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Technology & Relationships: Connection or Distraction?

by | Feb 7, 2024 | RELATIONSHIPS

Technology and Relationships

In today’s rapidly evolving world, the pervasive influence of technology has seamlessly woven itself into the fabric of our lives, profoundly altering the dynamics of how we connect, communicate, and nurture our relationships. From romantic partners separated by distance to younger adults navigating the nuances of modern relationships, the effect of technology on relationships is evident.


While technology undoubtedly brings unprecedented convenience into our lives, it simultaneously presents a set of intricate challenges, notably in the realm of maintaining intimacy within our relationships. Finding a healthy balance between staying connected through technology and being present in relationships has become crucial. Read on to delve into the impacts of technology on intimacy and learn pragmatic strategies to cultivate deeper connections while adeptly maneuvering through the ever-present world of screens and constant notifications.


Can Technology Have a Negative Impact on Relationships?


Engaging in a largely screen-centric lifestyle might have its downsides. Studies indicate that excessive use of social media can elevate the likelihood of mental health challenges, including but not limited to depression, anxiety, and heightened stress levels.


While technology has bridged proximity gaps and modernized communication, technology also brings forth an array of challenges, particularly for the younger generation. More than half of U.S. teens say it would be difficult for them to give up social media. 36% say they spend too much time on social media.


Intimate relationships, in their intricacy, reflect the double edged sword of technology. While instant messaging, social media platforms, video calls, and constant communication keep relationships connected across distances, they can introduce confusion due to the absence of nonverbal cues as the validity of physical, face to face communication and the richness of body language cues often take a backseat when it comes to communicating through text.


Technology can be a potential distraction that can hinder intentional and authentic connection. The omnipresent allure of smartphones, the seductive pull of social media, and the constant digital noise can lead to feelings of disconnection, impeding the development of genuine intimacy.

How You Can Decrease Distractions


Fostering open and honest communication regarding the impact of technology on relationships is paramount. Delving into concerns, outlining expectations, and collaboratively finding solutions can be instrumental in navigating the complexity of the digital age. Below is a series of steps to adeptly tackle the challenges stemming from the overuse of technology, particularly within the context of romantic partnerships.

Open and Honest Communication


Engage in open and honest discussions with your partner about your relationship, addressing the influence of technology. Share your concerns, express your desires, and establish clear boundaries regarding technology use. By aligning expectations, you pave the way for a healthier balance between your digital interactions and real-life connections.


Designate Tech-Free Times/Zones


Carve out specific moments in your day when both you and your partner commit to setting aside digital devices to fully engage with each other. Allocate certain areas in your living space as sanctuaries away from screens, encouraging meaningful face-to-face interactions. For example, make the dining table a tech-free zone during meals, or establish an hour before bedtime where screens are put away. This allows you and your partner to be fully present without digital distractions.

Mindful Notifications


In the nuanced interplay between technology and authentic connection, consider tailoring your notification settings as a strategic move. By customizing alerts, you create a digital environment that respects the sanctity of crucial moments, allowing for connected and focused conversations. This deliberate adjustment not only prevents disruptive intrusions but also encourages a mindful and present approach to communication, mitigating the risk of using technology as a means to dissociate or numb emotions through endless scrolling. It’s a small but impactful step toward fostering a healthier relationship with technology and, by extension, with your own emotional landscape.


Engage in Offline Activities


Immerse yourselves in offline pursuits that underscore physical presence and active participation. This might involve activities like cooking together or venturing into nature for exploration. This intentional break from screens fosters a deeper, more authentic connection.


Practice Active Listening


Hone the art of active listening by shelving devices, maintaining eye contact, and dedicating genuine attention to your partner’s words. Active listening means giving your full attention, asking questions, and genuinely showing interest in what they are saying. This simple act can significantly enhance emotional intimacy.

Establish Technology-Free Rituals


Cultivate customs that inspire authentic connections, like sharing morning coffee or taking evening strolls together. Instead of being physically present while mentally distracted by screens, commit to spending shorter, undistracted periods where you are fully engaged with your partner. Use this time to engage in activities together that promote bonding, such as exploring local art galleries, attending live performances, playing board games, or taking a dance class together—such endeavors can promote shared experiences and deepen your connection and can be great ways to rejuvenate your connection.

The importance of presence in relationships


Being truly present means more than just physical proximity; it involves active engagement, genuine listening, and an authentic sharing of moments. In an era dominated by digital distractions, the significance of setting aside screens and fully immersing oneself in the present cannot be overstated. When partners prioritize presence, they create a space where understanding flourishes, communication deepens, and emotional bonds strengthen. It’s a conscious choice to be there, fully, in both joyous and challenging moments, fostering a connection that transcends the superficial and withstands the test of time.


In an era where virtual interactions often complement or even substitute for face-to-face encounters, understanding the nuances of technology’s influence on relationships is essential. While this can broaden the pool of potential matches and make dating more convenient, it also may pose a set of challenges.


Striking a balance between maintaining intimacy and navigating the world of technology requires conscious effort and communication. By implementing practical coping strategies and fostering mindful interactions, couples can reclaim meaningful moments of connection, nurturing deeper intimacy while navigating the digital landscape together. Remember that the key lies in using technology as a tool to enhance, rather than hinder, the quality of your relationship.

Modern Intimacy is a group therapy practice, founded by renowned Psychologist and Sex Therapist, Dr. Kate Balestrieri. This inclusive blog is designed to provide a wealth of information and resources for mental health, relationships, and sexuality. Subscribe today to get the latest information from our expert contributors from all around the world.


Author Bio

Elena Behar, LMFT earned her Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology from National University (NU) with a specialization in Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT). Elena is very passionate about working with individuals and couples who are looking to heal and grow, build a sense of meaning and purpose in their lives and reintegrate with their true selves.



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