People are obsessed with their smartphones – in fact, a recent survey showed more than three-quarters of Brits feel anxious or extremely anxious if they’re ever without their phone.

Relationships on Female First

Relationships on Female First

This fear of being without a smartphone is starting to affect people’s relationships, and a third of people say they have to fight with a connected device for their partner’s attention.

Every detail of our lives is now stored in our handsets and despite the growing risk of other people seeing or even stealing our most confidential information, phones have become behavioural comfort blankets.

But all is not lost. Following these simple steps will help stop smartphones from becoming the third wheel in relationships.

Set achievable goals when reducing your smartphone use

There may well be significant withdrawal symptoms when parted from your phone for the first time, so start with something that does seem achievable. For example, not taking it into the bathroom or the gym with you, would be a good start.

Make switching-off social

It’s sad when you see a long-term couple on date night and they both start checking their phones. This sort of ‘social isolation’ is like a Mexican wave – it just takes one partner to pick their phone up and due to FOMO, suddenly their lover is doing it too. Be bold and make a pact with your significant other that while you’re together, you’ll turn your phones OFF.

Date the person in front of you, not your phone

When you’re on a date, come to a mutual agreement that you will only check your phones every hour, if needs be. No phones on the table and nothing vibrating in your pocket either! You are on a date to make a connection with someone new or new-ish – and getting to know them, rather than what else is going on in the world.

Recognise the triggers

What makes you reach for your smartphone? Perhaps you want to avoid a certain conversation, feel under pressure to know what’s happening on social media or are waiting for a ‘really important’ message or call. If you’re on a date, try to enjoy the moment, the real-time social interaction and not think about what anyone else is up to.

Curb your FOMO and take back some control

With increasing numbers of apps and information sources on your smartphone, it is designed to control your life. Realising that it’s impossible to stay on top of everything and that there are alternative, real-time social or romantic activities that will give you equal pleasure – and ultimately less stress – can actually feel liberating.

Written by Jo Hemmings, Psychologist with McAfee