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Are you spending more time on your mobile device than the time you spend actually interacting with your partner or your spouse? Has your relationship taken a bad turn as you make choices between real love and social media? 

If so, you wouldn’t be alone.

According to a recent report, 71 percent of individuals say they spend more time on their phones than they spend with their love interests, with 52 percent of individuals spending three or four more hours on their phones than with their partners every day.
While smartphones and social media networks might not have had much of an impact on your life 10 years ago, chances are they do today. One study, for example, found that the average American clocks 5.4 hours of screen time on their mobile devices every single day. Further, the top 10 percent of heaviest mobile device users touch their phones nearly 5,500 times throughout the day! 
In large part, this addiction to technology is actually by design; researchers have found that social media networks, for example, are purposely built to keep you glued to the screen.
Regardless, your significant other is unlikely to be too thrilled if they constantly see you staring at your screen when they’re trying to have a conversation. Unsurprisingly, research suggests that 43 percent of “heavy tech users” — those who spend between five and eight hours on their phones every day — have experienced relationship troubles, compared to 28 percent of those who are on their phones for less than an hour a day.

If you’re spending too much time staring at your screens and your relationships are struggling because of it, the good news is all hope isn’t lost.  By identifying the bad habits that are harming your relationship, swapping them out with good habits, and talking to a therapist if the problem persists, you can strengthen your relationships and find real love in our social media-driven world.  

BAD HABITS WITH SOCIAL MEDIA THAT ARE RUINING YOUR RELATIONSHIPS In order to cut out bad habits from your day-to-day, you first need to identify what they are. If you’re racking up too much screen time when you’re with your partner or spouse, here are some of the habits that are almost certainly driving that behavior. 

‘Phubbing’ When you’re hanging out with your significant other and you suddenly decide to pick up your phone — consciously or otherwise — you’re guilty of behavior called “phubbing,” which is a portmanteau that combines phone and snubbing. 

Using your phone at the table Whether you’re eating breakfast, lunch, or dinner, meals are the perfect time to catch up with your partner and ask them how their day has been or what plans they have on tap for it. If you pick up your phone during the meal, chances are your loved one won’t be too thrilled. Plus, you’re liable to get all sorts of grease and other junk on your device. Yuck! 

Spying on old lovers and love interests Social media enables us to keep tabs on people from afar. In fact, a recent report found that 34 percent of individuals have stalked an ex or current love interest online. If you’re the type of person who’s guilty of this behavior, your partner won’t be too happy with you when they find out. 

Checking social media first thing in the morning and last thing at night Are you the type of person who checks social media before you say good morning to your spouse — and who checks it right before bed, too? If so, these habits can cause rifts in your relationship as your mind is elsewhere during the more intimate parts of the dayOf course, this list is by no means exhaustive. But it should give you a good idea of some of the more pervasive smartphone-induced bad habits that pull couples apart. 

WHAT NEW SCREEN TIME HABITS SHOULD YOU INTRODUCE TO KEEP RELATIONSHIPS ALIVE? 
If too much screen time is ruining your relationships, ditch the above bad habits and replace them with some of these more wholesome ones. 

Delete your apps When too much screen time is getting in the way of your relationship, there’s an easy fix: delete the apps that are commandeering the bulk of your time. If you don’t have the apps on your phone in the first place, you’re much less likely to spend time on social media when you’re with your partner. 

Be more empathetic Put yourself in your partner’s shoes: How would you feel if your significant other picked up their phone in the middle of a conversation and started ignoring you? Chances are you wouldn’t be too happy. By trying to see things from your spouse’s perspective, it can become easier to ditch your phone when you’re together since you don’t want to hurt their feelings. 

Put your phone in the other room When you’re trying to have some quality alone time with your partner — whether you’re trying to cook a meal, watch some Netflix, or do a puzzle together — an easy way to make sure you don’t fall into the spell of social media is to simply put your phone in another room. When your phone is out of your arms’ reach, you can’t exactly pick it up mid-conversation. 

Get a real alarm clock According to a recent report, 83 percent of Americans use their phone as an alarm clock. If that describes you, consider buying an old-school alarm clock and moving your phone away from where you sleep. By doing so, you will eliminate the ability to read your phone first thing in the morning and right before you go to sleep. 

STILL STRUGGLING WITH SCREEN TIME? TALK TO A THERAPIST 
Depending on how bad your social media addiction is, ditching your bad habits and developing good ones might not be enough to help you break the cycle.  If your situation is particularly difficult, you may want to talk to a therapist and try marriage counseling or couples counseling to overcome the social media-induced challenges you’re facing as a couple. The right therapist will be able to help you navigate your problems and figure out a solution that’s amicable to both you and your partner. Remember, social media is meant to be addicting. When your real relationships are suffering because of it, it’s time to find a therapist who can help you prioritize important relationships over screen time. © Copyright 2022 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved.