Sex advice with Suzi Godson: Husband’s use of smartphone during sex is unreasonable

Q: My husband is obsessed with his mobile phone and has it in his hand almost every waking moment. Recently things have become even worse and he picks it up as soon as we have finished having sex. He has even reached out to check it a few times during the act. I’m furious. How can I make him see that his behaviour is unreasonable?”

A: If a man can’t get through sex without checking his phone, there is obviously something wrong. But what? The most obvious paranoia is infidelity, but people who are being unfaithful guard their mobile phone with their lives, and even the dopiest cheater would be smart enough to avoid looking at a notification that came in while he was having sex with his wife.

While one can never completely rule it out, it is much more likely that your husband’s routine “habit checking” has got so out of hand that he feels rising panic if he can’t look at his phone. That might sound far-fetched, but research by Nancy A Cheever, a professor of communication at California State University, confirms that heavy users of smartphones experience separation anxiety, marked by physiological increases in heart rate and blood pressure, if they are unexpectedly parted from their phones.

The obvious solution is to insist that you and your husband turn yours off when you are having sex. That really shouldn’t be a big deal, particularly because you are not asking him to ignore it for hours and hours.

Your husband is, of course, not the only offender. We all check our phones too much. A 2013 Harris Interactive survey of US mobile-phone habits found that three quarters of smartphone users are within 5ft of their devices most of the time and 73% feel panicked if they misplace their phone.

Anxiety around smartphones has led to a raft of scary-sounding nomenclature, from nomophobia (the fear of being without a mobile device) to phantom vibration syndrome (where someone mistakenly thinks their phone is vibrating or ringing), but there is, as yet, no word to describe the one in 10 (and the one in five aged 18 to 34), who, like your husband, have used their smartphone during sex. It is a shocking statistic, but it confirms that his behaviour is not the norm and the majority of adults still draw a line at checking a mobile phone during sex.

Explain to him that doing this destroys the intimacy of the moment, and that it leaves you feeling angry and resentful.

Mobile phone’s are great, but we need to manage the impact that they have on our lives.

In his interview-based study of the role of smartphones in our sexual and romantic lives, Dr Mark McCormack, a senior lecturer in sociology at Durham University, highlighted how the majority of people who value technology in their lives are simultaneously frustrated by the tensions and social distance that it can cause in their relationships. One female participant in the study described a situation that you and most readers will recognise: “I’ll be on Facebook and he’ll be on a sporting app while we are in bed; then we realise that we are literally sitting in bed together, but living in different worlds.”

Of the 30 participants, 15 said that smartphones had impacted their sexual relationships and 12 had even delayed sex because they were on their phone. One admitted making her partner wait because she was in the middle of a game of Candy Crush. Who said romance was dead?

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