Ok, let's start with the facts; Cell phones are addictive. Every time you hear 'ping' - notification flash, ding and so many other sounds chirping from your phone, dopamine is being activated. When dopamine is activated so is the nucleus accumbens - the pleasure reward centre of the brain.
The nucleus accumbens is the part of the brain that activate most addictions including food, exercise, sex, alcoholism, drugs and so many other addictions. If you get what I am discussing up to this point and you feel it every day, you're likely obsessed and addicted to your phone.
Our phones can get in the way of our interpersonal, close and especially intimate relationships. Your deep intimate relationship is with your phone. It is your closest friend, occupying all of your thoughts and emotional urges.
Your need to be connected to your device, being plugged means that you are not plugged into your actual real life relationships. You are NOT in the MOMENT and present. Think about it - is Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok, Whatsapp or email more important than your real flesh and blood relationships? Virtual relationships do not replace real life relationships. You might not realize it, but your partner feels snubbed to your phone.
Here are the warning signs that you or your partner’s phone addiction is seriously impacting your relationship:
They completely ignore you to for phone (head is always down)
Completely zoned out and disengaged to the virtual world. You speak to your partner and often get non-responses, half responses, or ignored because they do not hear you due to their focus and connection to their phone
Oblivious to others
Others are noticing how glued you are to your phone, and even more, they are starting to make comments.
They are completely unaware, and see no issue with constantly checking snap chat, instagram, facebook, and twitter while trying to have conversations. What is even more interesting is that this obsessive urge to check in is not even part of their conscious awareness, they just automatically do it.
Defensive reactions when confronted
When you try to address their disengagement and phone obsession, you are met with defensiveness, overreactions, and even in some cases an underreaction such as no response nor apology.
Total separation anxiety
They sleep with their phone by their side, wake up to their phone, their last connection of the day is the phone and their first connection of the day is their phone. Then everything in-between bed and awaking is the constant checking. If the phone is ever lost, moved or even away from them, or being in an environment where they are not able to check, their anxious state elevates, becoming anxious and their nervous system is stressing out.
No awareness that "This might be a problem"
You have no insight that your relationship to your phone is a problem. You have no warning sign or internal alarms system that tells you, maybe I should be off my phone right now.
Heightened stress from Social Media and email
Having a constant need to respond to emails and feeling an inner sense of unhappiness.
Overall feeling of being rejected
Living with a partner who is more interested in their phone and plugged in life than YOU. You feel rejected, alone and unwanted leading to resenting your partner and the choices they are making
Your sex and intimacy life become detached
Going to be means checking the phone out instead of your partner. Once your finger starts to scroll, scrolling gains all of your attention, focus and pleasure. The addiction of your phone now has penetrated into your sex life
Your phone is your emotional avoidance to issues
You would rather hide in your phone that deal with the uncomfortableness of the emotions you feel in yourself or your partner
Finally - Your phone is the main cause of your argument and fights!
How to address your partners phone addiction issue
Set clear phone boundaries
Have phone free zones
Have phone free times
Make your bedroom a phone free environment
When out with your partner leave your phone at home or in the truck of your car
Set limits with your friends about your phone
Set unavailable auto reply for texting and emails when with your partner
Turn off your notifications and sounds
While at home - have a location designated for your all home phones and during cell phone free times, place all phones in the location of holding object
Be the example to model your needs openly to your partner and demonstrate this
Now that the phone boundaries are in place - and your partner is learning to disengage their cell phone - start to re engage human contact, intimacy and connection by hugging more, get physically closer to each other and demonstrate that YOU are a better dopamine release for them
Be open and honest with your feelings with your partner around their cell phone use and respect yourself by being clear and concise about your needs in the relationship.
Set accountabilities to monitor screen time
Develop new ways to connect such as walks, board games, meeting up with friends as a couple, or doing other new hobbies together.
If your partner does not respond - seriously consider therapy