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Love, Disconnection, and Technology

By: Kelly D'Souza

We live in an age where we sometimes find it easier and necessary to communicate using technology. It connects us with loved ones all over the globe. It also helps us sneak in a little appreciation and expression of love over a text or call with our partners during the day. We send pictures to our loved ones, check in on them, video call each other to soften the blow of distance. But, how many of us are guilty of being distracted and removed from interpersonal connections by the very same technology that is meant to connect us?


We could be sitting at the restaurant trying to have a meal together, but constantly checking the notifications that pop up. We could be living with our partner and still be so disconnected. There has been scientific evidence that confirms how phones inhibit closeness  in relationships. The very same technology that is supposed to bring us closer, is taking us away. Research suggests that the presence of a phone is a hindrance for intimacy in relationships (Przybylski & Weinstein, 2012). A study evaluated the extent of which mobile devices shape relation quality in dyadic settings. The experimental group participants (phone present condition) reported lesser feelings of closeness, relationship quality, feelings of trust and empathy than the control group participants (phone absent condition). The effect of having a phone present significantly affected the way the participants spoke about meaningful events in their life (Przybylski & Weinstein, 2012). 


Sometimes we might not even have the conscious awareness of the effect of the phone on our relationships. In another study, participants who had their phone present during a meal in the restaurant reported more boredom and less enjoyment than the participants who did not (Dwyer, Kushlev, & Dunn, 2018). 


These studies have an important message for us. We could turn off that phone, but as long as that phone is present, it’s going to have a negative effect on your relationship. We cannot always turn off that phone and keep it away. But let’s focus on being aware of this effect and make the effort to set out time for our partner/spouse in the absence of a phone. 


Don’t let that phone come in the way of your relationship!


References


Przybylski, A. K., & Weinstein, N. (2013). Can you connect with me now? How the presence of mobile communication technology influences face-to-face conversation quality Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 30, 237-246.


Dwyer, R. J., Kushlev, K., & Dunn, E. W. (2018). Smartphone use undermines enjoyment of face-to-face social interactions. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 78, 233-239.

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