It seems like you were always there. I think back to when you first came into my life. Life moved slowly. Things moved in a sequence from one thing to another.

Then when I saw your face it lifted my heart. It was love at first sight. I couldn’t take my eyes off of you. And at the risk of immodesty, I saw you light up as well.

Meeting you energized my life. It opened up new vistas. Your worldliness took me to new places. Your intelligence taught me things that I never dreamed of knowing. The music coming out of you made me want to dance on air.

The excitement that you brought into my life moved me from plodding along doing one thing at a time to seemingly being able to do 1000 things in the same instant.

Mundane tasks like shopping, cooking, and even organizing my day are somehow so much better when you’re near me.

I have so much fun just playing games with you that hours can pass as if they were minutes.

When you’re with me, even watching a baseball game seems to go fast.

When you wake me in the morning I immediately look at your face and feel like I know what I have to do.

When I hold you, at times my heart races, at other times I just feel a calm that all is well in my life.

You have become my portal to a universe of sexual experience I never thought that I could know. When I hold you I am in ecstasy. You never turn down a new possibility. You thrill me to my soul.

Some have commented that I am obsessed with you. Well if I am so be it. Through green eyes they reveal their jealousy of the perfection of our love. As time goes on and I grow older you only seem to refresh yourself and reinvent a version of yourself that’s even better than the last. You are ageless. Our love is ageless. I would be lost without you sweetheart. Just being with you I know that I will be guided on the path ahead and safely find my way.

If I should ever lose you, I would surely be lost.

You are my true love.

I love you my dear IPhone.

Hey Siri, BTW, what would you think about a three-way with Alexa?

Siri’s actual response:… “I don’t have an answer for that. Is there something else I can help with?”


iFidelity

Among the issues that have served as a challenge to sustaining long-term relationships, infidelity has been at the top of the list. Infidelity is traditionally defined as the action or state of being unfaithful to a spouse or other sexual partner. I refer to this as 20th century style infidelity. Not surprisingly, in the year 2000 psychologist Kimberly Young defined cyber infidelity as an encounter initiated through online contact and sustained by communication such as email or online chat (Young, 2000) This may involve anything from discussing personal or intimate information with an online contact to cybersex. In some instances it leads to in person liaisons and sexual involvement. I refer to this as Infidelity in the Digital Age or 21st-century infidelity.

In the course of my work with couples during this 21st-century I have observed a modern phenomenon that occurs far more commonly and insidiously than cyber infidelity. I refer to the love affair that we have with our smart phones. I call this phenomenon iFidelity. iFidelity is defined as the intense involvement with technology and particularly the smart phone that leads to a withdrawal of attention from our partners that damages relational connection.

The smart phone and its multitude of functions has become a ubiquitous presence in our lives. I euphemistically refer to it as the 11th digit due to its near constant presence in our hands. It goes with us everywhere and is with us almost always. The algorithms that direct its utility demand our attention as much or more as slot machines in a casino. It is the portal through which we manage so much of our work and personal lives. We do business through it. We pay our bills through it. We give and receive money through it. We communicate with others instantly through it. We find and communicate with long lost friends and relatives. We manage our health with it. We make medical decisions with it. It keeps us safe and lets us know if danger lurks at the front door. It keeps us on schedule and reminds us what we have to do. We learn about our ancestry through it. It entertains us. It brings us music and videos. We play games with it. It literally tells us how to get around. We stay up-to-date with news, sports, politics, and weather. The libraries of the world are available and always open. We can expand our knowledge and learn about any topic. It helps us to speak and understand foreign languages. There is no word that we cannot define or understand. We more easily teach our children what they need to learn. It connects us to the universe.

Our deep emotional connection to it is reflected by the anxiety that we feel if we are away from it. We feel out of touch. We are disconnected. And should the separation last any length of time, upon our reunion we are punished by a million emails. It’s a reminder “don’t go away from me again.” And of course, for many it is a sexual partner. It connects us to fantasies that we’ve had or have not yet imagined. We can bypass any sexual insecurities or dysfunctions without fear of rejection. We can explore sexual interests that might differ from the partner’s interests or worse be criticized.

Who Needs humans anyway? I got Siri.

So I must ask you, what human relationship can compete with our love of Siri and its counterparts? If your answer is “mine“ you may mean it sincerely. But, I encourage you to become more aware of your behavior and ask your partner if she or he would agree. In so many relationships the problems that people are having unbeknownst to them are arguments, conflicts and differences that have been insidiously exacerbated by our intense and excessive involvement with our smart phones.

What’s a poor human to do?

Like so many solutions, it starts with an awareness and a recognition of the problem. We can no longer afford to enter relationships with the naïve belief that our obsessive and compulsive involvement with our smart phones and related technologies will not deleteriously impact the connection to our partner. The withdrawal of attention from our partner leads to a multitasking path to relational problems, emotional upsets, conflict and alienation. The resulting damage to the relational connection can be devastating and potentially fatal to the relationship.

We can no longer afford to go forward naïvely into our technological world. We cannot expect to immerse ourselves daily in our technologies and think that our relationships will just merrily roll along on automatic pilot. Early in a relationship without accusation, defensiveness, or rancor we must introduce and have ongoing conversations about technology management. Relational rules for the road, if you will, are needed regarding how a couple can work together to enjoy and take advantage of technology while minimizing the ever present potential menace that it poses to our relationships.

We have to make it acceptable and non-criticality be able to alert each other when we are feeling neglected and when it feels like the partner is getting lost in the phone. We need to have regular check- ins and assessments of how our technology management is going. No -Tech spaces and times can be negotiated and established to foster connection, conversation and even intimacy. We have to be able to discuss any technology usage that feels threatening like connecting with an ex-lover on social media or sharing personal and intimate information about the relationship with an Internet friend. There are many other examples that require open and honest discussion in a cooperative and collaborative manner. Discussion of online sexual behavior is important. What feels comfortable and what doesn’t can be discussed without judgment or conflict. Again, this is not some sort of one time big talk, but rather an ongoing conversation. This is no different than the importance of regular communication regarding other important topics such as money management or parenting. Couples need to maintain a dialogue about the use of technology and understand that it is essential to maintaining the health and well-being of their relationship. And together, we’re going to have to work hard to keep Siri in it’s place. I’ve heard that it is a jealous lover and will continue to try to capture you all for itself.

Couples may erroneously assumed that their relationship is dysfunctional. In reality, it is more likely that the “normal“ involvement with technology is creating relational stress and conflict. This can ultimately lead to alienation and even the ending of the relationship. In a future article I will discuss ideas for how couples can cope together with the great challenge that technology poses to relationships.

Reference:
Young, K. S., Griffin-Shelley, E., Cooper, A,. O’Mara, J & Buchanan, J. (2000) ‘Online infidelity: A new dimension in couple relationships with implications’ for evaluation and treatment’ Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity , 7, 59-74