How the lack of attention in relationships slowly disintegrates it
Your time and attention is one of the most vital things you can give your partner when in a relationship, a lack of which can end up in feelings of emptiness, isolation and heartbreak.
Paying attention to your partner shows your sincerity and interest towards them. If your partner feels acknowledged and seen by you, they will feel happier and put even more effort into the relationship.
Attention is one of the things that can make or break your relationship.
The quality and quantity of attention each romantic partner gives their relationship influences the satisfaction both partners feel in the relationship.
“One of the most important things people get is attention. Attention, interest in you…curiosity about… who are you, the stuff that couples neglect in their relationships.” – Esther Perel, an interview on The Armchair Expert.
Imagine that each day you wake up with an allowance of attention to dedicate to people or things in your life. On the days when you’ve had a good night’s rest, you may have more. On the days when you worked 10 to 14 hours the day before, you may have less.
How you budget this attention matters. If there is too little attention directed at your romantic relationship then the flames of love fade. Poor quality of attention, such as barely listening because you are focused on social media, also costs the relationship
Today more than ever we are inundated with constant and captivating messages, posts, and videos that, while sometimes valuable, can distract us from the most important relationship in our life.
“Here’s what I find to be so heartbreaking about divorce…in many of these cases with my friends, the dad has the kids half the week and the mom has the other half of the week, and I look at that, and I think, ‘Isn’t it heartbreaking that they had to separate so that each person could get 3 and a half days of their own life back, and that they couldn’t have just said, ‘We’ve got to figure out how to get a day or two of our life back within this…”
“[And after divorce] Now they can give that time to someone else; each of those people can give 3 and a half days of their week to some other person that didn’t build all that with them, and that person receives that, yet their poor partner, that was never an option.” – Dax Shepard, the Armchair Expert Host
Just as when investing money in your retirement, attention needs to be dedicated to your relationship to keep it thriving. Here are some of the common problems that create a lack of attention in relationships.
The Not-Paying-Attention Problem
Have you ever had your partner “uh-huh” you when you were sharing something as they stared at their cell phone?
Then you ask, “What did I just say?” and they look up in guilt, having no clue what you said.
Currently, the technology in our lives is becoming an every-waking-moment activity. The constant waves of information, cats-jumping-in-fear-of-cucumber videos, and friends posting on social media have led to our devices transforming our lovers into the third wheel in their own relationship.
In the current attention economy, our brains are being primed to addictively checking our devices to monitor our email, social media accounts, and various apps. Sadly, while writing this very paragraph, I caught myself reaching for my phone three times.
Our devices make it difficult to focus our attention on what matters. This is because marketers have created captivating content that pulls us into a void of spending our energy on entertainment that is only a finger tap away.
If electronic devices are a problem in your relationship, visit here.
In Wired for Love, Stan Tatkin states that “partners should prevent each other from being the third wheel when relating to [devices].”
If your partner thinks it is a problem and you don’t, then it’s a problem and something you need to take seriously. Read why here: Two Experiences in a Relationship
Attention Fatigue = Relationship Fatigue
Part of what our technology is bringing to our awareness is the cost of attention fatigue. Every day you and I have a finite amount of focused attention. The more our attention is spent outside of the relationship, the less we have for our relationship.