Technoference: Is Technology Ruining Your Relationship?

Is there anything worse than someone scrolling through Instagram in the middle of a conversation? We all feel the negative effects of excessive technology use and screen time. With social media, messaging, the news, and there being an app for everything, screens feel like they’re slowly taking over our lives.

Research has shown time and again the many ways in which technology is bad for our mental health, but is it affecting our personal lives, too? How does technology affect our relationships?

Here’s everything you need to know about “technoference,” how social media affects relationships, and tips on how to overcome the power of your phone.

Couple in bed at night on smartphones

What is Technoference?

Technoference is a newly coined term that is short for “technology-based interference.” It refers to behaviors that involve neglecting the people around you and giving attention to your phone instead. Sound familiar?

An associated term is “phubbing,” short for “phone snubbing,” in other words. Snubbing those around you because you’re on your phone too much.

Unsurprisingly, technoference can affect romantic relationships, friendships, family relationships, and work performance.

During the pandemic, technoference increased exponentially because our devices became the only way to communicate with our loved ones and connect with the world outside our homes.

It’s easy for excessive phone use to go unnoticed. Many of us become addicted to the feeling of connection our devices give us and feel like we have to reply to messages immediately or regularly check our news apps to avoid missing headlines.

Social media icons on phone screen

These behaviors become habitual and sometimes, hours of phone use can pass by without us realizing it. This can be why many couples complain about spending lots of time together but still drifting apart or lacking intimacy and quality time. This is one of the many ways social media affects relationships.

How does technoference affect relationships?

How do you feel when you’re partner is on their phone while you’re on a dinner date? Irritated that they aren’t respecting your time together? Rejected because their phone is more engaging than you? Jealous of the attention they are putting elsewhere?

These are some of the ways technology can incite and prolong negative feelings, tensions, insecurities, arguments, and ultimately strain and weaken relationships.

How does technology affect relationships? Technology use can weaken emotional and physical connections simply because it replaces time when you and your partner could be having meaningful conversations, flirting, laughing, and building desire.

Relationships are strengthened by positive reciprocity. In other words, giving each other an equal amount of time, care, and attention. Virtual connections can of course have value, but they shouldn’t come at the detriment of real-life relationships.

Couple in bed facing away using smart phones

5 Ways to Beat Technoference in Your Relationship

1. Have a technology-free bedroom

Leave your phone outside your room when you go to bed or even when you head to the bedroom to chill, spend time together, or be physically intimate.

Even better, make a rule to avoid screens entirely after 8 or 9 pm. Not only will you talk to each other more, but you’ll also sleep better!

2. Set aside quality time - and don’t check your phone during

You can’t go wrong with date night! Quality time means special evenings out, meal times, watching a movie, or any activity you decide to do together.

Also, try not to check your phone when you’re seeing each other again after some apart (like when you get in from work) because these are important moments for reconnection.

3. Talk about what you’re doing

Technoference can easily lead to insecurity and a lack of trust. You could wonder why your partner is smiling at their phone or engaged in something on their laptop when you’re trying to get their attention.

Couple looking at each other in kitchen wrapped in blanket

Solve these tense moments by asking your partner to share what’s making them laugh because you’re feeling a little left out or by showing your partner the interesting things on your device.

4. Use technology to your advantage

How does technology affect relationships? It isn’t all bad. It enables you to connect with people far away (like with cybersex!), but it can also give you the chance to connect in different ways with your IRL partner.

Try watching a new and interesting show together (not separately), playing a game together, having phone sex, sexting, reading articles at the same time and discussing them, or getting involved in online communities you’re both interested in. A kinky one, perhaps?

5. Try activities that get you away from devices altogether

If you think you’re a bit addicted to your phone and worried about how social media affects your relationship, it’s beneficial to get away from it altogether. Part of the reason many of us are screen-obsessed is that we’re stuck in passive leisure habits that keep us on the couch instead of out in the world.

There’s nothing wrong with taking it easy at home, but getting outside and trying new activities can greatly benefit your well-being and relationship. In fact, new research shows that doing new activities with your partner is an effective way to encourage long-term desire. There are loads of active date ideas to try: hiking, climbing, bowling, day-tripping, swimming, shibari… or just going for a walk in your local pretty neighborhood.

Couple smiling near surfboard in water

How does technology affect relationships? In many ways, negatively. But it’s never too late to turn it around! Making small changes to how you use your devices daily can make a big difference to your relationship, and help you discover the positive potential of your devices.