Technology and Fake Love (Part 3 of 5)

Goal to Help Children Led to Specializing in Couples Therapy
By Caralee Frederic, LCSW | Certified Gottman Therapist | Couples Workshop Presenter

What happens when human connection is lost? When we become overly concerned with virtual connections? How do we fight back against obsessive technology-use in our homes? This is part 3 of a 5-part series, “Love Touches: Being Human and In Tune; Why We Need Human Connections in an Increasingly High-Tech World.” The series concludes with my ATTUNE formula to help couples and families truly connect and form lasting, loving relationships.

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Love Touches: What is Real?
I’ve been a marriage therapist for nearly 20 years and I see a growing trend in couples needing both relationship therapy and addiction recovery therapy. The trend is due to the overuse and misuse of technology’s platforms.

These platforms are fueling higher levels of addictions, such as pornography and painkillers, by making them more easily accessible – while also creating new addictions, such as gaming and social media.

Often, my clients deny they are addicted to technology or refuse to consider overuse of technology as a serious problem in their relationship. So then, what is an addiction?

While there are many clinical definitions, and constant shifting in the political climate of our field, a simple definition is: The process of using a substance or behavior to cope with or avoid pain, rather than engage in the difficult process of wrestling with and solving problems, particularly those related to relationships.

The continued reliance on that substance or behavior results in a brain disorder associated with the reward-and-choice center in the brain. The reward becomes so compelling and its immediacy so desired that our ability to choose wisely becomes weakened.

When we tap directly into the reward center of our brain, we will do anything to stimulate the pleasure center, even to the detriment of everything else. We’ll stop eating, playing, working, having sex, and even stop interacting in a meaningful relationship.

Overcoming a Technology Addiction

The first step you can take is to honestly assess your use of technology:

1. Do you often find yourself preoccupied with your technology?

2. Do you hide or downplay some of your technology use from others?

3. Has anyone been hurt emotionally because of your technology use?

4. Do the people around you become irritated by your technology use?

5. Do you feel controlled by your technology?

6. After using your technology of choice, do you ever feel depressed or irritable afterwards?

If you’ve answered “yes” to at least one question, then you are likely misusing, overusing, or even addicted to technology. Consider:

1. For what purpose are you using technology?

2. How is it distracting you? From what relationships? From what type of spiritual progress, employment or career progress, physical exercise, or social interactions?

3. How much time is it taking from your day? Do you spend equal time on other areas that you value?

4. Is it promoting feelings and actions of love, peace, goodness, kindness? Or is it promoting feelings and actions of competition, comparisons, selfishness, and contention?

Now what?

I admit that I am a “frenemy” with technology. I would love to return to the simpler life and time of the old days. However, the truth is technology gives me the opportunity to do things that were unimaginable a few years ago, like publishing this information online. Thus, I do not advocate a complete abandonment of technology.

But, we can properly use technology and be free of its addictive power.

1. Set limits on time and energy spent on technology. Know yourself. Know what healthy limits are for you. Be willing to receive the input from those around you, especially family members who are asking for your time, attention and love. Be willing to accept that you may need to go sober if you’re addicted.

2. Get help if you need it – addictions are treatable.

3. Set priorities: First, God. Second, flesh-and-blood people for whom you have stewardship (spouse, children, extended family). Third, the rest of the world, including yourself.

4. Be open to the influence of a Higher Power to guide you towards meaningful changes, and to cleanse you as you seek change.

In part 4 of my 5-part series, I provide the ATTUNE formula, a method to remove contention (bickering, rivalry, sarcasm, edgy conversation) from your home. It will help you understand how to better physically, mentally, and emotionally reach out to your partner.