes and restaurants not talking to each other and looking into their Smartphones. The sad thing about this is your digital devices are compromising the quality time you’re spending with your partner. Challenge yourself to go a meal without checking your phone, or better still, leave it at home before you go out. Enjoy reconnecting with your partner; be curious about his day, make plans for your next holiday or share your dreams for the future with each other.
A digital detox is your opportunity to strengthen your relationship ties, deepen your knowledge of your partner and increase your emotional intimacy.
5. You can’t remember the last time you left home without your digital device
I’ve heard from many people that they get anxious when they don’t take their digital devices with them. Our culture of ‘always available’, ‘always switched on’ and ‘always responding’ means that you’re constantly in a state of reaction and responsiveness. It’s important to cultivate your ability to reflect before responding, to sit with how you feel about things before sharing, and to choose not to respond when appropriate for you. I believe this culture also affects your ability to be present in the moment- with yourself and your partner.
Experiment with going out with your partner and leaving your phone at home. It’s a truly liberating experience. You go to reach for your phone as a reflex to Google something, or make a reservation, or check-in on Facebook, and suddenly realize it’s not there. Now focus your attention back into the moment and what it’s like to be present with your partner. Notice the quality of your experience and how enjoyable it is to share the moment with your partner.
The digital revolution is here to stay, but it doesn’t mean your relationship has to deteriorate. Use the digital cleanse on a regular basis to take time-out from your online world and refocus, reconnect and reinvigorate your own relationship. It will pay dividends in the long run.