Scrolling in the sheets: Experts reveal how phone use beds trouble for relationships

In the quiet of the evening, when the day's hustle has settled into a whisper, many find solace in the soft glow of our smartphone screens.

However, what seems like a harmless scroll through social media or a quick check of the news before bed could be silently chipping away at the foundation of our most intimate relationships.

According to relationship experts, this nighttime ritual might be doing more harm than good to our love lives.

The bedroom, traditionally a sanctuary for couples to connect and communicate after a long day, is increasingly becoming a place of digital distraction.

According to experts cited by The New York Post, the habit of silently swiping on your phone while lying next to your partner, known as ‘parallel scrolling’, could spell trouble for your relationship.

Experts warned that 'parallel scrolling', or using your phone in bed next to your partner, could harm your relationship. Credits: Shutterstock

Couples and family therapist Tracy Ross observed the detrimental effects firsthand.

‘You're basically decreasing the chances of intimacy and affection, or just generally engaging with your partner,’ Ms Ross explained.

‘Connection is critical for a strong relationship—and it needs to happen regularly, without fail, for a couple to thrive.’

According to Ms Ross, lying in bed could be an opportunity for couples to connect, something many couples lack.

Many of Ms Ross's clients voiced frustrations about their partners being ‘constantly on their phone’ or appearing ‘distracted’, which can lead to feelings of neglect and create a sense of ‘more separateness’ within the relationship.

‘While the need to unwind at the end of the day is completely understandable, it’s hard to deny the damage it can do to a relationship,’ she said.

Meanwhile, psychotherapist Aimee Hartstein acknowledged that it may be unrealistic to expect couples to completely abandon their phones for the entire evening.

‘Like it or not, our phones are here to stay, and it's an unusual couple who will put them away for the entire night,’ she admitted.

‘It’s a way people get their news, talk to friends and are entertained. If a couple is happy in the relationship, it’s probably not the problem.’

However, it's essential to recognise when phone use becomes excessive or intrusive.

Ms Ross suggested couples inquire about each other's phone habits and propose shared activities as an alternative to screen time.

‘Ask yourself if you are using the phone to avoid your partner—and if so, what could that be about?’ Ms Ross advised, noting that screens could sometimes serve as an avoidance tactic.

‘Habits tend to stick, and unless we actively try to change them, they persevere.’

To combat the potential rift caused by phones, experts recommended setting screen limits, such as no phones during dinner or designating screen-free days.

If setting boundaries around phone use seems too daunting, Hartstein proposed ‘parallel play’ as a compromise.

This involves engaging with whatever the other person is viewing on their screen, whether it's a video game livestream or a social media feed.

‘People often do better scrolling in bed at night when they are sharing what they are doing,’ Hartstein explained.

‘If you read each other bits from the news or show each other funny pet memes, then you're still scrolling but also connecting to one another. That's the goal.’

As we delve into the consequences of late-night phone scrolling on relationships, it's crucial to acknowledge the broader shifts occurring within couples' sleeping habits.

An emerging trend known as ‘sleep divorce’ has garnered attention, highlighting a departure from traditional notions of sharing a bed.

While initially seeming counterintuitive to fostering intimacy, this separation during sleep has been touted for its surprising benefits.
Key Takeaways

  • Scrolling on your phone while in bed next to your partner, known as ‘parallel scrolling,’ could harm your relationship according to experts.
  • The act could decrease the chances of intimacy and connection, which is essential for a strong relationship.
  • It's recommended that you inquire about phone use with your partner and find activities to do together instead of screen time.
  • Setting screen limits and engaging in ‘parallel play’ by sharing content could help couples connect despite screen use.
Have you experienced the impact of ‘parallel scrolling’ in your relationships? How do you balance screen time and quality time with your partner? Share your thoughts and tips in the comments below!
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100% phones should be turned of a a specific time every day.
Turn phones off and into the charging cradle when we decide it’s bed time. No need for devices in the bedroom.

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