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How to Finally Stop Fighting About the Phone

How to Finally Stop Fighting About the Phone

Technology is intended to connect us. We text, FaceTime, ping, post, tweet, and snap in seconds to anyone, anywhere. It’s supposed to make us feel closer. However, these days, technology is eating away at personal, intimate relationships. It’s increasing distance and contributing to numerous misunderstandings between partners.

Someone is on their phone when their partner takes issue with it and the conflict quickly begins: “Why are you on that thing, again?” “I was only on it for two seconds, what’s your problem?” “I told you I was going to have to check my email for work, why are you getting on my case?” “Will you relax? It’s just a quick text message. God!”

You’re not really fighting about the phone.

It’s not about the phone. It’s about two issues the phone is coming to represent: control in the relationship and exiting from the relationship.

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1. Control

When someone’s fighting with you and defending their screen time, it’s typically not because they really, really want/need to be on the phone at that exact minute. What they really, really don’t want is to feel controlled. They are reacting to the idea that you are telling them what they can or cannot do in that moment. They’re fighting against the restriction and against the limit.

They are also fighting against and defending themselves from the stories that you are creating about their use of screen time: They are just tuned out. They’re lazy, they don’t care. They resent the implications made about their phone time and seek to defend it. This is usually because they typically pick up their phone mindlessly and out of habit. They have no ill intent when they pick it up to just check something really quick” and they resent the implication that it’s about anything else.

2. Exiting

When you’re with your partner and you’re having a fine time laughing, joking, or hanging out and they suddenly pick up their phone, it can be jarring. It can trigger a quick, knee jerk reaction that can surprise you with its intensity. Suddenly, something so small has a lot of power in your relationship.

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It can take your partner away from you. It can interrupt a nice, close moment. Your partner is right there with you one moment and then, POOF! They’re gone – even if they remain in the same room with you. In that moment, intended or not, it feels like your partner has abruptly exited the relationship. It’s as if they’ve left the house suddenly without saying good-bye.

That quick disconnect is so sudden that it’s jarring and suddenly you’re fighting about the pinging sound from something no more than 6 inches big only to hear What? It’s a commercial break. I was just checking my mail.” Your partner may have indeed only been checking their email in the commercial break of your favorite television show but it felt like an exit and you fought because of the disconnect you suddenly were experiencing.

What feels like control is actually about respect.

Here’s the thing. If you’re choosing to be in a committed relationship with someone, you simply do not get to do whatever it is you want at the exact moment you want to do it. Relationships don’t work that way. You’re going to be limited and restricted in what it is you want to do based on how the other person thinks or feels.

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It’s disrespectful and rude to just disconnect with your device whenever you want without checking in or touching base about it. If your partner has a problem with something you’re doing, you both have a problem until you can come to some kind of agreement.

Like it or not, you have to make an agreement.

Couples typically fight about anything they don’t have an agreement about beforehand. It’s just easier to navigate situations when you’re on the same page beforehand. That’s how you know how much you can spend, who’s doing what chore, etc. You find yourself fighting when there is no agreement or when the agreement is broken without word or warning.

Making an agreement about the phone and screen time is going to feel like you’re being controlled.

Get over it.

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At some point, it’ll be your partner who wants to just check something quick right when you’re starting to settle in and enjoy your time together and you’ll be glad to have an agreement.

  • What times do you already agree are unplugged?
  • Is there a time of day you can both agree to be unplugged? I like to recommend the last hour or two before a couple goes to bed as unplugged time.
  • Can you turn the sound off at times so you’re deciding together when one or both of you is going to check their gadgets but otherwise are uninterrupted?
  • With the exception of an alarm for waking up, can the bedroom be an unplugged zone?
  • Can mealtimes be unplugged?
  • What’s the rule when you’re in the car? If one of you is driving and the other person is on their phone, that can feel disjointed for some but no big deal for others. Where do you guys stand?
  • When you’re hanging out together, can you both agree to quickly check with the other person before you pick up the phone to text or get online? It won’t feel like an exit if you check before leaving.
  • What are the issues that have already come up for the two of you? If you’re consistently fighting about phone time during certain activities or times of day, check in and have an agreement.

