The bottom line is that when you bring your technology on your date, you run the risk of not being attentive.
Screens of all shapes and sizes have infiltrated our lives to the point of distraction Gone are the days when you could only get a hold of someone at work or at home, period. Now, communication devices go with us wherever we go – errands, shopping, movie theaters, and yes….dates.
Many young and even not-so-young people on the dating scene have iphones, Blackberrys and other PDAs on their person during an entire date. Everything from mom’s weekly check-in phone call to an urgent work e-mail can be channeled directly to you and your companion’s dinner table. But is this appropriate? Isn’t it difficult enough to connect with a new person without having your entire contact list able to interrupt you at the press of a button?
While there’s no rulebook to consult to find out what your technological boundaries should be, we can still turn to good old-fashioned manners to help us decide...
Attention Deficit Dis!
No I didn’t forget the rest of the word – lack of attention on a date is a dis no matter what the reason. If your eyes are straying across the room, or you’re tuning out what your date is saying, you’re not paying attention, and that’s a bad thing.
When technology comes into play, the problem intensifies. Imagine your date taking her first bite of the gnocchi Alfredo you recommended at this expensive Italian bistro downtown. The candlelight flickers as your eyes meet. She is in the palm of your hand….then suddenly your pants start vibrating. Sadly it’s not the love-vibe of a great date going well, it’s your buddy across town bored and looking for someone to complain to. Which of the following do you do?
A) Hit ignore and turn off your phone
B) Hit ignore and leave your phone on or,
C) Answer the call and sit there chatting while your date loses interest
If you answered C, you have a problem. And you’re not alone.
The Science Of Phone Addiction
Just in case you thought you were all alone with your sick and desperate pathology that forces you to jump to attention whenever your phone pings or buzzes, you should know that there are brain chemicals involved that are completely beyond your control.
Studies show that when people receive a text or a phone call, the alert triggers an endorphin rush in the brain. It’s akin to the feeling that, “Somebody loves me!” And who doesn’t want be loved? This brain chemistry is the culprit behind the dangerous texting and driving behavior that is causing accidents and deaths worldwide as distracted drivers reach for their phones and ignore the road in front of them.
Court-ordered behavior modification for drivers found guilty of texting and driving requires that driver’s phones be turned off or put in the trunk of the car for the duration of the ride. That’s how powerful the pull is to answer the phone. Even people who have been convicted of physically harming or even killing another person while texting and driving can’t resist the urge.
But back to how it affects your dating life. When you put your phone down on the table between yourself and your date, ask yourself the following question:
Is There Somewhere You’d Rather Be?
That’s the question your date will be asking himself as you text your friend for the tenth time in a half hour period. If you’re back and forth with her to decide where you should all meet up later, that’s permissible, but if you’re giving her minute-by-minute advice on what she should wear out this evening? Get off the phone already! Keep it short and to the point. Otherwise you are most definitely being rude.
All successful dating strategies include the two magic words: “eye contact.” Keeping your eyeballs in the direction of your date is a reliable tried and tested method of letting him know that you are interested. Don’t allow your phone to be the pesky third wheel on your date, whining and beeping its way into both your thoughts until you aren’t even listening to the face to face conversation taking place.
Can You Say Something About It?
It’s a tricky situation. You don’t want to sound old fashioned, or like a nag, asking him to please turn off his phone, nor do you want to spend the rest of the evening listening to his Blackberry keyboard tapping away. It’s reasonable to want your date’s full attention, yet you don’t know him well enough to modify his personal habits. What should you do?
Here are a few subtle tactics to try:
If he acts like he’s not enjoying the interruptions any more than you are, you can smile in agreement and say, “That’s why I turned mine off.” Then maybe he’ll do the same.
If she acts like it’s no big deal that her phone is constantly interrupting your conversation, and she’s taking calls and answering the texts, you could make a pointed comment such as, “Wow, you’re popular.” If you’re lucky she’ll get the hint.
Or try the slightly harder hitting: “I’d really like to get to know you. Can we have a phones-off date?” A variation on this would be to mention it at the beginning of date number two, if there is one.
When You’re The Problem
Are you the one with the phone addiction, worried about how to curb your calls and texts? Try these tips:
1) Put your phone on vibrate – it’s the least you can do.
2) Check your messages when you go to the bathroom or excuse yourself from the table to send a text. This way at least you are being respectful of the space you share.
3) If there’s something urgent, inform your date beforehand that there is an important call you’re waiting for. That way you’re sparing them the element of surprise (and annoyance.)
Relationships are all about communication, not communication devices. The bottom line is that when you bring your technology on your date, you run the risk of not being attentive. Physically, you’re there. Mentally, you’re not. And if you’re looking for a real connection, that’s just not good enough.