SAN FRANCISCO, California — Technology has fundamentally changed relationships.
Those little devices in our pockets have altered the way relationships form, how couples interact and what expectations they have for each other.
Dr. John Gottman, widely known as "the man who can predict divorce," and his wife, Dr. Julie Gottman, are clinical psychologists who founded The Gottman Institute and spent four decades researching marriage, divorce and how couples communicate.
The Gottmans recently talked about technology and relationships during the 10th annual Wisdom 2.0 conference in Silicon Valley — a conference focused on finding ways for people to connect through technology using positive habits.
Here are five ways tech can affect relationships in the modern age, according to the Gottmans:
1. Pornography is a pressing concern in relationships
Julie Gottman describes pornography as the most pressing concern from tech in relationships.
“It lacks emotional intimacy,” she said, and can create unrealistic expectations from partners. Couples should communicate about their needs and concerns around pornography.
2. Use texting to enhance your relationship
Cellphones have allowed couples to be in greater contact.
“You can (text) sporadically throughout the day,” Julie Gottman said. But she cautioned that texting “enables connection, but not deep connection.”
3. Watch out for “sneak working”
Technology has extended the workday and made it hard to disconnect. Even when couples are together, one may be “sneak working” — or working when they are with their partner.
Dr. Rachel Adams, co-author of "The Man's Guide to Women" with the Gottmans, recommended being clear when you’re going to work and for how long. Communicate at the beginning of the evening what you need to finish and when you’ll be done, she said. One partner may feel neglected and ignored if another couple continues to work during time reserved for the two.
4. Watch out for red flags when meeting online
When meeting a potential partner online, it can be difficult to truly know who they are. Julie Gottman lists five red flags for meeting and dating someone online:
- Someone who doesn’t ask questions about you or doesn't answers questions about themself
- Someone who blames others in past relationships
- Someone who mistreats servers or support staff on dates
- Someone who repeatedly criticizes or displays contempt
- Someone who doesn't listen to your answers to questions
5. Don’t rely on personality types when finding a relationship
Personality types like Myers-Briggs are a popular option for people searching for partners online. Some individuals even list their Myers-Briggs personality type on their dating profiles.
“There is no evidence that matching works on personality types,” said John Gottman. The Big 5 personality types can help people understand themselves, but they won’t help them find a perfect mate, he said.
Julie Gottman does not suggest focusing too much on compatibility while dating. Dating apps are often set up around hobbies and interests, but that does not necessarily mean connection will happen, she said.
“Compatibility does not make a good relationship,” she added. “Ask, ‘Can they talk to you? Can you laugh with that individual?'”