What do I say to my live-in girlfriend who has a weird addiction to social media? She is obsessed with her phone and iPad. Checks them all the time for updates when out to dinner on a date, during a movie, even in church at her uncle’s funeral. I’m feeling there are three of us in this relationship?
–John, Los Angeles, CA
It is OK to be worried. 52% of fatal crashes are cellphone-related. This may seem like an addiction, but it isn’t one. It is social interaction. Your girlfriend conducts her social life via text.
Whether we like it or not, smartphones have become amazingly valuable as extensions of ourselves on an unconscious level. Glued to the palms of our hands, the phone has become the way we connect with the world and the people in it.
For better or for worse cellphones have become our voice when we wish to communicate. Not only have they become our brains for accessing instant information, but our memory for schedules and contact info, photos and videos that we record and store, etc.. Stuff that otherwise would not not have been recorded and saved.
Sometimes a cellphone seems to be more important than a romantic partner. Nonetheless, even when cellphones are nor being used, their mere presence divides attention, which is why banning them on dates would not make sense. She would still be wondering what she was missing.
The solution is to bargain for compromise. They are there, but you don’t use them while you’re having dinner, nor do they vibrate in bed. Talking about the problem will help you two sort this out. Watching a movie, give her the option to ignore the call or text or go in the other room to respond. Set up guidelines, just the way you do with figuring out housekeeping and who does what in the relationship.
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