Can You Go Phone-free On A Date?

The shocking results of a 2013 study show that people use smartphones just about everywhere, even in the most compromising situations: 9% of the people check their phones while having sex and 12% while in the shower!

Cellphones are definitely cramping our love life. They have altered our dating behaviour, communication and expectations of a romance. The times when people interacting with their phones more than their date are here.

Imagine a scenario where you have met up with someone who has the potential to be significant in your life. You sit down to a coffee or a meal together, laughing, chatting, trying to find out if you can get along nicely, and can hang out together more often. But then you also start, as usual, catching up on the news on your cell, checking e-mails, taking selfies and showing off photos, or even taking a call or two in the middle of this date! Would it still be a fun date, which you would like to replicate often?

While mobile phones boost interpersonal connections by allowing people to stay in touch constantly, they can also be the biggest hurdles in your romantic life. A set of studies by Andrew K. Przybylski and Netta Weinstein of the University of Essex, published in the ‘Journal of Social and Personal Relationships’ show that our phones can hurt our close relationships. In fact, simply having a phone nearby, without even checking it, can be detrimental to our attempts at interpersonal connection.

It’s a fact that cellphones eat into our attention. The activities associated with it, like checking and sending text messages, looking at Facebook, WhatsApp and more, checking your email, surfing the web etc can intrude into our time with another person who we are supposed to spend time with. We end up giving far less attention to this new person. If we’re in the middle of a conversation and answer our phone, the person we’re talking with feels rejected. It seems as if the distant caller is more important that the person sitting in front of us. Says Sherry Turkle, in the book ‘Alone Together, Why We Expect More From Each Other’, “Cell phones remind people of a wider network that they can connect with, affecting their ability to connect with the people right in front of them.” Here’s what you can do on a date to help foster closeness, connectedness and interpersonal trust:

Try to meet phone-free. If that’s not possible, switch off your phone and put it in your pocket or bag in front of your date. That will tell them that the time, which you are sharing with them, is important to you.

Resist the urge to check your phone. Don’t check your phone on a date. Even if your date goes to the washroom, for example, and you have a few minutes by yourself, don’t give in to the urge to check your phone. Think of things to talk about when they return or simply go over the way things are moving.

Inculcate phone discipline. Create phone-free zones in your life. Restrict the use of smartphones at different times of the day and follow this with discipline. Avoid phones from the dinner table and bedrooms and insist they’re turned off after a certain time at night. This will help you curb your fear of ‘missing out’ on invitations, breaking news or latest gossip. Accepting this can be liberating and help you focus on your social and romantic relationships.

Seek help. If you suffer from cellphone separation anxiety and your digital obsession is weakening your relationships, disappointing and driving people away, you need to seek professional help to learn to be mindful of the present and help you cherish special moments in your life.

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