The Role of Technology in Your Relationship

Technology, for better or for worse, has become a part of everyday life. Some people even desire the use of their phone over sex. In a recent survey, 15% of respondents said they would rather give up sex than go without their iPhone for a weekend. Needless to say, I’m surprised. How is it that we have allowed technology to take precedence over our sex lives?

As you read this on your phone or computer, have you ever considered how technology functions in your relationships? Is it under control or have you allowed it to function uncontrollably in your relationship? I encourage you to have a “Technology Talk” with your partner to discuss technological boundaries, which can then help to prevent technology from running rampant and fueling arguments in your relationship.

To help guide your Technology Talk, consider the following:

Where Can You Use Technology?

In the same survey mentioned above, 25% of the respondents said they “almost always” use their phones in a social setting. How do you feel about where you or your partner can use the phone or computer? Is it OK to use the cell phone at the dinner table or when you are with family? You may even be like the 85% of respondents who have used their iPhone while in the bathroom (don’t scoff, I know you’ve done it), but how long do you spend checking Facebook? Five minutes? An hour?

Importantly, do you consider it is OK to check e-mail or Facebook on your phone or computer in the bed? Although I advocate for using a phone, computer or TV to watch porn while in bed, I suggest the bed become a tech-free zone. Otherwise, you or your partner might look at Facebook for an hour instead of having an awesome sex or cuddle session.

How Often/Much Can You Use Technology?

Not only is discussing tech-free zones a good idea, but it is also valuable to discuss the time spent using technology. While you may decide with your partner that technology is permissible in the bedroom, is there a time limit? I know it sounds silly to set a time limit but I am sure we have all experienced being sucked into Facebook land with no awareness of how much time has passed. I’m not saying you can never check your phone when you’re with your partner, that would be unreasonable. Rather, I suggest you be cognizant about how your time on the phone or computer is eating away at the time you spend with your partner. If you aren’t careful, your partner may start to feel like the third-wheel to your phone.

Who Can You Chat With Using Technology?

In addition to discussing technology-permissible zones and times, it is vital that you also discuss the “who” when it comes to interacting with people through technology. Many of us have set boundaries for what we consider cheating when it comes to physical touch, such as a kiss or having sex, but have you discussed the boundaries when it comes to e-mails, phone calls, texts, etc.? Chatting with someone even though it’s not face-to-face can be a sticky area. Maybe you decide communication via technology is OK but the content may determine whether the line has been crossed. It is up to you and your partner to decide what is acceptable in your relationship.


Although we sit down with technology nearly everyday, it is important to sit down with your partner and decide when, how often, where and with whom it is OK to use and communicate via technology. Be reasonable, be prepared to make some compromises, and revisit the topic every so often because opinions may change. Once you have set these guidelines, it will be easier to feel comfortable about the role technology plays in your relationship and not feel like you are being replaced by your partner’s phone.

Dr. Chelsea Holland

Chelsea Holland, DHS is a sex educator and counselor based in Colorado. She is also a blogger at SEXuality Education from Dr. Chelsea. She helps individuals, partners, and groups regardless of their sexual orientation, sexual interests, ability, and age with concerns and questions around their sexuality and relationships. Further, she uses her open-minded, sex-positive, and nonjudgmental approach to help individuals become aware and accepting of who they are, to learn to be authentic in society about who they are, and to gain the skills that will help them develop and maintain positive relationships that are accepting of the individual's authenticity.

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