Home Health Relationship Pressure To Always Be Digitally Available: Here’s How To Handle It

Relationship Pressure To Always Be Digitally Available: Here’s How To Handle It

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Still, after putting these safeguards in place, she still concedes that technology making us more available to each other is a problem. “I struggle to hear my phone go off and not grab it immediately,” she says.

This pressure seems to be something of a gendered issue, with more women than men reporting that they feel pressure to be digitally available – 46% of females say they feel pressure to reply instantly to incoming messages and calls.

It’s an issue that has hit Gen Z hard – 44% of 16-24 year olds say that not responding on the phone can cause arguments – but affects millennials and Gen Xers too. 

“I’ve had to step away from a bunch of group WhatsApps at the moment,” Claire, 42, tells GLAMOUR. “I find constant chat, opinions and thoughts overwhelming, as well as the need to stay on top of it all.” She also worries that these actions – which are ultimately motivated by self care – might impact her relationships.

“I do worry it’s going to mean I’m not as close to some friends, as the group text is the norm when it comes to communication,” she says.

Soma, 38, is quick to point out that it’s just as easy to be the person who expects too much availability too, and she’s found herself pressuring friends into contact as well as snapping when a notification flashes up when she’s overwhelmed or stressed. “If I feel overwhelmed I now send a text saying I am feeling overstretched and will be in touch soon,” she says.

So how can we navigate this pressure to be digitally available? Psychologist Joanna Konstantopoulou has given GLAMOUR some top tips.

Set firm boundaries so your loved ones know what to expect

“It may feel like a wonderful thing to be readily available, just a phone call or message away from your nearest and dearest. However, the issue with this is that you are setting up unrealistic expectations about your availability,” Konstantopoulou says. 

“Set firm boundaries with your friends and family,” she advises. “Emphasise how much you enjoy your contact with them but set aside an hour’s time slot each day when you can take or return calls and messages. 

“Don’t be tempted to respond to texts or messages outside that time slot, unless it’s an emergency.”

Build some structured space between you and your phone to decrease FOMO

“Fear of missing out (FOMO) is a real issue that many individuals struggle with,” Konstantopoulou explains. “Being consistently connected to friends and family can make taking a break feel like too big a challenge as you may miss out on something important.”

She advises gradually reducing the amount of time you use your phone for social interactions, and being intentional and specific about it.

“Set aside specific times when you will allow yourself to check social media and messages, so you can focus on what you are doing,” she says. “Start off by checking every half hour then each day gradually move it to one hour, then two hours and so on until you reach the point where you’re barely looking at your phone at all.”

Reclaim your participation in your IRL daily routine 

“Strangely, being always online can actually make you less socially active in the real world,” Konstantopoulou says.  “If you feel like you need to make yourself always available for people on social media or via text message, then you may find you are less likely to engage with real-life events or find that you are always on your phone rather than living in the moment.”

“This can lead to so many missed opportunities, and make your friends and family feel less valued.”

To ensure you don’t fall into this trap, be intentional about when you use social media, i.e not when you’re in the company of those you love. Concentrate on being present in the moment, and stress to family and friends that this is the best way to reach you. 

“Leave social media for your free time if possible and only respond to your posts from your family and closest friends,” Konstantopoulou suggests. She stresses it’s also important to acknowledge how hard disconnecting can be in modern society, but that makes prioritising it even more important – for yourself and your relationships.

“Taking some time away from the digital world in order to make real connections can be difficult but vital for easing the mental strain associated with constant connection.”


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