Have you ever been out and noticed a nearby couple sitting together and they’re both scrolling on their phones? Or even worse, one of them is watching the other while they’re fully engaged with their phone? Ugh! I used to see people doing that and shake my head, thinking, They’ve clearly run out of things to talk about. I’d hate to be them.
Then it happened to me.
Ever have your boo zone out on you in the middle of a sentence or unknowingly be MIA from the whole conversation? He’s ignoring you, who’s standing right in front of him, in favor of something or someone else ON HIS SCREEN. Now, that’s an ego blow. You may excuse it the first few times it happens, but after a while, that shit really starts to hurt!
First and foremost, I want to bring something to your attention. Smartphones are designed for maximum use. The software, features, and apps are meant to lure people into regularly using them because the more they’re utilized, the more profitable they become.
If your significant other happens to become a victim, I personally feel your pain. At one point, I had to fight for my husband’s attention during dinner, during television shows, and even during our wind-down time. So, you already know what came next. I began blaming myself.
I felt rejected by him, like whatever he chose to engage with on his phone was more important than what I had to offer him. I felt excluded like I was missing out on a huge part of his world. I felt like he didn’t feel the need to prioritize my needs or our time together.
It’s not you, boo.
This does not involve you. You’re a beautiful, amazing woman, Sis. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have been drawn to you in the first place. There’s a reason the two of you are together right now. You’ve shared a lot of good times, so don’t forget all the reasons that cause you to care enough to stick with him through this difficult phase. This has everything to do with how he’s avoiding dealing with his emotions, fears, and innermost feelings.
Simulated snubbing is real.
These ain’t ya mama’s relationship problems. This isn’t the same thing as daddy’s wandering eye or speaking too friendly to Sister Johnson at church. Your man is literally sitting right next to you, but he’s mentally checked out, miles away. This is because the constant use of his smartphone thwarts his ability to be present and to engage others around him.
Excessive cell phone use is a real issue for many people these days. Truth is, this shit is new and we’re all still trying to figure it out. Think about it, there are a lot of reasons to pick up your phone throughout the day. Everything’s on it. Our calendars, emails, banking information, texts, and, of course, social media. So how could we possibly have something to say if he wants to remain connected to the outside world?
If you need someone to validate your concerns, allow me. First, think of your interactions with him. If you always feel like he’s constantly having a conversation with you and his bros group text or his social media followers at the same time, he needs to put his damn phone AWAY.
If he’s reaching for his phone during meals or any other face-to-face conversations, he needs to put his damn phone AWAY.
If he even thinks about answering a call or text during physical intimacy, you need to lock that damn phone UP!
Point being, if he feels the need to check his phone incessantly, he may be having an impulse that he feels is out of his control. Make a mental note of any other compulsive behaviors he may have. If you notice a pattern, it’s time for a serious conversation. If you’ve spoken to him about his behavior before and he’s experiencing withdrawal, mood swings, or difficulty sustaining from phone use, it may be time to talk about therapy.
There’s a chance that one or more of his core needs aren’t being met. A deficient sense of belongingness, hence the need for always remaining connected to others via texting and social media. A lack of self-esteem pertaining to you, at work, his family, or other critical relationships. Feeling as though he lacks a meaningful existence, which may be evident in a lack of life goals or a recent failure or disappointment. Feeling a lack of control over his life or the outcome of his life due to a myriad of things.
So what can you do to help him become more present in your relationship?
Listen to Him
Like I said, I doubt this is intentional, nor that it has anything to do with you. He may not see what you see and is therefore unaware of the severity of this issue. Before going in on him yet another time about his phone use, I heavily suggest talking to him about what’s going in his life. He may be trying to avoid dealing with these issues because they feel too difficult or complicated to resolve. Once you help him define the underlying issue, you both can find a simple solution together. If it is a subconscious issue, be sensitive and take your time while trying to uncover it. He may need empathy and compassion while he works through it. Or he may need your support if he chooses to seek therapy.
Let Him in On How You’re Feeling
Now that you’ve discovered the cause of his behavior, consoled him, reassured him, and let him know that he has your full support, he’ll be more willing to listen. Take this opportunity to let him know exactly how you feel. This is your chance to explain how his behavior makes you feel. Paint a clear picture for him because he may be unaware of the effect his behavior’s had on you.
Schedule Phone-Free Intimate Time
Come to an agreement that you will each keep your phones out of sight (not just face down on the table) during meals, face-to-face interactions, and any other times of your choosing. You should especially adhere to this rule while having disagreements or difficult conversations that require your full attention. Picking up a phone during these volatile times can be perceived as dismissive, rude, or disrespectful. Remember to practice accountability by enforcing these times and gently calling him out if he slips to bring any mishaps to his attention.
Plan Screen-Free Activities
Volunteer to join him on his phone detox journey by planning some activities that focus on relationship building. Most importantly, you can work on restoring your emotional intimacy and feel closer than ever. A few suggestions are:
- Recreating your first date
- Going bowling
- Going to shoot pool
- Going for a hike
- Having a snowball fight
- Reading a relationship book together
- Walking on the beach
- Taking a cooking class
- Hosting a game night with other couples
- Going dancing
- Reading each other poetry
No matter what you chose to do, remember that conversation and spending quality time together is the goal. Spend some time remembering what drew you to each other in the first place.
Good luck, Sis.