My girlfriend and I have recently imposed a smartphone ban in the bedroom. The room where the ‘magic happens’ is now a complete digital detox zone. Well, apart from surfing Zoopla for houses we can’t afford on a Sunday morning, don’t take that away from us!
Why did we make this decision? Well, it’s simple: we started having less sex. I’ll freely admit, I didn’t think my smartphone was the problem. I felt perfectly comfortable with bed-time emailing, tweeting and having that final check of Facebook just to make sure there was nothing earth-shatteringly important I had missed (there never was). And when I’d finished all that, I was always ready for- to quote Flight of the Conchords- ‘business time’. Except… I wasn’t and, just as importantly, neither was she. Turns out, looking at angry tweets after Question Time isn’t exactly an aphrodisiac. Neither is being in your own little world, next to your partner, but not talking, not communicating, not connecting.
Now, I’m fortunate enough to be in a relationship where we discuss our problems. Not that both of us recognise a problem at the same time. When my girlfriend first described how she was feeling about the issue, I got very defensive. If I’m honest, I blamed her: ‘I’m always up for it, you’re just too tired by the time I go to bed’. Looking back, it was classic addict behaviour. I am addicted to my tech and like all addictions, it started to interfere with my most important personal relationships.
Turns out, I’m not alone. British people have had less and less sex since the dawn of the internet. The National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal) states that in 1990, the average heterosexual couple would have sex 5 times a month. By 2010, that figure had fallen to 3, meaning we’re having 40% less sexy time since Rosie and Jim first aired on TV! More alarmingly, at current rates the average person will be having no sex at all by 2040. Enter the sexbots and a dystopian A.I. world of online brothels… *shudders*
Cambridge Professor David Spiegelhalter, who used the data from Natsal to author Sex By Numbers, placed the blame for this firmly on the internet age when he told BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour: ‘as we’ve become better connected technologically, our lives have become busier with the boundaries eroded between home, work and the outside world. This has squeezed out time we would have spent with our other halves.’
I agree with Professor Spiegelhalter on this but I actually think it’s less work/ life boundaries that are a problem and more online/offline boundaries. We’re not always necessarily ‘working’ late into the night but we are constantly engaging online alongside our offline life. I love social media and it is a great way to stay connected with people you don’t currently share the same small area of planet with but I think those moments with your partner, in the bedroom are best served and enhanced by good-old-fashioned face to face interaction.
So what do we do? Well, I think it’s clear that we need to actively re-build these online/offline ‘boundaries’ in our own lives. Technology is, by design, addictive and like any addiction, it takes clear rules and routine to overcome with constant monitoring. Without going into too much detail: the no tech in the bedroom rule has worked wonders. So start small and give yourself an hour of tech free time before your normal bedtime with your loved one. You can thank me later 😉
Rob Warren also is Vegetarian Cook, writer and adventurer in search of the most delicious vegetarian food over at Veggie Lad
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