Relationship Experts Say Unplugging Saves Love

Last updated on : June 08 2019

Relationships in the 21st century are very different from relationships just a decade ago. With the steady influence of social media, smartphones, tablets, and other technology, connections are being stirred, tested, and challenged - and many of us left with having to pick up the pieces of a breakup.

Our relationships have taken on an entirely different form and language. Some of us understand and have learned to speak the modern style of love effortlessly while the rest of us stumble around a bit, struggling with our levels of self-esteem.

unplug from mobile 

With the constant influences of celebrity romances and relationship goal memes, the struggle is real for couples looking to have a loving and healthy relationship.

So we contacted some of the most critical relationship experts today for help tackling one of the toughest questions couples face.

We asked them one simple question -

"How do you have a healthy, balanced, and loving relationship in a digital world full of noise?"

Our experts share just how to navigate the waters of unreal expectations and how to set personal relationship goals for you and your love.

Whether you are in a relationship, single, or somewhere in between this advice is well rounded, straightforward, and honest - and is well worth giving it a try. 

“In relationships, you want to grow together, so you don’t grow apart. When it comes to technology, you want to disconnect digitally to connect personally. Spend less time touching your smartphone and more time touching your partner, and check the status of your relationship rather than the status of your social media feed. Ultimately, you want to spend more time recharging your relationship, rather than your phone. Becoming close is important. To achieve a greater ‘we’ you need to spend less time focusing on ‘me.’ Spend time actively trying to make each other better. All love isn’t equal. For the best relationships, build them on companionate love or how you typically feel about a best friend. Treat each day like it's your last with your partner. View you and your relationship through your partner's eyes - and wish your partner does the same. Everyone deserves a great relationship. Get busy loving or get busy leaving.”

The Relationship Scientists from Science Of Relationships 

“Turn off your electronics for better intimacy. It’s too easy to break the spell when a text comes in. When your eyes meet, and that spark ignites, magic happens — until the phone rings, and you feel the need to check the caller ID. This distraction is how romance fails! If you’re in a relationship, keep “date night" going and turn off the electronics during those dates — and definitely during sex! And if you’re not in a relationship, but are dating, turn off the phone while you’re out. If the call can’t wait, and you can’t date without having it by your side like a chaperone, maybe you should re-prioritize what’s important in your life balance.”

April Masini, Relationship Expert

relationship experts

“I think one of the key things to remember in any relationship is that you're never going to get it perfectly right. Personally, the idea of a healthy, balanced, and loving relationship sounds like an impossible dream. Fighting, messing around, getting told off for spending too long on Twitter: all of these are things that sit neatly in my relationships. The key is to be open with communication - let your partner know when you want to spend more time with them, and make it easy for them to come forward and say 'hey, you're a knob right now - how about some affection?' Openness and honesty are essential. And occasionally turning your phones off while you watch porn together. Maybe that last one's just me.”

Girl on the Net, Relationship and Sex Blogger  

"The question implies that “the noise of a digital world” has any bearing on the success of a relationship. Maybe if you post your entire life on Instagram, send Snapchat videos daily, and only communicate via text. But that’s the point. The way to have a healthy, balanced, and loving relationship is NOT to have it mediated by the digital world. It’s not monitoring each others’ Facebook, and Twitter feeds. It’s not posting private information on Instagram. It’s face-to-face conversations. It’s long late night phone calls when you can’t be together.  It’s vowing never to have a meaningful relationship discussion by text message. It realizes that while these mediums are fun, they are also the death of regular, healthy communication that keeps relationships secure. These concerns don’t mean you don’t use them; it means that they have their place and that your relationship exists entirely outside of them."

Evan Marc Katz, Author and Dating Coach for Women

“The most important thing is to keep the focus on the two of you and how you feel about each other. Everything shared with the rest of the world is an extension of what you share. That keeps it real and meaningful between the two of you because it's about you as a couple, not about presenting a face to the world. It's about making each other feel special.”

Dr. Jane Greer, New York-based relationship expert and author of What About Me? Stop Selfishness From Ruining Your Relationship 

“It's easy to get lost in the cacophony of information input from all of our devices and tv, what we often overlook is that there's this genuine person next to us, perhaps also lost, who craves our attention as much as we crave theirs. It's so essential to turn off notifications and set that phone face down. Or better yet, leave it in your coat pocket. Don't worry; it'll be there when you get back. Expectations, shoulds, these are the worst things to keep around in your lives. We often will follow the script in front of us, and because of that we only see a small portion of the potential in the world around us. Straying from the path, forgetting about what you should be doing, when you should be dating, getting married, having children; moving at your own pace is the only way to be free truly."

