After couples counselor Ian Kerner "unfriended" his wife on Facebook, his marriage improved to the point that he now recommends his clients do the same.
"I realized for a little while with my own wife that I didn't really want her to be my friend on Facebook," the New York-based therapist told Public Radio International. "I didn't want all of that extra information. If anything I wanted less information — I wanted more mystery and more unpredictability. I didn't want to know that she was posting about being tired or having her third coffee for the day. So I specifically unfriended her during my brief tenure on Facebook. It's something that I do recommend to couples."
A licensed psychotherapist who appeared as a guest on TODAY in 2013, Kerner said "unknowingness" can be an asset in relationships.
"Put the devices down," he added. "Studies have shown that even if there's a device nearby, it can change the texture of a conversation."
According to a 2014 Pew Research Center study, 25 percent of polled adults in long-term relationships saw their partner "distracted by their mobile phone while they were together," with 8 percent arguing over time spent online. Those percentages spike to 42 percent and 18 percent, respectively, for respondents ages 18 to 29.
If the prospect of unfriending a significant other seems a bit harsh, Kerner suggests pulling the plug on Internet-based entertainment altogether, at least for a while.
"When you add up all of the periods of distraction that devices give us, you might have a lot of time that you could put towards your relationship," he says. "We live in a culture where sex ruts are epidemic and people go to bed too tired to make love — they have no time for each other. And yet they're spending hours a day on social media, on blogs and on Netflix."
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