Dr Michelle Drouin: how technology impacts connection, intimacy and infidelity (#43)

Technology plays a big part in our life. Television, computers, tablets and phones. If you are like me you probably have a love-hate relationship with technology. Especially when it comes to my phone: I love how it allows me to connect with almost anyone in the world, but at the same time I hate how addicted I am to my phone and how it distracts me from the people around me.  

In this episode we talk to Dr. Michelle Drouin about how technology can both help and hinder our relationships. Dr. Michelle Drouin is an internationally-recognised research psychologist, a psychology professor, forensic consultant and expert witness. She is a speaker on issues related to technology, relationships, couples, and sexuality. Dr. Drouin’s research has been featured in the many major media outlets including New York Times, CNN, NPR and Psychology Today. She has recently released a book called “Out of Touch: How to Survive an Intimacy Famine” which examines human connection and intimacy in a technological world.  

We hope you enjoy this fascinating episode with Dr Michelle Drouin. 

You can listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher and Simplecast.

Show Notes

1:53 – phantom phone vibrations.
2:35 – from development psychology to technology impact on relationships.
3:53 – is technology helpful or harmful to relationships?
7:24 – parents’ concerns about kids on technology.
9:06 – technology opens up communication with people across the world.
9:47 – phone addiction is not all bad.
11:07 – using our phones for social good.
12:56 – calling her Grandma.
14:28 – millennials are scared of phone calls.
16:10 – does talking to strangers make us happy?
21:19 – a small kindness to a stranger can make their day.
23:06 – the intimacy famine why it matters.
25:37 – the life-giving power of physical touch.
30:24 – the importance of a shared bedtime routine with your partner.
33:05 – using technology together can still build intimacy.
34:35 – rules are important to avoid conflict.
36:28 – make rules when you are calm.
38:30 – rewards are more effective than punishment to change behaviour.
40:40 – how can singles get more intimacy?
42:59 – back burners – a threat to your relationship?
48:35 – Ex-partners are most likely to be backburners.
49:20 – social media is the cause for up to 30% of divorces.
50:27 – rules around social media?
52:10 – people may have different intent than you when using social media.
54:31 – the lies people are most disappointed by when online dating.
56:36 – lying on dating sites reduces relationship length.
57:52 – pitfalls to avoid when dating online.
1:00:23 – the criteria you are looking for when dating.
1:02:10 – relationships are so important.
1:03:21 – persisting with our current relationship vs looking for something new.
1:05:32 – what if our relationship has lost it’s spark?
1:09:19 – connect with Michelle.

Links to References

Phantom Vibrations 

Mobile Phone Addiction 

Out of Touch: How to Survive an Intimacy Famine Hardcover by Michelle Drouin   

Massage Therapy and use in Hospitals  

Professional Cuddlers and Cuddle Parties 

Online love & infidelity. We’re in the game, what are the rules? | Michelle Drouin | TEDxNaperville 

Divorces related to Social Media 

The Social Animal by David Brooks 

The Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz 

Triangular Theory of Love by Robert Sternberg 

Key Quotes

“Research backs up that people do have stress as to what their children are doing on technology.” 

“Technology is allowing us to have this conversation that touches us and our listeners.” 

“If you are someone that is addicted to your phone that is normal, that is natural.” 

“If I scroll through Facebook it is like a people magazine about my friends. It gives me a nice summary of the events I am missing.” 

“Entertainment that gives us the highlights from our friends and families lives.” 

“I made it a commitment of mine that every time I drove to teach I would call my Grandma on the way.” 

“Millennials don’t really like to talk on the phone at all.” 

“People anticipate that phone calls will be painful, but when they get into them they find them enjoyable.” 

“Call your Grandma!” 

“People anticipate that they would not have fun talking to a stranger.” 

“People actually do have a better time talking to a stranger rather than doing what they normally do.” 

 “When I’m in the airport I’m feeling a compulsion to look at someone who is immersed in themselves and say: I see you…you are here on this earth and I am noticing you existing”. 

“A lot of people go through this world desperately lonely, very socially isolated, so one thing you say to them makes a difference.” 

“Because we are so engaged with technology we are missing out on immersive intimacy experiences.” 

“We are missing out on hugging.” 

“If your life is a pool and your daily existing is the cover we are throw marbles on the cover when we need to be throwing bowling balls to break through.” 

“Skin to skin contact changes us physiologically.” 

“Massage had been studied for thousands of years and is now introduced into hospitals for all kinds of treatment.” 

“Relationships are hard…it great to articulate your needs.” 

“So many couples don’t go to bed together…it predicts relationship satisfaction.” 

“What would your ideal bed time look like?” 

“With compromise couples can get there.”

“I just need a hug.”

“Just committing to be in the same room can get you in a pattern that is beneficial.” 

“If you don’t have a rule the child is not breaking any rule.” 

“Have sacred time and sacred spaces where the child is not using tech.” 

“If you have a rule, you don’t need to battle it.” 

“When I limit tech use the children become the most creative version of themselves.” 

“If you want to train someone, [intermittent] rewards work better than punishments.” 

“More than anything kids wants positive regard from their parents and love.” 

“What is intimate to me may not be intimate for you.” 

“We could leave this conversation with three very different experiences.” 

“We all interpret experiences through our own lens.” 

“There are more singles now than ever in history.” 

“We used to say that traditional relationships are committed relationships.” 

“Men have way more sexual backburners.” 

“There is no real difference between people in relationships and people who are single in terms of the number of backburners they have.” 

“…now someone can slide into your DM’s from around the world.” 

“It is so much easier to connect with anyone in the world, which increases opportunity.” 

“Backburners can also be ex-partners…doors don’t ever really close.” 

“If you are married and you are using Facebook, you are stupid.” 

“Password sharing is a way to exert trust in a relationship.” 

“When you give them your password you say, walk into my life.” 

“Not everyone has the same intentions as you when you go on social media platforms.” 

“8 out of 10 profiles were not accurately depicting….age, height, weight, looks.” 

“When you are communicating online you can be so crafty.” 

“People were upset about the deception.” 

“[When ] online dating…see as many people face to face as possible.” 

“Having more choices can lead to worse decision making.” 

“I don’t believe there is a one…I believe there are lots of ones.” 

“There are lots of fish in the sea but being confronted with all those choices can be paralysing.”

“Make decisions quickly to move things to different venues.” 

“Try to see them in as many environments as you can as quickly as you can.” 

I don’t think we are good at knowing what we want until we find it.” 

“To feel loved and to feel like you belong is one of the most fundamental human needs and one of the richest experiences we can have in this lifetime.” 

“The way to live a full and rich life is to spread as much love as we can.” 

“There is a not a single person out there who is perfectly, perfect for you.” 

“The fire is the floor of the relationship not the ceiling of the relationship.” 

“Early in a relationship we have passion, then we have intimacy and then commitment.” 

“The ceiling is ‘I am never leaving you, no matter what’.” 

“The best we can do as humans is to love others as much as we can.” 

“Never be afraid of loving, giving your love, receiving love…fully embrace it.” 

About the author

Divan and Mark are co-hosts of the Candour Communication Podcast where we discuss interpersonal communication and all the human stuff that gets in the way.