I remember the days when, in order to call my high school boyfriend, I had to call his (shared) home landline and usually spoke to his parents before him. I loved his mom and would often talk to her for 20 minutes before talking to him, and our calls were strategically set up so that the line would be free with minimal interruptions from siblings and call waiting.
My, how the times have changed.
Now, technology has given us a myriad of ways to communicate with our significant others, and we certainly don’t talk to their parents beforehand anymore. While some advances have made life in relationships more efficient (shared calendars, Skype for long-distance relationships) or private (no more siblings who eavesdrop on your call from the upstairs landline), there have been some losses, as well.
Here are five tech habits that can actually hurt your relationship:
1. Being on your phone during a meal
How many people — or worse, families — do you see sitting next to each other in a restaurant and each one is engrossed in an electronic device, not speaking? I’ve lost count.
Being on the phone during a meal with your significant other sends a strong message: You don’t have my full attention. When we are in a relationship, that person gets our time and attention in a way that others may not. That’s what makes them a special and valued person in our lives. Show that value by putting the phone away.
2. Bragging and oversharing on social media
Many people you and I know have “the best” partner that ever walked the planet, according to Facebook. Yes, I’ve been guilty of this, too. Facebook can be just another way to “show the world” we are in a great relationship and our life is going so well. However, bragging and over-sharing about that relationship can annoy others. Worse, it can alienate us from our partner.
For example, when something big happens, is your immediate reaction to post it on Facebook or to call your partner and tell them the good news? If it’s the former, you might want to explore why your gut reaction is to go virtual first. If Facebook is the way your partner finds out about good things happening in your life, you risk distancing yourself and losing out on sharing some of your most exciting moments together.
3. Netflix nights
These are so tempting. And to be clear, Netflix nights are a needed oasis from the stress of life. However, if they become a regular activity, they can become damaging.
One of the purposes of dating is to get to know another person and to see how they respond to experiencing something in real life. While a good Netflix documentary can spur a great conversation, it’s important to make time to explore the world with your partner to get to know them better and learn new things about each other.
4. Losing the art of letter-writing
My dad was like Noah’s character from “The Notebook.” He wrote my mother a love letter nearly every day that he was stationed away in the Air Force. While these hundreds of letters are pretty mushy, I must admit, I’m enamored by them. I’m fascinated by who my parents were before becoming parents or spouses. Those letters are a family treasure.
In today’s world, technology risks losing the art of creating these beloved and timeless artifacts. Leave a paper trail, literally, for someone to look back on someday and to learn who you were.
5. Using poor grammar
In full disclosure, I was a high school English teacher. You can easily swoon me by using there, their and they’re correctly.
Texting has made our grammar and spelling atrocious, as we all know by now, but we can fight back. Use full sentences and good grammar when writing your partner. It shows that you are present in the communication and also lessens the chance that your tone will be misinterpreted over virtual space.
Originally published on June 13, 2017.