The Digital Assault on Intimacy

Recognize when it’s time to say, iluv u… but pls put dwn ur fone! ;-)

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When we’re i-devicing, we miss out on what people sometimes refer to as the "full catastrophe of life." The more connected we are to our machines, the more disconnected we are to the people in our lives. There’s no way around this fact.

We know from decades of research that the concept of perceived partner responsiveness (PPR) is a key—if not the key—ingredient in intimacy. PPR refers to the idea that you think your partner gets what you have to say, understands how you feel, knows your needs and is available to respond to you when you need support.

So many things in life can interfere with PPR. If you text when he’s talking, update Facebook during sex (I’ve heard about it!) or just plain read ESPN.com at the dinner table, you’re dealing death blows to your relationship by destroying the PPR.

Technology affords us many, many ways to be distracted and disengaged. Every time Pete fails to see Debbie in her negligee because of his iPad, he makes a massive withdrawal from her PPR account. At some point, there’s not enough currency to sustain the relationship.

MORE: Digital Rules for Relationships

If you want to find out whether or not technology is making an impact on your relationship, try the following things:

  • Easy: No technology where and when you eat with your partner. At home, or when you go out to eat. Just talk.
  • Harder: No technology aside from e-readers in the bedroom. You can read on your devices, but no email, texting, Twitter or Facebook in the bedroom. Can you do that?
  • Hardest: Technology-free weekends, or a digital Sabbath. More time connecting to real people, less time doing it with an electronic intermediary. Don’t text, call. Don’t call, go for a walk or run together. You get the idea.

Please feel free to use the comment section to share your own feelings about and experiences with technology and your love life. Can you relate to what I’ve said above? Do you have personal examples to share? Think of this as our chance to use technology to help solve the problems it causes.

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