Cooper S. Beckett, Host  and Founder of Life on the Swingset, Author of A Life Less Monogamous and My Life on the Swingset: Adventures in Swinging & Polyamory

unplug for love

“The tactics for achieving a healthy connection in a digital world are obvious: Email less and talk face-to-face more; turn off the television during dinner and ask one question beyond, ‘How was your day?’ And crave the human touch more than the satisfaction of receiving a text message.”

Alex Blackwell, Founder of The BridgeMaker 

"The best advice I have is to refrain from using social media to promote your relationship and avoid evaluating other people's relationships based on their social media activity. It's important to remember that digital relationship updates are heavily curated. I've seen couples go from looking blissfully happy to break up within a few days. Because no one is going to post information about failing relationships, they maintain the fiction until the relationship ends officially. You know that healthy relationship expectations exist when you feel secure and content in your relationship. Don't allow outsiders to introduce doubt or make you feel as if your relationship is not as "fun and fabulous" as someone else's. Your sense of well-being in a relationship is the only measure that matters."

Susan Walsh, Blogger, Hooking Up Smart 

“2 words: Unplugged and Intentional. If you want to have a healthy relationship, you have to be committed to being intentional with your love. You cannot make digital noise more important than your love. People know when they are not valued. People know when they are not a priority. The healthiest relationships are those in which the phone doesn't come out on every date, and the phones/iPads and other electronics are not even in the bedroom. Being unplugged allows you to be fully present with your love. Your attention is the biggest gift that you can give the person that you love. You need to be aware that so much of what you see is just eye candy. No one puts their bad days or arguments up on social media. As a society, we only post the good stuff. You need to connect with other couples who will be real and transparent with you. Many couples don't have great role models, so you need to go out and find mentor couples who can come alongside you and share what's real. Find resources through podcasts, webinars, or books that are talking about all aspects of relationships, not just the "good stuff." 

Tony & Alisa DiLorenzo, ONE Extraordinary Marriage

“It’s a simple answer—and one that won’t win me any popularity contests—but it’s a choice. Yes, we live in a digital world—but all things digital have an OFF button. (Hopefully) You wouldn’t drag your TV to a restaurant so you could watch Real Housewives during your dinner date, so why are you checking your phone every five minutes? The living, breathing people in your actual presence deserves your attention before anything on a screen, period. I’m not a sappy person (ask anyone!) but there’s a story—fine, it’s a parable—that I love. Here’s the short version: A little boy asks his grandpa why there’s so much bad in the world. The grandpa explains that two wolves live inside each of us; one is all kinds of evil, the other is pure good… and they are fighting nonstop. The boy wants to know which one will win. The wise old grandpa replies, “The one you feed.” Okay, it’s a random story, but I think the moral is relevant to this question. Whatever you feed will grow. Are you feeding your relationships with the people most important to you, or are you feeding your addiction to electronics or your need to be connected to a world of people you only know peripherally and may or may not even like?  When you look at it that way, I think it’s pretty easy to power off.”

Jenna McCarthy, Relationship Blogger at Jenna McCarthy  

“To avoid having your relationship sucked dry by the ever-present intrusion of electronics in your life, make sure to schedule 'attend time' with your partner.  During 'attend time,' you intentionally focus on each other and how much you care.  Schedule it - or everything else in your lives will crowd it out!” 

Melissa Orlov, Author, The ADHD Effect on Marriage

“Simple. You don't. It's important to shut down, walk away, and plug into life with your partner whenever possible without the distractions of a digital world. There are so many ways to do this that we almost forget how easy it is. Going for a long walk, exploring local restaurants, and even cooking together are great ways to reconnect!” 

Charlotte, Relationship Blogger at  My Pixie Blog

sex and social media

"What makes [a relationship] work is mutual trust, respect, attachment, good communication, empathy, the ability to self-reflect and grow, consideration, and the desire to support each other in being true to who you are."

Danielle Harel, Ph.D., and Celeste Hirschman, M.A., Co-Creators of the Somatica Method of Sex and Relationship Coaching 

“If you want to turn on your love life, TURN OFF your devices for at least 20 minutes a day. And have non-digital face-time with your partner.  From now on, vow to have face-to-face emotional communications. Look into your partner's eyes, and speak the words that your heart begs you to share.” 

Dr. Jamie Turndorf (aka Dr. Love), Founder of Ask Dr. Love, Author of the best selling Hay House book, Love Never Dies: How to Reconnect and Make Peace with the Deceased 

“Persons in relationships must understand that their worth is guaranteed and not based on what others think or depict.  When persons in a relationship connect their worth to other’s expectations, they give away their power as they become controlled by the ever-changing winds of public opinion.”

