Technology itself is a bystander to our lives. We choose how we want to interact with it and whether it serves as a benefit or a danger to our relationships. Here are a handful of tips for promoting healthy technological behavior in your relationship.

DO video chat when long-distance.

Being able to see and hear our partners when they are not with us is a gift of our modern technological age. For some it feels awkward, makes the distance feel farther, or too strongly highlights the difficulties in feeling connected when our partners are away. Yet video chatting can also be seen as a tool to feel closer and have more authentic communication.

You do not need to do it every night of your partner’s business trip, but checking in over video chat offers an important opportunity for intimate connection when you are separated by physical distance. Let your partner look at you, tease your partner with what awaits him or her at home, and allow yourself to appreciate this innovative means of communication.

DON’T have important discussions over text.

Text messages are inherently dangerous. They are absent of tone and inflection, easily misinterpreted, and tend to oversimplify complicated thoughts and feelings.

If you find yourself creeping into an argument with your partner via text, put the conversation on pause. Say that this is important to you and you would rather talk about it in person. Give your partner the benefit of the doubt that you may have misinterpreted sarcasm where there was not intended to be any.

DO use email to organize your thoughts.

When we are upset, it is hard for us to think straight, and we are more likely to be on the defensive. Take some time away from a heated discussion to organize your thoughts.

This does not mean to do stream-of-consciousness typing and then hit send right away. Take some time to think about your feelings, and take ownership of your role in a conflict. Read over what you have written carefully before sending anything to your partner. Many times, just the act of writing it out can be helpful, and you will not feel the need to send it, perhaps choosing to continue talking face-to-face instead.

DON’T have your phone out during couple time.

At a basic level, technology is a distraction. As much as it can link us to what is happening in the world and create a Hollywood fantasy, technology pulls us away from the present moment. This is true for everyone, and it is your responsibility to keep technology from interfering with your ability to be in the moment with your partner.

Relationships require attention and care. Make a rule to have your phone out of reach when you eat together or for a specified time each night when you focus on catching up. Set yourself up for success.

DO tease and keep in touch.

A quick text to let your partner know you are thinking of how much he or she pleased you the other night or a heads up that your meeting is running late are both effective uses of texting in healthy relationships. Technology can be a tool for sparking passion as much as it is a way to show consideration and respect for our partners. Experiment with it, go a little outside of your comfort zone, and share your positive feelings with your partner more often.

Contact Symmetry Counseling in Chicago today to be matched with a couple therapist who can help you build healthier technology habits to benefit your relationship.