As is the case with most couples, my partner and I have always discussed insignificant things via text rather than waiting to see each other in person. We messaged each other pretty regularly when we weren’t together, but that all changed one day when I dropped my phone in the toilet and had to wait a week to get another one.
The first day was no big deal. After dropping my phone in the toilet that morning, we quickly realized that not only would it not turn on, but it also smelled like pee. Great. We spent the rest of the day going to different stores to see about getting a replacement but it was really no big deal since we were together. We were more concerned with figuring out where we should go out to eat.
I started getting really bored the next day. I never noticed how much time we actually spent on our smartphones until I suddenly didn’t have mine anymore. I made our breakfast the next morning because I was awake before my partner and didn’t know what to do with no phone to scroll down. I also cooked us lunch and dinner. There seemed to be so many more hours in the day and I didn’t know what to do with myself. I tried just chatting with my partner, but he still had his phone and spent most of his time on it. I went to bed early feeling a little disheartened.
There was nothing to eat for dinner. It was a Monday and I’d been without my phone since Saturday. I went off to work as normal and let everyone know that I wouldn’t have access to email or chats while not in the office, which was no big deal. However, the day got a lot suckier when I got home later than usual to a dark house with nothing to eat and no car to go out and get some groceries. Because I didn’t have my phone, I missed an email from my boyfriend asking me to stop for food since he was getting home late. I ordered us a pizza which was fine, but we were both pretty annoyed about the inconvenience.
I started to realize my boyfriend has control issues. I’d always known that my boyfriend was a bit insecure due to his previous partners cheating on him, but I never realized how often I would text him during the day to let him know who I was with, what I was doing, where I was, and other small things. Because I didn’t have my phone, he started asking me these questions in person. I got really annoyed and we both left feeling angry at each other. He even emailed me at work, which he never does, and I started to realize that something wasn’t right.
We started to fight. By Wednesday, I planned to talk to him about his weird issues with needing to be in touch all the time. Instead of being receptive, we got into a huge fight. He even accused me of throwing my phone in the toilet on purpose so that I could have an affair without getting caught. WTF?! I stopped talking to him and went to bed. We weren’t on speaking terms for the next 24 hours.
We eventually realized we couldn’t go on like that. We couldn’t just pretend nothing was wrong, so I again started the conversation. I told him that his control issues were getting out of hand and had been for a while—I just hadn’t seen it before now. We both talked about how we felt and it brought us closer to each other. We both agreed something had to change.
He joined me in stepping away from his phone. After our chat on Friday, we were both too tired to actually talk about our issue anymore, so we decided to go for a hike over the weekend. Walking and talking has always been one of our favorite ways to solve any problems we might have. We decided on a few important things: no more cellphones in the evening and during meals, and no more texting our whereabouts or other non-urgent things during the day. It would take him a while to get used to it, but we both felt it would help him work on his control issues. He also agreed to find a therapist to talk about his problems.
I felt free for once. The next day was amazing, not least because the phone company told me I’d have a phone again by Monday. I also hung out with some friends and although my boyfriend was worried and I could see that in his face, he didn’t interrogate me or give me a hard time about it before I left or even after I came home. I never realized his control issues were such a big deal in my life, but even my friends commented that I was so much more relaxed and fun to be around when I didn’t check my phone every 10 minutes.
I have a phone again, but I also have a better relationship. As agreed, when my boyfriend asks me questions about where I am or who I’m with, I don’t text back. If we’re bored, we look for something to do and don’t text; if we’re running late or need the other to pick up something from the grocery store, it’s fine to send a message. Mostly, we try to keep things to a minimum when texting. We’re much closer now and I feel so much happier. Best of all, when we come home, it’s easy to put down the phone and have a real conversation because we actually have things to talk about.
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