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Modern technology seems to be both the best thing in the world and the absolute worst. You could meet your soulmate online, or liking the wrong person’s Instagram post could get you dumped. How do we navigate real human relationships when technology is a part of everything we do? Sex and relationship expert, Jessica O’Reilly has some tech rules that can help with cohesion and communication in your relationship (and maybe even make things a little steamier).

Keep the phone out of the bedroom

Literally. O’Reilly suggests not even having it on the same floor. Studies have shown that even having your phone in the room with you is a distraction. Leave it downstairs. Out of sight, out of mind.

The blue light emissions from our screens can also interfere with our sleep. Not only is sleep important to your health (duh), lack of sleep can have negative effects on your relationship. If you’re tired, you are more likely to fight with your partner, less likely to feel empathy and your libido even decreases. Leave the phone downstairs.

Make rules

Decide together what times it’s okay to be on the phone and when it’s not. Meals, in particular, are a time you don’t want anyone to be on their phone. This is especially important if you have kids. Lead by example and show them the value of family time and face-to-face interaction. Also establish a time at night when you’re going to stop replying to other people on your phone and be present with the people in the house. ‘Do not disturb’ is a great function for that.

You should agree on a different set of rules for when you go on vacation. Not only about when you’re allowed to check your phone, but how many and which photos you’re both okay with posting, and if headphones are allowed.

Think about how you’re making your partner feel

When you choose to look at your phone instead of pay attention to what you’re doing with your partner or family, the message you send is that whatever is on your phone is more important. Sure, getting an urgent email or text from another family member might take precedence at times. Cat pictures, however, shouldn’t.

Also think about the message you send when you’re on social media. It’s easy to feel a disconnect when it comes to apps like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Everyone is reduced to the same little square picture and your online relationship to all of them is equal. There’s no way to ‘super-follow’ your S.O. to prove they’re more important. Don’t fall into the trap of treating them like just another follower though. Think about how they feel when you like someone else’s photo. That’s not just one of your followers watching, that’s your partner. Act like it.

Share your passwords, but don’t use them

You shouldn’t really have anything to hide from your partner and you want to show them that. You also want to show that you trust them, so if you exchange passwords to your phones, don’t abuse that and check up on the other person’s messages.

Share passwords because you have nothing to hide, but only use them for emergencies.

Use your phones to flirt

Hey, who said phones can only have negative impacts on a relationship? Having a phone means you can communicate with your partner whenever, wherever. Flirt or sext with your partner when you’re not together. To keep these flirtations separate from the daily tasks of ‘can you pick up the kids from soccer,’ O’Reilly suggests an app like In The Mood. It’s like chatting on Tinder, but for couples in a relationship. Plus, it’s password-protected so if your kiddies use your phone, they won’t accidentally stumble across something they really shouldn’t see.

As long as you’re mindful of it, technology doesn’t have to be the bad guy in your relationship. Tech can be a good thing. Now shut off your screen and go have a conversation with someone you love.

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