Couples reveal how electronics negatively affect relationships

By Zhang Yihua Source:Global Times Published: 2017/6/14 14:58:39

Electronic devices can seem like a "third party" in some relationships because some partners spend more time on them than with each other. Photo: Li Hao/GT

When Amanda Gao, a 26-year-old white-collar worker in Beijing, went to a hotpot restaurant with her boyfriend on a Friday night several weeks ago, she expected that they would have a good time together, but to her disappointment, it did not turn out that way.

As soon as she and her boyfriend were led to their seats and she began to order dishes, he buried himself in his mobile phone.

"He did not look up from his phone even after I finished ordering dishes, which made me unhappy and a little angry," she said. "It seemed that his phone was making its way between us. A date that should have belonged to us turned into one where my boyfriend dated a third party and I felt left out."

Some people, like Gao, have found that electronics have been sabotaging their romantic relationships.

A study published in the journal Psychology of Popular Media Culture in April 2016, asked nearly 200 college-aged adults who were in committed relationships to report on their and their partner's smartphone dependency. The results showed people who were more dependent on their phones were less sure about their relationships, and people who considered their partners excessively dependent on their devices were less satisfied in their relationship.

Lin Yuan, a relationship advisor in Beijing, noted that as more and more electronics come out and spice up people's lives, they are at the same time becoming a third party in relationships, especially for young people.

"When many young couples get off work and come home, they often busy themselves with electronic gadgets such as TVs, computers, iPads and cellphones, and do not have much time for real-life interactions with their partners," she said.

She said she knew of some people who suggest that electronics should be kept out of bedrooms, which she considered challenging and hard to be put into practice for most couples.

She recommended that if people are feeling neglected in their relationship, they need to respectfully let their partners know their feelings. "Communication is always the best and the most efficient way," she said.

She added that there are also some methods that people can employ to improve the quality of their time together. For example, if they find that their partners spend a lot of time on electronics instead of with them, they may propose to try "electronics-free time" with their partners on weekends or at breakfast and dinner.

"During electronics-free time, the couple is not allowed to spend time on electronics and should focus on the other person," she said.

Moreover, she advised that people can choose to let electronics take up their time when they are alone and pay more attention to their partners during time together. 

Gao noticed that her boyfriend would read news on his mobile phone every morning when they are having breakfast and also often before dinner and bed as well.

"Those periods of time would have been perfect for us to talk about our day," she said.

She conceded that she is a little jealous of her boyfriend's mobile phone. "He does not have to spend a lot of time on his phone, but he seems to have a psychological need for that device," she said. "I have gotten angry with him many times on this matter, but it was not very effective. Maybe it is time for me to give electronics-free time a try."

Newspaper headline: Are devices killing romance?


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