Wellbeing

4 ways tech is messing with your relationships and how to fix it

From phones in the bedroom to swipe-culture, this is what modern technology is doing to your interpersonal dynamics, and what you can do to remedy the situation…

Who remembers carrying a digital camera on a night out?

Or swapping gossip via MSN Messenger?

What about having to carefully curate your most-treasured texts because your phone only had storage for 10?

You don’t have to cast your mind too far back to realise that the way we use technology in our social lives has changed beyond all recognition.

And while today’s tech makes all that stuff look positively stone-age, the effect it has on our relationships isn’t always a positive one.

So with that in mind, here are four ways that modern technology is shaping your social relationships, and what you can do to redress the balance…

1. Swiping fatigue

App dating… still a divisive issue nearly a decade after Tinder first altered the way we seek romance.

On the one hand, dating has become far more accessible, with literally millions of potentially interested parties in the palm of your hand.

On the other, that endless possibility has lead to a kind of decision-making paralysis, with every potential match undercut by the idea that an even better option might be waiting at the next swipe.

“Dating apps are essentially fruit machines designed to endlessly keep you on the app by distracting you with ‘better’ options,” says former dating app consultant Nichi Hodgson, author of The Curious History of Dating: From Jane Austen to Tinder.

However, there are ways to overcome those drawbacks without deleting the apps altogether.

“Try swiping no more than 5 to 9 times per day,” says Hodgson. “Research from Match.com discovered this was the optimal number of profiles you could choose between before cognitive overload.

“Then turn off all the marketing and in-app alerts, to avoid being overloaded by yet more options.”

Mindful swiping… it’s a thing.

2. Bedroom distractions

We’re all guilty of being a bit too hooked on our phones, but according to Tanya Goodin, founder of Time To Log Off, some of the stats around phone use in the bedroom are truly staggering.

“When we ran a poll asking couples whether they touched their smartphone or their partner first in the morning, 83% admitted it was their smartphone,” says Goodin.

“Another study found that 1 in 10 of us admit to checking our smartphones during sex. That’s not before or after sex - during.”

And when sleep and skincare experts This Works conducted a survey in 2019, over half of respondents admitted to worrying about the amount of time their partner spends using their phone.

Needless to say, banning devices from bedtime is a pretty good place to start, while there are further steps you can take to make your sleep space more conducive to intimacy.

Pillow sprays can help get you into a more relaxed frame of mind, with the love sleep pillow spray from This Works combining fragrances of ylang ylang, frankincense and patchouli to stimulate areas of the brain associated with seeking reward, paving the way to pleasure and togetherness.

Blue light? Bad. Human connection? Good.

3. Constant connection

Breakups have been terrible since time immemorial, but at least in the old days, you could resolve never to see them again and go about your healing in peace.

These days? Not so easy.

“The idea of cutting someone out of our lives and being able to move on with a clean break now seems hopelessly outdated,” says Goodin.

“You have to wonder what it’s doing to our mental health when we can see what everyone we’ve ever dated is up to online.”

The solution? Good old-fashioned self-restraint.

“A rigorous strategy of blocking all your ex’s social media accounts is really the only thing that works,” she continues.

“All the platforms enable blocking, the tech exists to help us detach - we just have to use it.

“If it’s an amicable break-up, I’d suggest explaining to your ex that that’s what you need to do to move on.

“It will help you enforce it if you find yourself wavering.”

4. Bail culture

Remember when you had to actually call somebody on the phone if you wanted to cancel on them?

Well no, us neither, but the point still stands - Whatsapp has basically made us feel as though we can drop out of plans right up to the last minute.

Basically, we’re flakier than ever, and being able to send an impersonal message (rather than having to explain ourselves over the phone) has normalised bailing to the point that people don’t see it as a big deal.

Unfortunately, there’s no easy “hack” for this one… you just need to be better.

“Before you press send, take a moment to consider how you’d feel to be let down in this way,” says Hannah Martin, psychotherapist and founder of Talented Ladies Club.

“No one wants to hear the disappointment in a friend’s voice when you let them down, and sending a text is an easy way out.”

It’s a decent rule of thumb for social etiquette - if you wouldn’t feel comfortable making your excuse in person, don’t make it in a message.

The Love Sleep pillow spray is part of a range of bedroom solutions from This Works designed to enhance levels of relaxation in your evening space and promote intimacy. Think of it as an antidote to digital connectivity, paving the way for better sleep and better relationships. Shop the collection here.