Has your smartphone become the third wheel in your relationship? Is the very thing that once brought you and your partner together now tearing you both apart?
It’s no secret that cellphone addiction is taking a toll on relationships today. According to relationship therapist and psychologist Nicole McCance, it’s a gripe she’s heard over and over again.
“Being on your phone all the time is one of the biggest complaints I hear from couples,” said McCance.
“‘We no longer make eye contact. It’s like we’re constantly distracted either with kids, with work, and then when we get home, we’re constantly staring at the screen.”
I sat down with three couples from different backgrounds and age groups—some married and some in long term relationships, to find out whether or not their cellphones have become virtual third wheels. Here’s part of that conversation:
“I use it for business, so that takes up a lot of my time.”
Cato said he’s noticed.
“There will be times where we’re just hanging out together and she’ll just be on her phone and I’m just kind of doing my own thing,” said Cato.
Forty-six-year-old Domenic Gagliardi can relate. He said when it comes to his wife, Claudia Machiella, and her cellphone, he feels like he’s competing for attention.
“She comes in from a long day at work and she’s on her cellphone, and sort of those days of just coming through and saying ‘How was your day? How are things?’ That’s just lost now,” said Gagliardi.
Forty-five-year-old Machiella admitted her cellphone has often crossed the proverbial line — right into the bedroom.
“You know, you kind of want to finish everything on your phone—send out that last email, that last text message, check out that last social media feed and then you deal with everything else,” said Machiella.
Rose Marie Pisano, 38, can also relate.
“It’s the last thing we look at, seriously, not even each other,” Pisano said, referring to her husband, Giuseppe Meleca, who’s 41.
So, what should couples do—before their relationship is completely broken? McCance has a few tips for those feeling the strain of phone attachment.
“One thing to do as soon as you get home is dock your phone off — if you really need to be on your phone because a work thing is going on, at least tell your partner, ‘Babe, I’ll be two minutes, I’m just speaking with my boss,’” said McCance.
“Try not to blame because they will become defensive, but share your feelings: ‘I feel lonely, I miss you, I feel like I’m not important to you’. They will listen to that—they will not listen to: ‘you’re always on your phone, you’re ignoring me.’ They’ll just be on their phone more.”