Is Modern Technology killing Intimacy in your Relationship?
Partner Phubbing and Intimacy
Is your partner on their phone again, phubbing you? According to this study, partner phubbing is associated with lower marital satisfaction and contributed to greater feelings of depression.
Let’s face it, our phones are our best friends. Today, an average person touches their phone 2,617 per day (~ every 30 seconds).
Because of the ubiquity of devices in close proximity, the outside world is ever present even when we are at home and with our loved ones, which can lead to a lack of intimacy. There is a tendency to seek distractions and avoid intimacy by switching on the TV, or leaving it on, or picking up the phone for comfort, news, messages, social media likes, and entertainment. These distractions mean that we are focused on the outside world, rather than seeking to be fully present with ourselves and our partners. Because of the sophistication of visual products, spending quality time and having intimacy with our real human partner may appear less appealing at first, because of the lack of equal stimulus – an aspect which technology has really mastered.
What does Intimacy have to do with Embodiment?
Intimacy is a state of authenticity and honesty, and sharing about it. It requires a willingness to face what is going on in the current moment, and to acknowledge it. This requires effective communication. Part of intimacy is embodiment. Our sensations give important messages about what is going on at present. Intimacy with others means willing to be present to the connection we have with them, and all the sensations and emotions this connection brings. Distractions can be a strategy of avoidance. We can’t feel selectively, and human lives and relationships are not always happiness, joy and beyond. By trying to avoid feeling anything that’s undesired, we also limit the opportunity to feel pleasure and connection, and that’s very true for couples. Avoiding intimacy however can lead to shallowness and stagnation in the relationship, which will be felt more and more as time goes on, and can lead to break-ups. As a partner, we want to feel loved and accepted with all that we are, and can bring to the relationship. It requires trust to gradually show all of our aspects, and it impacts our wellbeing when we feel that we are not welcome as we are. A happy relationship can be the make or break factor in the partners’ wellbeing, and lack of intimacy can decrease life satisfaction and creativity, can have a negative effect on health and mental health, work productivity and negatively affect all the communities the couple are involved in. Lack of intimacy also affects children’s happiness negatively. Children tend to copy whatever they experience at home, and miss out on crucial learning on communication and embracing vulnerability when their parents are not good at it.
What’s the Effect of better connected Intimate Moments?
Better connected intimate moments can make us feel at home, with ourselves, and our partner. When alone with our partner, in the living room or in the bedroom, we can be fully present to them with all of our senses, and discover more and more about who they are. This can feel absolutely magical.
When out on a romantic date, or having fun with our partner and a group of friends, we may see our partner with others’ eyes, which can bring a spark back into our relationship, and help build up pleasurable erotic tension. Both the world and the relationship we are in, benefit from us showing up authentically, and from bringing the gift of who we are. What is more, our romantic relationship can thrive when we take time to be present with our partner. This can have very positive effects for our families and children. By developing skills in mindfulness, embodiment and communication, as well as cultivating a mindset of curiosity and awe we can make intimate moments quality time that far surpass distraction and entertainment. It allows us to see ourselves better when mirrored through our partner’s eyes, and feel more like our true Selves, in a very empowered way. We may feel that we can root in the relationship, which may give us wings to fly in all areas of our lives, be it easier communication at work and increased productivity, better physical and mental health, an overall feeling of love and connection with our partner, our families and our communities, a feeling of wellbeing that others are drawn to, and emotional and physical satisfaction. In summary, better connected intimate moments far surpass benefits for the relationship alone. They can have far reaching positive consequences in all areas of our lives, and society at large.
What can you do to have better intimacy with your partner?
Exercises like eye gazing are really beneficial, but sometimes seem impossible to switch into from our busy lives full of stimuli by modern Technology.
It helps to have device free one-on-one dates scheduled in the calendar. Our usual alert beta brainwave state is not ideal for intimacy with our partners. Mindful awareness and breathing techniques can help us switch to more meditative modes, and slow down.
With busy schedules, carving time out to be with our partners without distractions seems crucial, as life tends to get in the way. Some couples set time aside every week which is dedicated to just listening and speaking. Timers can be useful tools here, so that the partners have equal opportunity to share, and to listen to each other. Communication skills are key: we aim to share about ourselves, rather than voicing opinions or judgements about the other. Also, it helps to be mindful and to recognise how present we can be, to notice when our mind drifts off, and to gently bring ourselves back to presence. It may feel wonderful to have our partner’s full attention, and their unconditional positive regard for what’s happening with us. A mindset of openness and curiosity helps, too – we can never fully know each other, nor ourselves! It allows up to fall in love with each other over and over again.
Similarly, couples may put physical touch dates into their diary, which have a set time, and are filled with activities that involve touch, and communication about preferences. Both partners have time set aside to just receive, and some activities can be for both partners. The couple can plan these dates together. They can have a focus on wellbeing, e.g. receiving a back massage, on erotically interesting activities, such as role play or power play, or may involve items or activities that cater for other senses than just the touch sense, such as little delicacies, seductive scents, sounds and music, or visual feasts. Delicacies can also comprise aphrodisiacs, like dark chocolate or champagne.
There are so many opportunities to have better intimacy with our partners when we keep modern technology at bay. Enjoy!