Is your phone ruining your love life? Single, dating or married, the greatest competition to a satisfying relationship may be that little screen in your pocket.
I think everyone has had a Valentine’s Day that’s sucked. For some it was because it was a time of love unrequited. For others it was a time where you felt forced into expressing your feelings for someone you feel you’ve already sufficiently expressed your feelings for. Others still may remember a bad date or a breakup triggered by the pressure of the day.
For me a Valentine’s Day that always sticks out was one a few years ago when I had to travel to Canberra for work, and only one of us were put on the rental arrangement for the car. Unfortunately, that person got sick early and I was back in the hotel before 5:30pm with nothing to do and nowhere to go, on Valentine’s Day, thinking about this on again off again what are we doing again relationship I was in at the time. By myself in a hotel room in a city that doesn’t always have a lot to do once you’ve been there enough times. Magical.
It’s a day that always puts pressure on where you are. Single people feel their singleness, no matter how hard they may try to resist or belittle the day. Married people feel the pressure to love like they used to, or perhaps like they never have. Dating people feel the reality check brought on by comparison and commercialism on the day. I don’t think these things are really that bad. I think it’s actually good to have a day that puts pressure on what is often the most frustrating and often the most dismissed area in our lives. It can be a healthy thing to have a health check on your life choices.
And as I was thinking about Valentine’s this year, I was thinking about all the competitors and illusions we have in our lives that distract us from the love that’s right in front of us, or that could be right in front of us. Our image driven, always on, always connected society offers multiple tools for assisting us to live a better life, but many times we are allowing their improper use and unhealthy feedback to detract or destroy what we have, or what we could potentially have. So whether you’re single, dating, or married, I would like to submit to you the question:
Is your phone ruining your love life?
Married to your phone
Have you heard the expression, “married to your phone”? I think this is an adequate and accurate description of how many of us live our lives. Unfortunately, we become so married to our phone and the ideas we take in from it that we frustrate reality for the sake of our phone’s fantasy.
In 2015, Deloitte did a study on the number of times that people in the US looked at their phone and in their sample audience, it was 46 across all age groups. One study suggested the number was astronomically higher at 2617 average times a day. That one is probably more accurate because they installed software that doesn’t lie, unlike the first one which was a survey-based thing. Whatever the average number is, it’s a lot. And that’s just to use a phone.
Imagine if you touched someone’s heart 2617 times a day. Imagine if you could receive love from somebody 46 times a day. Imagine if every time you felt lonely or awkward and reached out for your phone, you could reach out to someone you love and love with wholeness instead. It’s what the human heart reaches out for, but instead we find a small plastic and glass device which is so often replacing or distracting us from the fullest potential of what we long for.
And as much as you might love your phone, your phone will never love you back.
I would like to put forward three illusions I have observed have destroyed or distracted us from the love we could have. I’m not saying burn or destroy your phone, but I am saying if you would rather have a loving relationship with a person than your screen, give it some thought.
The illusion of choice
Where does the modern man go to meet the ladies? Where does a woman go to see what sort of men there are? It used to be the community hall, the sporting team, the church or the bar, and now it’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Tinder. Or at least that’s the vibe.
When you’re single, the numbers of friends, followers, and numbers in your contacts fills you with a sense of overwhelming choice. It makes you feel like you could have anyone. Those numbers are pretty good, and hey, indeed they are.
But I always like to ask single people the real question that shows how much of a choice they really have: “Out of all the people you know, are there any people you would actually want to date?”
I find usually the answer is, “no, I don’t know anyone worthwhile”. And when you have 1400 Facebook friends, 900 Pinterest followers and 2000 numbers in your phone that you’ve somehow accumulated over time, that’s really saying something.
Perhaps we feel like we have more choice than we really have? Or perhaps we have so much choice that we fail to make one. Or perhaps the idea of so many people fills us with the possibility of perfection, when really no one we could ever find will really be that perfect.
If you’re spoken for, the illusion of choice can distract you from making a full commitment to the one you’re with. Time after time this seems to happen in our world today. But the saddest thing about this is we just make another “half choice”, only ever keeping it at a certain level.
We’ve got a way out. We don’t need to put our full trust or effort into it, because we’ve got other options. Or so we think.
I think our options are more limited than we realize. That should be a freeing thing, to be honest. Instead of allowing ourselves to be overwhelmed by the numbers in choice of significant other we have, maybe we should be realistic about the people we do have. And if we have chosen someone, we should fully choose them daily.
