Obviously there are some pretty awesome aspects of having our own tiny, powerful computers on us 24/7—not just for convenience sake, but for our relationships, too. Thanks to FaceTime and texting staying connected throughout the day and across distances is easier than ever. That being said, when it comes to a date night, nothing zaps romance like a constant buzz from a phone nearby.
The fact is, as wonderful as our phones are, they are terrible for quality time, and our human connections are suffering as a result. Research suggests that iPhone dependency has a negative impact on relationship satisfaction, making us feel less satisfied and less secure in the relationship. Dr. Gary Chapman, author of the The 5 Love Languages, explains that true quality time must involve quality attention. That means listening to your partner without allowing yourself to get distracted by things like Instagram, Facebook, your news app, text messages, and the hundred other things our phones tease us with at any given moment.
The best way to ensure you don't get distracted on your next date? Remove the distraction. Leave your phone at home. This probably seems like a scary proposition, right? How will we find the restaurant? How will we Instagram our food? Well, that's why we asked the co-stars of the marriage podcast Marriage Is Funny, Jessie Artigue and her husband Gerard Brown, to test drive this idea of date night—unplugged. Here are the highlights!
Jessie: Gerard and I are big comedy enthusiasts, so it was an easy sell when I told Gerard we’d be going “phone-less” for our date to see David Spade perform at the Irvine Improv last weekend. They don’t allow the use of cell phones in most comedy clubs (so that part was pretty easy), but we definitely noticed a difference during dinner and on the car ride!
It’s Not Very Magical at First
Jessie: I kept thinking of things that I needed to follow up on with friends/family. Little loose ends that I would normally take care of while we were together ended up having to wait until the next morning, and I’m generally pretty forgetful unless I add it to my to-do list (on the phone) or take care of it as soon as it pops into my brain.
Gerard: Something I do whenever I stand up from where I'm sitting is check my pockets for my belongings. So any time I stood up from my seat, during our date, I had a miniature panic attack that I had lost my phone. I would literally stop in my tracks, frisk all my pockets, and then remember that I intentionally didn't have my phone on me.
There Were Also Logistical Problems . . .
Jessie: We ended up wanting to connect with an acquaintance after our dinner, but weren’t able to see him without reaching out to let him know where we would be.
Gerard: I wanted to double check Waze (a transportation app) on our way home to figure out the fastest route.
But Conversation Was So Much Deeper
Jessie: No phones made us rely on daydreaming as our primary source of entertainment! We already love doing this together (and have even talked about it on our show), but instead of getting continually interrupted by pings and buzzes, we dove right in and had a wonderful conversation about our next big project.
Gerard: It was nice. Whenever there was a lull in the conversation, instead of reaching for my phone to find something to share or look for something else to talk about, we went further into our conversation that we were having and really explored the different aspects of that topic, instead of glossing over it.
They Didn’t Miss the Other Person’s Phone at All (Shocker!)
Jessie: I didn't miss feeling like I was vying for Gerard’s attention. It stood out quite a bit for me.
Gerard: When we drove home, Jessie didn't catch up on all her Instagram/Snapchat stories. Usually she'll watch them while I'm driving, which means I am subjected to the audio of unidentified friends.
But Did It Actually Help with Intimacy?
Jessie: One thing that stood out to me was that it finally felt like we were alone. This definitely increased the perceived level of intimacy and the value of our quality time. We typically try to be respectful about using our phones when we’re together, but in this case, the knowledge that there was NO chance that either one of us would lapse or even have to respond to an “urgent” matter was very freeing!
Gerard: I did have a moment where I wondered if anyone had tried to get a hold of us, but then I realized I didn't really care if they had. It was a Saturday night, and we were together, and that's all that mattered to me. It was really enjoyable to have focused time with one another and I felt connected with Jessie over the course of our evening.
So there you have it, folks. Increased intimacy, feelings of freedom, a reason to not be so available to everyone—do you need more reasons than that to try a phone-free activity with your S.O., like, ASAP? Let us know how it goes in the comments!
Photo Credit: Carli Rene