Jay Krunszyinsky, Author, and President of Relationships Unlimited, LLC 

"A good marriage requires intentionality. So many distractions compete for our attention, and even internet voices aimed at helping relationships create wrongful expectations. It's fine to seek out quality resources and apply the wisdom you find, but be careful about making comparisons. You can easily get on a treadmill of thinking others are enjoying something you're missing out on so that you forget to treasure the husband or wife in your marriage. Be intentional about taking stock of what's so fabulous about your spouse. You remember why you married him or her, right? Make positive thinking about your spouse an ongoing habit. It's like the saying that the grass isn't greener on the other side of the fence—it's greener where you water it." 

J. Parker, Marriage Blogger, Hot, Holy & Humorous

relationships & social media

“Emotional intimacy is what creates dynamic and loving relationships. Vulnerability is the only route to intimacy, so learning to tune into the emotional world of your partner and provide empathy and nurturing for feelings will create bonding and attachment that will endure the test of time.”

Karyl McBride, Ph.D., LMFT, Author of Will I Ever Be Good Enough? Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers and Will I Ever Be Free of You? How to Navigate a High-Conflict Divorce from a Narcissist and Heal Your Family 

“To have a healthy, balanced and loving marriage with all the noise of the digital world you must be as intentional in pursuing your spouse now as you were before you got married. Go on regular dates, leave your smartphone in the car and talk to each other without interruption. Whoever needs you can wait until you've had time to connect with the most important person in your life. This is the secret to maintain a marriage that will last.”

Debi Walter, Relationship Blogger at The Romantic Vineyard

“Water the plant of your relationship! Make the time and take the time for the couple, never take it for granted. Live by Dr. Ruskin's 3threelegs of marriage rule: 1) emotional intimacy, 2) physical intimacy, and 3) sexual intimacy, with the stool top of communication and trust. Put your equipment down and pay attention to your mate and your couplehood.”

Dr. Karen Ruskin, PsyD, LMFT, Psychotherapist and Relationship Expert, Marriage and Family Therapist, Author of Dr. Karen's Marriage Manual

"Recognizing that a love relationship requires each partner to bring their most loving, curious, patient, intelligent, mindfully focused and erotically awake self to continually feed that relationship after the honeymoon phase is over, is romantic love's most exquisite challenge. Knowing how to unplug daily for some period of time from external less meaningful distractions whether digital or live to increase one's focus on the most positive facets of your self and your  partner takes discipline and practice but can result in closer bonding, increased erotic tension, and sexual adventures beyond which you'd ever dreamed." 

Sari Cooper, LCSW, AASECT Certified Sex Therapist, Individual and Couples Therapist, Sex Coach, Host of Sex Esteem®

"It's important that couples devote time to each other each day without distractions. Long distance relationships rely heavily on technology. Phones and computers make it easy to multitask which, unfortunately, make it too easy to become distracted. The next time you are chatting with your partner avoid the urge to check your Facebook news feed. Remember, the greatest gift you can give someone is your time. It's great to have relationship aspirations, but don't be hard on yourself or your partner if you're not perfect. No couple is perfect. Look at the real relationships around you; the good and the bad - strive for the good things and work to avoid the bad things."

Michelle, Relationship Blogger at Loving From A Distance

"Interactive digital media is now on the short list of established sex blockers -- along with children, dogs, TV, and over-eating. Some couples use interactive media as a turn-on, most often by texting. Texting is just frustrating enough to be erotic. So is seeing those little dots when your partner is still writing you but hasn't hit send yet.   But at the end of the day, you'll still need to create an erotic space in bed for yourselves, which can be more challenging since we're all so distracted.  I often suggest that couples take a few moments in bed together just doing nothing, before jumping into foreplay. That can help put you in a more mindful state." 

Stephen Snyder, MD, New York City sex therapist 

"Everyone is glued to their smartphones too much of the time – that’s just the way real life is these days. You can use the digital world to your advantage with your smartphone and your feet. If you find yourselves sitting there, communicating with other people far away and ignoring each other, send your love a sexy text or IM flirtatious emoji. Back up your flirting with some serious footsie or even a hand on the thigh to initiate some physical contact. Digital flirting and physical affection can help you connect media to your real-world setting, bringing your attention back to each other. I am not saying that you need to crawl all over each other, but that expressing affection reinforces connection and adds depth to digital flirting."

Elisabeth Sheff, Speaker, Expert Witness, Relationship Coach, Author of The Polyamorists Next Door and Stories from the Polycule, Blogger for Psychology Today and How Do I Date

To answer your question, I believe communication with one another is vital. We can use technology to our favor. For instance, texting each other beautiful messages, skyping one another just because you want to see that beautiful smile from your significant other. With the digital world continuing to increase, use it to your advantage and communicate more!"

Marckens P, seriously-maybe.com

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