How Digital Distraction Might Be Driving You And Your Partner Apart

Many of us readily embrace the “kids these days” reaction when it comes to technology. But it’s not just millennials who seem attached to their devices. Digital distraction is a growing reality among older adults, too. It’s not just obvious concerns like texting while driving. I’m talking about the negative impact our high-tech culture can have on our relationships.

The Distracted Life

Research shows how the mere presence of a visible cell phone in the room changes the overall vibe. Even if no one checks the phone, it’s been proven to reduce intimacy and empathy during face-to-face conversations. Put simply, the lure of mobile devices draws us away from the present moment. We’re simply no longer paying attention. As a result, our personal relationships are paying the price.

How Digital Distraction Can Drive You and Your Partner Apart

  • Takes us away from the present

As I mentioned, this is the most obvious outcome. How can anyone be in the moment if they are texting or scrolling their news feed (or both)? The cyber-world distracts by design.

  • Impacts our sleep patterns

Studies have found a negative connection between digital usage and quality of sleep. If one partner’s sleep patterns are erratic, both of you will suffer. Lack of sleep is a slippery slope towards disagreement and arguments.

  • Pornography addiction

At any age, this is a potential trap. Pornography is everywhere and it’s easily accessible. Increasingly, porn addiction and related issues have been driving wedges between relationship partners. From unrealistic expectations to sexual dysfunction, internet porn has the power to alter your connection in a major way.

  • Creates emotional health issues

The anxiety caused by being attached to our devices changes our mindset. As a result, we may snap at our partners. As with sleep issues, this can escalate quickly. If one of you was having problems with eating issues, substance abuse, or any unhealthy choice, you’d address it. Digital distraction is no different. It deserves the same urgency.

  • Social media

Of course, compulsively posting on and checking social media is a big issue for anyone. But, in terms of relationships, it adds a new layer of conflict and distraction. Questions arise like, “What did he mean by that comment?” “Who is that man always commenting on her page?” or “Why hasn’t my partner liked my status yet?”

3 Ways to Address Digital Distraction

1. Communicate (face to face) about it

Begin with a real conversation. Turn off your phones and make time to talk. Air out concerns. Commit to finding solutions. Do all this while in the same room. Merely making this happen will remind you of the joys of face to face interactions.

2. Create rules as a couple

The only way this can be addressed is if you work as a team. It’s not far fetched to write out and sign a digital contract. No one says you must fully give up your devices. But setting boundaries and creating rules is a step towards peace.

3. Use it to your advantage

Since it’s impossible to eliminate technology, you can learn to harness it. There are times when a sexy text (sext) is just what your partner needs. When you lay out your rules, take this into account. Create exceptions. Allow for some spontaneity.

For those of us who grew up in a low-tech world, everything has changed in a hurry. Managing all this might be more than we can handle alone. Couples counseling is an ideal avenue for addressing issues like communication and digital distraction. It’s also a powerful way to practice effective interaction in a tech-free environment.