Is Your Phone A Third Wheel In Your Relationship?
Have you ever gone out with a couple friend? Just to avoid going somewhere alone?
I have. My best friend and her boyfriend have let me tag along numerous times. Graciously too I might add.
And even though I know I’m welcomed, I still feel like a third wheel some of the time.
Two is a nice round even number. It’s intimate. It’s connected. And an outside influence can sometimes interrupt the flow.
Enter your cell phone.
Yes, I know it’s important. MasterCard was ahead of its time with their “Don’t leave home without it” ad. Not that we need to be reminded to take our phones.
You don’t turn around and go back to work or home for a drink left on the counter, or a light left on in the hallway, BUT a cell phone left on the bed THAT’S cause for an illegal u-turn and a race against time to retrieve it.
It has become our lifeline to the world. And I get it. I carry mine with me too. But for the purpose of this article, I want to talk about the right ways and the wrong ways to use your phone in a relationship.
It can work for you, and unfortunately, if you are not careful, it can work against you. And you don’t want to wake up and discover your phone is the third wheel in the relationship that has gone off track.
The 3 Don'ts For Cell Phone Use In Your Relationship
1. Don't Use It To Stalk Your Partner
Your partner has gone to pick up dinner. And left their phone on the table.
Don't do it! I know you want to. I know it is so tempting just to take a peek. But don't.
It's crazy when you think about it, but so many of us put our entire lives on a machine that can not only crash or be lost but can easily be accessed.
But even within the confines of a relationship, there is still an expectation of privacy when it comes to our phones. Every couple is different, and I'm not suggesting you make everything surrounding your phone secretive (that's coming up later), but if you have to look at their phone when they are not around, then it's wrong.
First of all, without the proper context, innocent things can look sketchy. And just the thought that you need to look at all says one of two things: You already suspect something. Or, there is something in your past that you brought into this relationship.
If you truly can't trust your partner, then you need to re-evaluate why you want to be together. And if you are bringing yesterday's trash to today's buffet, you need to do the work to let it go.
And even though you tell yourself it will help build trust every time you look and don't find anything, it can easily turn into an addiction and a vicious cycle. You will find yourself needing a 'trust fix' that will one day catch up with you and most likely backfire and burn the relationship.
2. Don't Use It For Inappropriate Behavior
I don't feel called to judge what anyone does on their own time, but I just have one thing to say:
Whatever goes in the cloud, stays in the cloud.
I just watched a documentary on a guy who started a website dedicated to revenge porn. Simply put, it was a place where heartbroken or resentful exs could post private pictures once intended to be 'just for fun'.
A lot of personal and even professional damage can be done if your private, intimate times are on display for the world to see.
And I understand there are apps that promise security and encryption, but just don't say you weren't warned. It's a very risky thing.
3. Don't Use It As A Distraction From Problems
How often do you go out and see a couple eating a nice meal with both of their heads buried in their phones? How romantic is that? Zero!
Do you sit on the couch at night each scrolling and scrolling mindlessly and end the evening with no meaningful conversation?
Cultivating a relationship means working through difficult times or a difference of opinion. And yes, that's hard. And for those of you who were never taught conflict resolution skills, avoidance becomes the favored option.
You can't fight ir you're watching Instagram reels, right? Well, you might not fight, but you won't grow either.
Relationships require responsibility and commitment. When an issue pops up, meet it head one. Be kind. Listen. Talk it out.
Don't hide behind your phone thinking the problem will go away. It won't.
But your partner might.
The 3 Dos For Cell Phone Use In A Relationship
1. Do Turn It Off On Date Night
There should be an agreement from the beginning that phones are turned off on date night. No interruptions from the outside world.
No notifications popping up in the middle of a conversation.
No random text about your prescription pick up to spoil the mood.
Just turn it off.
Now, I get it. Sometimes people need to be reached. Family issues might come up. A babysitter might need to reach out. So be fair and reasonable.
But do your best to reserve date night as a time just for the two of you. To reconnect. Remember why you love each other. Share your dreams and plans for the future.
THEN download the app to track all those dreams and plans when the date is over.
2. Do Be Open About Other Contacts
So I mentioned above that it's not cool to go through your partner's phone. But here's the thing:
Don't do anything to make them doubt you.
Don't ALWAYS have your phone on silent. Don't walk away from them when it rings. Don't turn it over and pretend you didn't just hear the text tone.
And don't have 2 Moms and 3 BFFs in your contacts.
Sure, you might have been a player in the day. And we all have someone in our past that pops up randomly to say high, ask for money, or even beg for another chance. You can't help who contacts you, but you can be open with your partner.
If someone is contacting you and you feel the need to lie or hide it, then your relationship is not being built on trust and is probably not very stable.
3. Do Use It For Its Intended Purpose
Communication! Today our cell phones are micro-computers and can run almost every aspect of our lives. But its primary function was intended to be a source of communication.
And that's what relationships thrive on.
Call your partner. Text them good morning. Or good night. Send funny memes. Use it to stay in contact and let them know how special they are to you.
And answer when they reach out to you. There is no time for cat and mouse games where you wait for ten minutes or 24 hours, or pretend you are too busy to answer. That's childish and mean.
If you can't take their call or answer their text, respond when you can. Don't leave them hanging just to make them miss you more.
And on the flip side, just because someone doesn't answer your text in five minutes doesn't mean something is wrong with the relationship or that they are on the phone talking with someone else. Things come up. Work. Traffic. Family.
Yes, phones can provide immediate contact, but life doesn't always allow for it. Don't freak out every time. Don't sound desperate and needy for attention.
Communication is easier now than it ever was. So utilize this tool to strengthen and establish your relationship.
No One Likes Being The Third Wheel
People have been falling in love and making commitments for centuries. Long before online dating apps, text messages, and TikTok.
In the right context, your phone can be a helpful tool in keeping your relationship fresh and growing.
But never forget it is not a substitute for YOU.
My Hopefuls, human interaction is harder to come by these days. We can do everything online and mostly without looking each other in the eye.
Let's not lose our humanity for the sake of convenience.
And always remember to:
Hope With Abandon