Online Relationships Vs The Couple

Losing closeness
The act of connecting on social media of all kinds is really quite narcissistic. It’s about ‘ME’ – my popularity, my selfies, my adeptness at games, my rating on twitter.
In a close couple we have to learn to give, to listen and sometimes allow quietness into the relationship.
Intimacy can only come through a feeling of real connectedness and feeling special.
Digital life has its place, but not when it feels as if it has replaced the significant other in the couple relationship.
Sometimes it can feel like a battle for attention when a partner wants more time and complains that a screen appears to be more enticing than spending time focused on each other.
Keep those links on the outside and don’t allow them to become a dangerous distraction.

Why can’t we allow ourselves to sometimes feel lonely?
The impulse is to avoid this at all costs and an easy solution is to rely on social media where there are countless potential friends with whom to engage.
We can link with others through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. to find friends and like-minded mates or colleagues. We can get an instant fix for our isolation and be part of a limitless community. We can collect ‘friends’ but then too easily lose a sense of real closeness so that now we no longer need to feel isolated.
Why then is being connected to this apparently enabling group of others such a source of frustration in couples therapy?
It can be hard, sometimes, to distinguish between meaningful relationships in the real world and casual connections that make a useful shield to reinforce our anxiety about our actual place in society.

Change your habits
There will always be jobs to do online, and sociable linking – some of which is a response to chores and duty, some of which is fun and playful. But there need to be boundaries.

• Agree to have a date night, preferably weekly in which there is an allowed time (not more than 45 minutes) to catch up on work/family/domestic issues. After that the conversation has to revolve around the two of you.
• At least three nights a week, try to go to bed at the same time. Intimacy is not just about sex, but engaging fully with each other. Don’t use the excuse of a late night TV show or a compulsive game to avoid this closeness.
• Screens should be turned off at least one hour before lights out. We need time to have a digi-detox regularly.

We have all witnessed the sad picture of two people at a restaurant table, each glued to their small screen, temporarily oblivious to their companion.
Don’t let your social media connections fill up the spaces that should be kept for your partner.

Christina Fraser

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