The latest sites, apps, and technology make life easier than ever, but could they be putting a damper on your intimacy? Let's turn down the digital drama. By Anne Roderique-Jones, REDBOOK.
1. Blogging sucks up your time and attention
Jacalyn Lee, who recently moved from New York City to Paris, uses her blog as a way to provide updates on her new life - and as an outlet for creativity and self-expression. "But when my husband walks through the door from a long day of work, I ask him to wait while I finish a blog post or want his feedback on my work," Lee says. She hopes that some of this online chronicling will serve as a scrapbook of their lives, but recognizes that it often gets in the way of their intimacy. Without intending to, Lee may be putting her spouse second to those in the blogosphere, says Dr. Lori Buckley, psychologist and author of 21 Decisions for Great Sex and a Happy Relationship. It's wise to schedule blogging into certain time-slots, and to be aware of how much you discuss it, so that during the face-to-face time you do have, you're fully present to engage and support your partner.
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2. Facebook reintroduces characters from your past
If not for Facebook, we'd have a much more difficult time keeping up-to-date on our friends' promotions, adorable baby photos, and favorite memes. But while the social network is a fantastic tool for keeping in touch with friends and family, it can also put a huge strain on your marriage. Facebook is designed to connect you with your past, but with that comes things it might not be so wise to bring back. A friend request from a high school crush can quickly turn into messaging, texting, and emotional infidelity because without an in-person connection, cheating is much more difficult to define.
3. Foursquare makes you check out, not in
We're all about the freebies and recommendations that come with checking in on Foursquare, but the constant urge to do so can be seriously damaging to your love life. "I love Foursquare, and like to check in right when we get to a restaurant," says Susan Koch of Campbell, CA. "This often annoys my husband since it can kind of kill the whole romance thing. On the positive side, he's often thankful for the reviews because we get great tips on what to order. Okay, maybe not that thankful." Koch isn't the only one checking in at a location, but checking out of her one-on-one time. A recent Mobile Mindset Study found that 30 percent of people check their phones during meals with others, with those 35 to 44 being the worst offenders. "When you make your loved one your primary focus of attention, they know that they are the most important thing in your life," says Dr. Buckley. "Being on your phone gives a very different message."
4. Online games interrupt the things that matter
Brushing up on your vocab with a game of Scrabble will help keep you sharp, whether you play it on a game-board or your phone - but unlike the old-fashioned activity, the tech variety makes tearing yourself away incredibly difficult. "My wife is obsessed with Words With Friends," says New Yorker Corey Fosterson. "On our anniversary, we were having a very romantic evening in bed, and she excused herself to go to the bathroom. It seemed to be taking an unusually long time, and when I went to check on her, she was sneaking in a quick three-letter word. I'm pretty sure I used a four-letter one under my breath." As what Good In Bed founder Dr. Ian Kerner calls "binge consumers," we can watch an entire season of Downton Abbey in one weekend - and our addiction to online games is no different. He suggests beating the obsession by looking at technology consumption like calories. Just as you only eat a certain amount of food each day, you should engage in game-playing for a limited time - say 30 minutes per day.
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5. Instagram takes you out of the moment
A free, user-friendly way to take photos without lugging around a camera, Instagram's one of our favorite ways to record important - and not so important - events. But the photo app that turns an average person into Ansel Adams can actually be ruinous for romance. "This past weekend, my husband and I were on a potentially romantic getaway, and while we were walking on the beach, I was so consumed with trying to get the perfect pictures of seashells that I didn't even notice he was about 100 feet ahead of me," says Chrissy Monroe of Cold Springs, NY. "So much for enjoying each other's company." Kerner empathizes - he jokingly refers to his wife as "the paparazzi" thanks to her phone constantly going off. But taking photos for, and looking at others' snapshots on Instagram is actually a distancing mechanism, he says. "You end up with the moments, but not the experiences."
6. iPads upend your tried-and-true routines
Eco-friendly, convenient and space-saving? Check, check, check. But despite all of its pluses, an iPad can also be a real buzz-kill to your marriage. "I take out the iPad when I get up in the morning don't put it away until I close my eyes at night," says New Yorker Angie McMillin, who initially bought her tablet for work. "I watch movies on it, read my magazines, check emails throughout the day, and even text." She and her husband used to have coffee and do the Sunday crossword puzzle together, but now she does that her iPad, too. Instead of being connected to her husband - and their shared activities - she's plugged into her iPad, non-stop. Buckley suggests spending one night a week without your iPad, and the rest of the time, use your gadget to send flirty texts and photos to each other. "If you're going to use it, use it for good," she says.
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7. Pinterest helps you avoid the real problem
This collection of virtual pinboards is awesome for recipes, décor ideas and fitness motivation, but all that future-life-lust could be preventing you from appreciating everything you already have - and your husband may notice. "Yes, I'm obsessed with Pinterest," confesses Jamie Garrison of Lawrence, KS. "I even have a 'romantic bedroom' board. Sadly, I spend more time pinning than on my actual love life." Buckley identifies that Jamie is so busy doing that she doesn't have time to be romantic. If you can't take your mouse off Pinterest, Buckley suggests making a "date night" board on the site, and sending it your husband as a way to choose, plan, and follow though with a tech-free weekly date.
8. Twitter makes you focus on the wrong people
Whereas we use Facebook to keep in touch with friends - or at least acquaintances - Twitter encourages us to follow media, celebrities, and people that we don't know personally. The custom newsfeed of sorts makes keeping up with the world around you simpler, but giving your time and attention to strangers, rather than the people in whom you're invested - and who feel the same way about you - can be detrimental to your most important relationships. "It's a mistake to think you know everything there is to know about the people closest to you," says Buckley, who suggests you work on learning from the people around you, rather than seeking newness outside of your social circle. You never know which friend can introduce you to an awesome, trendy workout, or why your husband's so invested in a particular political issue until you ask.
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