The creation of portable technology, social media, and smart devices was supposed to bring us closer to one another. Years later, the continuous and constant stream of new things to see and people to talk to seem to be nothing more than vapid distractions and a means of receiving instant gratification. Rather than giving us the ability to gain empathy and an open mindset by connecting us with people all over the world, screens provide a shield for which people can hide behind.

So, how, exactly is technology changing our real world relationships?

Divided Attention

While our partners should not expect to be the constant center of attention, we owe them more attention than we give our phones and devices. It’s quite common these days to see a couple engaged in conversation while talking, but experts say this as healthy as it appears.

Eye contact and listening cues are incredibly important to effective communication. When someone is looking at their phone instead of looking at us, it can often send the wrong message: that whatever is on the phone is more important than what we have to say.

Limits New Experiences

While there is nothing wrong with nights spent in, watching a movie, and cuddling, couples who regularly engage in new activities and experiences are found to be happier than those who stick to routines.

Technology has allowed us to experience many of the wonders of the world straight from the comfort of our beds or couches, but they don’t give us the opportunity to truly live such moments. Putting down the phone and spending quality time with your partner is invaluable and will make your relationship stronger as a result.

Creates Resentment

Yes, it is possible to feel jealousy and resentment towards an inanimate object—in fact, it’s quite normal now. In a study conducted on U.S. college couples, “People who felt that their partners were overly dependent on their devices said they were less satisfied in their relationship.”

People who claimed a high dependence on their smartphone were less certain about their relationships. When our partners continuously use their cell phones in ways that intercept effective communication, resentment and jealousy can build.

While technology is certainly advancing us as a society, it’s important to take a step back and contemplate whether or not it’s making us better humans and partners. If we realize that we have a true dependence on our devices steps should be taken so that the people in our lives do not suffer as a consequence. The people we love should never come in second to an inanimate object, even if it can talk back to us.