Have you ever checked your Instagram screen time and been taken aback or gone down the rabbit hole of your favorite influencer’s Pinterest board for hours? It’s moments like these to be aware of, especially during these difficult times where we find ourselves “doomscrolling” through content.
In a culture powered by likes, clicks, and shares, it’s easy to stay plugged into your personal device and social media platforms. Yet, more often than not, this popular technology can become a barrier in getting to know new people and forming lasting relationships.
That’s not to say that in an era of digital dating all technology is bad, but rather, that limiting the use of and occasionally unplugging from apps like Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat can have a significantly positive impact on your interactions with a new S.O. or date.
Here are a few key reasons why taking more time away from social media can help your dating life and your mental health.
1. You’re More Present in Face-To-Face Interactions
During the COVID-19 pandemic, phones and video calls became the primary way we stayed connected with potential S.O.’s. In fact, Plenty of Fish research found that before social isolation, only 26 percent of singles had video chatted with a prospective date, while now, 60 percent of singles are more likely to use video chat with a potential date.
Slow your scroll to develop a deeper connection with dates in your virtual face-to-face interactions and reap the benefits:
“You can see body language, which is an important part of a conversation. The facial expression often communicates more than words, so there is less of a likelihood of you misinterpreting what someone is saying. This helps build a better connection and encourages stronger relationships,” explains health experts at A Healthier Michigan.
2. You Have a Better Attention Span
Having thousands of ideas available to us via our cell phone can be incredibly valuable—with Google at your fingertips, you can always be learning. However, have you ever considered how this vast library of information can hurt your focus and drive guilt?
In, Social Media and Health, The Good, The Bad, and the Future, HealthMarkets suggests: “As more and more information is hurled at us more frequently and in new, more invasive ways, our attention span diminishes while we simultaneously feel guilty for not being able to keep up.”
If you’ve ever noticed yourself listening to your date, while simultaneously lighting up your phone to check for likes on your new Instagram post, you may be struggling with that shortened digital attention span. By logging off regularly, you’re able to stay more focused on what’s right in front of you and be attentive when talking to your S.O. or going on a virtual date.
3. You Gain Time for New Hobbies
Between Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, and Twitter, it’s likely that what started as a “quick check” turned into an hour-long experience trip down the social media hole. When you limit the time you spend on social media, you hone in on our time management skills, which leaves time to dabble in new hobbies—it’s easy to make a good first impression with a date when you’ve got some new activities or talents to share!
Plus, when joining a virtual networking group, club or league, you may even meet that person you want to give your full attention to!
4. You Become a Better Listener
There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to carry a conversation with someone scrolling through their Facebook feed. While you’re telling a story, they’re skimming through photos and updates—and clearly not listening.
Quara Contributor, Shovan Chowdhury told HuffPost about how her listening improved when she unplugged from social media: “I can talk to people with full concentration, listen to every word, maintain eye contact, and give an appropriate response while communicating with other people.”
While these seem like small shifts, they make all the difference when connecting with someone new. You want them to know you’re present and involved. Even on digital dates, the same rules apply as a date out at a restaurant: put your phone away and stay focused on the conversation happening in front of you.
5. You’re Less Stressed and Susceptible to Social Pressure
Do you scroll through the filtered feed of Instagram and feel that comparisonitis coming up? You’re not alone. In a recent survey, as reported by Inc., 67 percent of millennials said they felt, “extreme pressure to succeed” as a result of their social media intake:
“Millennials came of age during the era of social media, and a large number of survey respondents pointed out the fact that social media was a trigger – seeing how well everyone else seemed to be doing often had them feel worse, and like they had to do more to catch up.”
The FOMO is real—but the thing is, when you’re stressed, you’re not bringing the best version of you to your dating life. You’re distracted, your energy isn’t the same, and you aren’t able to show who you really are. When unplugging, you can tap back into who you are and what makes you happy to show your dates the real you.
Step back from your phone, slow your scroll, and start getting more present, whether you’re on a date or just casually talking with people. When you’re stressed out, feeling FOMO, and not being a good listener, you’re making it harder to truly connect and get the most from meeting new people. Don’t let social media wreck your dating life. Put the phone down, open your heart, and let the real you shine.