So, you’re in a relationship. You love it when he wakes you up sweetly in the morning, but you hate him when he’s not picking up a Wi-Fi signal.
Oh, you thought we were talking about your actual significant other?
The problem is that both of you are cheating on each other with your smartphones. Even if you’re just perusing Facebook or scanning BuzzFeed’s latest list, you’re spending your time with the Internet and not with the person who you actually, physically love. Fortunately, there are easy ways to be more mindful of your smartphone use so that it doesn’t interfere with—or completely take over—your real-life human relationship.
1. Put It Away
The easiest way to avoid your phone’s distracting beeps and buzzes? Silence it and slip it into your pocket. Without notifications blaring, you’ll be way less inclined to pause your date to see what’s happening in the virtual world. (This is a great idea for your workplace productivity, too, if you want to get home earlier and spend more time with your BF or GF.)
2. Count the Hours You Spend Online
We promise you the answer will probably be depressing. You’re probably sitting in front of a computer for the vast majority of your day at the office, so why waste your free time—with the one you heart the most—doing the same thing? Tracking the minutes and hours you log online will be a real eye-opener and incentive to put your phone down.
3. Do Something Non-Digital
Even if your phones are away, you’re not going to be engaged with your significant other if you’re zoning out while watching Netflix. We know that’s an ideal date night after a long week at work, for example, but make a point to take an out-of-the-box date when you’re rested and reloaded. That way, you’ll have no choice but to engage with and enjoy each other’s company. Awwww.
4. Turn Off to Turn On
Okay, so maybe life has kept you at home or indoors, but you still want to have a connected, non-internet-connected date. It’ll be your job to turn off all of your technology together and find something fun to do at home. Maybe you’ll whip out an old board game or cook together or pour a few glasses of wine and just talk. In fact, we guarantee you’ll love this practice so much that you’ll want to do it once a week.
5. Remove Your Most Tempting Apps
What’s your biggest time-suck? Is it Facebook, or Instagram, or Candy Crush? If you’re having a hard time putting your phone down, then you might have to force yourself to get rid of the app so that you can get back to living your normal life.
6. Use Your Hands for Something Else
Whether its holding hands or cuddling, there are so many things that you can do instead of tapping your thumbs on a touchscreen. The power of touch is unreal, especially in relationships: It “plays a crucial role in generating and enhancing love,” according to Psychology Today. So, put your phone down and intertwine your fingers for a sweet little love fest.
7. Don’t Fill Every Gap with Tech
It’s our instinct to reach for our phones in downtime or moments of silence. Unfortunately, no matter how much you and your love have to say to one another, you’ll still have pauses in your conversation. That’s no excuse to go reaching for your phone. Instead, make it a point to sit tight through the pause and wait until your conversation picks back up. If you’re on your phone, you might be stalling it further. And remember, your continued presence is much appreciated and needed in situations like these.
Now, Back to Our Regularly Scheduled Programming
You didn’t get into your relationship so that you could waste away the hours together…on your phones. You had a connection with another human and built on that connection in order to create your relationship. So, it’s now your job to cultivate your love and keep it safe from all of the distractions that come from digital devices. In other words, put down the phone and give him or her a kiss: it’s time to fall in love with real life again.
Image: Nick Olejniczak, CC-BY
Anum Yoon is Paste’s Unplugged columnist and a Philly-based blogger who founded Current On Currency.