Acknowledge when you’re asking for an exception.

A friend and I like to text one another when we’re watching a certain show. It’s a fun, memory making time for us but it’s also during the unplugged time my husband and I have agreed on. I don’t get to just turn on my phone and start texting her without checking in with him and saying something. We might have to struggle through the discussion a bit because he doesn’t get why it’s important to me but we’re less likely to fight and more apt to reach a compromise if we discuss it.

Take care of the relationship and everything else will follow.

No one wants to feel controlled. No one wants to be accused of exiting from the relationship just because they’ve picked up their phone but those feelings are real and they need to be attended to. Come together and make an agreement that feels right for both of you. It won’t be iron tight but it’s a start. Take care of your relationship and it’ll take care of you.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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Last Updated on July 8, 2020

How to Say No When You Say Yes Too Often

How to Say No When You Say Yes Too Often

Do you say yes so often that you realize you aren’t really happy about this, wondering how to say no to people?

For years, I was a serial people pleaser. Known as someone who would step up, I would gladly make time especially when it came to volunteering for certain causes. I proudly carried this role all through grade school, college, even through law school. For years, I thought saying “no” meant I would disappoint a good friend or someone I respected.

But somewhere along the way, I noticed I wasn’t quite living my life. Instead, I seem to have created a schedule that was a strange combination of meeting the expectations of others, what I thought I should be doing, and some of what I actually wanted to do. The result? I had a packed schedule that left me overwhelmed and unfulfilled.

It took a long while but I learned the art of saying no. Saying ‘no’ meant I no longer catered fully to everyone else’s needs and could make more room for what I really wanted to do. Instead of cramming too much in, I chose to pursue what really mattered. I started to manage my time more around my own needs and interests. When that happened, I became a lot happier. And guess what? I hardly disappointed anyone.

The Importance of Saying No

When you learn the art of saying ‘no,’ you begin to look at the world differently. Rather than seeing all of the things you could or should be doing (and aren’t doing), you start to look at how to say yes to what’s important.

In other words, you aren’t just reacting to what life throws at you. You seek the opportunities that move you to where you want to be.

Successful people aren’t afraid to say no. Oprah Winfrey considered one of the most successful women in the world confessed that it was much later in life when she learned how to say no. Even after she had become internationally famous, she felt she had to say yes to virtually everything. It was only when she realized that after years of struggling with saying no, I finally got to this question: “What do I want?”

Being able to say no also helps you manage your time better.

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Warren Buffett views no as essential to his success. He said,

“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”

When I made ‘no’ a part of my toolbox, I drove more of my own success focusing on fewer things and doing them well.

How We Are Pressured to Say Yes

It’s no wonder a lot of us find it hard to say ‘no.’

From an early age, we are conditioned to say ‘yes.’ We said yes probably hundreds of time in order to graduate from high school and then get into college. We said yes to find work. We said yes get a promotion. We said yes to find love and then yes again to stay in a relationship. We said yes to find and keep friends.

We say yes because it feels better to help someone. We say yes because it can seem like the right thing to do. We say yes because we think that is key to success. And we say yes because the request might come from someone who is hard to resist like the boss.

And that’s not all. The pressure to say yes doesn’t just come from others. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves. At work, we say yes because we compare ourselves to others who seem to be doing more than we are. Outside of work, we say yes because we feel guilty we aren’t doing enough to spend time with family or friends.

The message no matter where we turn is nearly always, “You really could be doing more.” The result? When people ask us for our time, we are heavily conditioned to say yes.

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How to Say No Without Feeling Guilty

Deciding to add the word ‘no’ to your toolbox is no small thing. Perhaps you already say ‘no’ but not as much as you would like. Maybe you have an instinct that if you were to learn the art of ‘no’ that you could finally create more time for things you care about. But let’s be honest, using the word ‘no’ doesn’t come easily for many people.

