It was last Wednesday, 8.47pm.
I know this because I was texting a friend to confirm our dinner plans for the next evening – whilst my boyfriend was trying to tell me about his day. I was nodding to acknowledge I was listening but by the time I had put down my phone, everything he’d said to me was a blur. I may have the memory of a goldfish but I was definitely not present in that conversation. So much of our day goes by like that, where we’re half listening into conversations, half heartedly participating in meetings, spending ‘quality time’ with our partners while trying to keep up with what’s trending in social media. When was the last time you were present? We’re inundated with content and distractions 24/7, sometimes the best thing for a relationship is to disconnect to reconnect. It’s the one thing that will improve any relationship.
Quitting technology cold turkey can be a tough thing. I recently read that the average person checks their phone every 6 minutes…that’s about 150 times a day. You don’t need to quit your smartphones completely but the following could help you wean off it to better your relationship.
- Set No Phone Zones
If you have friends and family overseas, your phone will always be buzzing with what’s app chats, emails, social media notifications. That incessant beeping can tempt anyone into checking their phone at every beep even if you’re on a hot date. I’ve made it a rule to put the phone away during dinner time and to keep the phone out of the bedroom. It’s easier to be present and engaging without the beeping distractions.
2. Don’t Text and Talk
I have a friend who is a terrific multi-tasker. She can stream TV shows all day at work and get work done at the same time. She can also hold a conversation and text. Sounds ideal right? Not to the person she’s talking to. Though she can answer my questions, the responses are always delayed and because she’s texting, I never feel like I have 100% of her attention. I’m not sure when we started accepting this as a social norm but it’s rude. Now when someone is trying to text and talk at the same time, I wait until they’re done texting.
3. The 5 Text Rule
How many times have you had a miscommunication with someone over text? You can use all the emojis you want but sometimes tone can easily be misinterpreted…especially if the text conversation is a brewing argument. If it takes 5 texts to explain your side of the story, pick up the phone. Some may find it confronting but doing it will save you so much time.
4. Turn Off the Noise
There was a time where I’d need background noise to do anything. I could not sit still without a TV show, a movie or music playing in the background. In hindsight, I just needed the distraction and distraction is what’s getting in the way of relationships. Tune out the noise and be still. Be comfortable in your own company, your own thoughts. The key to a great relationship is to have a good relationship with yourself first.
5. Pay Attention to What You’re Saying
How many times did you tell your partner you loved them today? How many times did you say it out of habit? When you get stuck into a routine, it’s easy to go into relationship auto-pilot, taking your relationship for granted. The next time you say ‘I love you’, pay attention to the words you’re using. Be mindful of what you’re saying.
Photo Credit: Thom at Unsplash