Constant cell phone usage is the norm these days. Unfortunately, it can negatively affect our real-life relationships, and that’s exactly what’s happening to me. My significant other is on his phone almost all the time and it’s seriously annoying.
He uses his phone as a stress reliever. My partner works up to 80 hours a week. When he gets home, he wants to relax. I get it—I know he needs something mindless to do to wind down after long days. His phone is a convenient distraction, which is fine, but I’m starting to think it’s more important to him than I am.
I’m on my phone a lot too so I kind of feel like a hypocrite. I’m not saying that I don’t use my phone too much because I probably do. Since I do the same thing sometimes, I feel bad for being annoyed by his usage. However, I don’t feel like I’m nearly as bad as he is. I’m capable of entertaining myself without my phone, a skill he seems to lack.
He takes it to another level. He literally can’t put the phone down. When we aren’t doing anything else, I don’t mind as much, but he’s on it even when I’m trying to have a serious conversation with him or when we’re on a date. When I’m trying to connect with him and he’s distracted by his phone, it’s extremely frustrating.
He totally ignores me most of the time. He cares more about scrolling through Instagram and watching stupid YouTube videos than he cares about reconnecting with me at the end of the day. We barely talk anymore. I feel like I don’t really know what’s going on in his life, and most of the time he doesn’t bother asking me about what’s going on with me either. Sometimes it makes me wish that smartphones didn’t exist.
It feels like a real addiction. He claims his cell phone habit isn’t an issue since he’s capable of putting it down if he has to, but the second he’s not doing anything else, that phone has to be in his hand. It’s definitely not normal. He doesn’t see the problem though and doesn’t take it seriously when I try to talk to him about it. I don’t think he’s hurting me on purpose but he just doesn’t see what’s happening.
It’s really starting to negatively affect our relationship. When I constantly have to ask him to put his phone away to talk to me, it makes me feel like he doesn’t value his time with me. It feels like he’s taking me for granted and I’m beginning to resent him for it. We’re not connecting like we used to and I’m afraid if it keeps going like this, we’re going to drift apart too much to be able to recover from it.
It’s called “technoference.” It’s become such a problem in our society today that researchers have given it a name. Technoference happens when technology interferes with our everyday lives and relationships. One study surveyed 143 women in serious relationships and found that those who reported a higher level of technoference also reported lower relationship satisfaction as well as lower overall life satisfaction. They also experienced more symptoms of depression. This provides some evidence of the toll too much phone use can take. So I’m not overreacting when I ask my partner to put his phone down.
I don’t know how to stop it. Rehab for cell phone addiction doesn’t exist so I’m struggling with how to handle the situation. Today’s world can’t function without smartphones, so it’s not like I can ask him to get rid of it. I’ve talked to him many times about making an effort to use it less but it’s hard to avoid picking up your phone when it’s always within reach so I understand that it’s not easy. Sometimes he gets better for a little while but eventually, he always goes back to the way he was before.
I’m starting small. The only thing I can do is keep talking to him about it and be happy with little improvements. For example, I suggested a no phones rule when we’re out on dates and he agreed that it’s a good idea. Hopefully he’ll realize how much fun we can have together without our phones and he’ll want to do it more often. Life can be enjoyable without screens too and I think he just needs to be reminded of that sometimes. Technology isn’t going anywhere, so we need to learn how to balance it better with our face-to-face interactions.