The 3 Rules of Thumbs for Saying No

1. You Need to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

Let’s face it. It is hard to say no. Setting boundaries around your time especially you haven’t done it much in the past will feel awkward.

2. You Are the Air Traffic Controller of Your Time

Remember that you are the only one who understands the demands for your time. Think about it, who else knows about all of the demands on your time? No one. Only you are at the center of all of these requests. are the only one that understands what time you really have.

3. Saying ‘No’ Means Saying ‘Yes’ to Something That Matters

When we decide not to do something, it means we can say yes to something else. You have a unique opportunity to decide how you spend your precious time.

6 Ways to Start Saying No

Incorporating that little word ‘no’ into your life can be transformational. Turning some things down will mean you can open doors to what really matters. Here are some essential tips to learn the art of no:

1. Check in With Your Obligation Meter

One of the biggest challenges to saying ‘no’ is a feeling of obligation. Do you feel you have a responsibility to say yes and worry that saying no reflect poorly on you?

Ask yourself whether you truly have the duty to say yes. Check your assumptions or beliefs about whether you carry the responsibility to say yes. Turn it around and instead ask what duty you owe to yourself.

2. Resist the Fear of Missing out (FOMO)

Do you have a fear of missing out (FOMO)? FOMO can follow us around in so many ways. At work, we volunteer our time because we fear we won’t move ahead. In our personal lives, we agree to join the crowd because FOMO even while we ourselves aren’t enjoying the fun.

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Check in with yourself. Are you saying yes because of FOMO or because you really want to say yes? More often than not, running after fear doesn’t make us feel better.

3. Check Your Assumptions About What It Means to Say ‘No’

Do you dread the reaction you will get if you say no? Often, we say ‘yes’ because we worry about how others will respond or the consequences of saying no or because of the consequences. We may be afraid to disappoint others or think we will lose respect from others. We often forget how much we are disappointing ourselves along the way.

Keep in mind that saying ‘no’ can be exactly what is needed to send the right message that you have limited time. In the tips below, you will see how to communicate your no in a gentle and loving way. You might disappoint someone initially but drawing a boundary can bring you the freedom you need so that you can give freely of yourself when you truly want to.

4. When the Request Comes In, Sit on It

Sometimes, when we are in the moment, we instinctively agree. The request might make sense at first. Or we typically have said yes to this request in the past.

Give yourself a little time to reflect on whether you really have the time, or can do the task properly. You may decide the best option is to say ‘no.’ There is no harm in giving yourself the time to decide.

5. Communicate Your ‘No’ with Transparency and Kindness

When you are ready to tell someone no, communicate your decision clearly. The message can be open and honest to ensure the recipient that your reasons have to do with your limited time.

Resist the temptation not to respond or communicate all. But do not feel obligated to provide a lengthy account about why you are saying no.

A clear communication with a short explanation is all that is needed. I have found it useful to tell people that I have many demands and need to be careful with how I allocate my time. I will sometimes say I really appreciate that they came to me and for them to check in again if the opportunity arises another time.

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6. Consider How to Use a Modified ‘No’

If you are under pressure to say yes but want to say no, you may want to consider downgrading a “yes” to a “yes but…” giving you an opportunity to condition your agreement to what works best for you.

Sometimes, the condition can be to do the task but not in the time frame that was originally requested. Or perhaps you can do part of what has been asked.

Final Thoughts

Beginning right now, you can change how you respond to requests for your time. When the request comes in, take yourself off autopilot where you might normally say yes.

Use the request as a fresh request to draw a healthy boundary around your time. Pay particular attention to when you place certain demands on yourself. If you are the one placing the demand on yourself, try to evaluate the demand as if it were coming from somewhere else.

Try it now. Say no to a friend who continues to take advantage of your goodwill. Or, draw the line with a workaholic colleague and tell them you will complete the project but not by working all weekend. Or, tell someone in your family you can’t loan them money again because they never paid you back the last time. You’ll find yourself much happier.

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Featured photo credit: Chris Ainsworth via unsplash.com

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