Are you being ‘bluelighted’ in your relationship?

Technology is a blessing and a curse (Picture: Getty Images)

There are not many things more infuriating in a relationship than having every conversation abruptly cut off due to a phone call or ‘hilarious’ group chat message.

Or when the conversation is one-sided because your partner was using the majority of their comprehension skills reading a Reddit post or playing a video game.

Maybe you’re at a point where conversing is the least of either of your worries, because you would rather sit in silence watching the latest rerun of Top Gear for the fifth time that week.

While smartphones, laptops and televisions have become a normal, and important, part of our everyday lives, there is such a thing as too much – especially in a relationship.

When technology is becoming so prominent in our lives that it disrupts our emotional connections, we have a problem.

This is called bluelighting and, according to Dr. Katherine Hertlein, world-renowned couples therapist and lead advisor at sex therapy app Blueheart, it’s an issue that has been fuelled by the pandemic, and become particularly prominent over recent months.

What are the impacts of bluelighting?

From a lack of communication to even a lack of sex, too much technology can turn sour quickly. 

If either you or your partner spends too much time on their phone, or is constantly distracted by a digital device, holding even the most interesting conversation may become difficult, and it can leave the other feeling dismissed and lonely.

‘This can include anything from a lack of eye contact or failing to acknowledge that someone has spoken, to completely ignoring a partner’s presence,’ explains Hertlein.

‘Failing to address this issue can contribute towards a partner feeling ignored or underappreciated, eventually leading to feelings of resentment.’

illustration of couple dining together while using phonesExcess screen time can cause a breakdown of communication (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Another major impact is discrepancies in desire, which are likely to occur when one partner prioritisies screen time over intimacy. 

Hertlein says: ‘Partners’ libido levels or sexual expectations can dramatically differ and become misaligned when bluelighting becomes a problem, which can create distance between couples, affecting their levels of connection and sexual satisfaction.’

In fact, bluelighting might lead to an inability to stay present in the bedroom which, Hertlein says, can weaken the emotional bond between partners. 

Finally, too much screen time can have negative health impacts which may have a knock on effect in the relationship.

‘For example,’ says Hertlein, ‘too much bluelighting can affect a partner’s sleeping pattern, causing constant tiredness and grogginess, or impact their ability to fully relax and ground themselves, causing frequent mood changes.’

How to re-establish intimacy when bluelighting becomes a problem

couple on couch using phoneBluelighting can cause resentment (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

If bluelighting has become an issue in your relationship, you don’t need to panic. 

Getting off your devices is the first step, and there are a number of steps you can take to bring some intimacy and connection back into your relationship.

Keep digital devices out of the bedroom

Having a ‘no phone zone’ area in your living space is a great idea if you need to go cold turkey. 

‘This can help both of you to fully switch off and focus on each other without the distractions of technology,’ says Hertlein.

‘This is a great way to set clear boundaries on when it’s acceptable to be on a digital device around your partner, allowing both of you to keep maintaining a strong connection.’

Set aside some ‘phone-free’ time

As well as having a no phone zone, having a period of time each night, either before bed or while you’re eating dinner, where screen time is banned, can help you to reconnect each day.

‘Making the effort to plan some time together without technology – even just cooking a meal together at home – can be a great way to enhance your romantic connection,’ says Hertlein.

‘Different settings can further help to make things feel fresh and new, so it could be helpful to schedule a date night, away from your home, to give both of you the time to be fully engaged with each other.’

Be honest

‘Open and honest communication can strengthen your connection with a partner,’ says Hertlein.  

‘If you have concerns that digital devices are affecting your daily routine or satisfaction levels with each other, try to get to the root of the problem together. 

‘Set specific time aside to have these conversations and remember to start with “I” statements, so you can help your partner understand how you feel.’

Practice Sensate Focus

If bluelighting has seeped into the bedroom, it might be a good idea to try Sensate Focus, a well-renowned sex therapy tool that will teach you and your partner to be more minfdul during intimacy. 

‘This is one of the few techniques scientifically proven to realign partners’ libido levels,’ Hertlein explains.  

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‘It encourages couples to physically explore one another by touching different body parts (excluding genitalia) with a focus on sensations such as texture, pressure, temperature. 

‘It can help you to clear your mind and push away any distracting or intrusive thoughts during intimacy. 

And, after two weeks of using this technique, couples were found to be 105% more satisfied with the amount of physical intimacy between themselves and their partner.

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