You never just choose a person once. When you’re driving your car to work, every single intersection you come across, you’re making a choice to continue in the pursuit of your arrival at work. So in your love life, at every single intersection, every turn, every moment, be sure to be fully choosing this man or this woman.
The illusion of connection
I really love a movie called Manny Lewis. It’s about a comedian who connects with thousand and thousands of people, but struggles to make close friends or to find love in his life.
If that isn’t the catch call of our time, I don’t know what is.
I think so many friendships and relationships appear more connected than they actually are. You like their posts, text them a thumbs up, keep that Messenger conversation open with stupid GIFs, and watch their life unfold before your eyes. But you haven’t spoken to them in years, you don’t stay in touch, you watch instead of participating, and your photo together is more important than your moment together.
You feel like you’re in, you feel like you’ve got substantial connection. But you don’t really, unless you’re truly acting on it and doing social media right.
I think in love this is even more the case. There’s a feeling or a sense of connection, an appearance, a look, but the effort isn’t always there to match. Hey, a lot of the times it is. I love seeing couples post great photos together or write each other nice little notes. It’s inspiring and beautiful…
…when it has substance.
I think a lot of people will have seen the Boyfriends/Husbands of Instagram. It’s a tribute to the men who go the extra mile to make sure their lady takes a brilliant photo for optimal likes. It can take hours to make sure the lighting is just right, the angles are on point, to really make everyone jealous or wish they were there. It’s kinda funny, but it’s also kinda sad that we put so much effort into appearance and not always as much effort into reality or substance in the relationship. PS. Guys are just as guilty on this one.
Do you want a great relationship? Or do you want to just look like you have one? Fortunately you can do both, but more effort has to be made into the substance and foundation of your relationship than it is into making sure everyone on your Snap knows how happy you are.
Imagine if you really were as happy as you try to make everyone think you are. It doesn’t have to be an illusion.
The illusion of what intimacy is supposed to look like
Arguably the biggest illusion on Valentine’s Day or any other day of the year is what love is supposed to look like. And what is it supposed to look like? How do you know if this guy or girl is worth dating? How do you know if your husband or wife really loves you?
Unfortunately, it’s the phone that’s usually telling us what our relationships are supposed to look like. They’re telling us what a boyfriend looks like physically, they’re showing us what the finished product in the married couple of 50 years looks like.
That’s a lot to compete with when you’re just starting out. Or just trying to start out. And I think often many a time that relationships don’t start it’s simply because there’s a picture or an image (read: an illusion) that we’ve gotten from someone’s Instagram or too many perfect Facebook posts or all those great Tinder and eHarmony stories that we fail to recognize the first step because we keep being hammered with the last.
Real intimacy is hard work. Whether couples have had a magical spark or not (usually not), you’ve got to roll up your sleeves and really work at combining your lives, hearts, and minds together. It’s a dance, and it’s absolutely brilliant when you’ve got it right. You have to deny yourself. You have to put the other person’s needs first at times. You have to learn what you’re feeling and find out how to express it. And it’s not a failed relationship just because it doesn’t look like the happy couple of the day in your News Feed or on that Insta story. It just takes work and continual commitment.
And I think there can be a lot of great resources we can get online and a lot of couples we can use as inspiration for doing love better. #CoupleGoals anyone? But I think so often we’re distracted by the illusion of how things should be that we miss how good things could be. Or even how good things are. Imagine if you had the best husband or wife possible. Hey, maybe you already do have the best husband or wife, but you’re so distracted by what you’ve learnt on your screens that reality can’t even compete.
This isn’t always social media. The latest 50 Shades movie is the big marquee movie for Valentine’s Day this year – what man can compete with abusive billionaire fantasy? What woman can compete with the porn site you visited this morning? What person can compete with the PG rated love story that portrays something you really want but looks nothing like a real person can attain?
Our screens are constantly broadcasting an array of images our way. We have to make sure that we don’t start to live in their fantasy, when reality can be so much better.
I wish for all of us that we can have relationships that are real, and full of real happiness. This Valentine’s Day (or whenever you may have been reading this), I hope you won’t settle for the illusions of what isn’t, and to have it distract you from the greatness and potential greatness of what is. Imagine if the most fulfilling love life imaginable was right in front of you, but you were so blinded by false imagery and expectation that you missed it.
I hope you wont have your phone ruining your love life. I hope this year your heart is fulfilled and full of the greatest love imaginable.
How about you? Do you reckon our phones ruin our love life? Can they make it better?