Tiptoeing With Tech: Devices And Relationships How do you use your electronic devices without ruining relationships? It's not easy. Some people covertly text while on dates. Others use their BlackBerry in the bathroom to avoid seeming rude. Here, a few lessons in modern mobile manners from people who have firsthand experience.

Tiptoeing With Tech: Devices And Relationships

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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Michele Norris.


I'm Melissa Block. And it's time now for ALL TECH CONSIDERED.


BLOCK: Here's NPR's Art Silverman on how to hold your lover as close as your smartphone.


ART SILVERMAN: Oh, modern romance.

BETH HUGHES: I was actually out with a guy who had his phone on - I couldn't see it but I could hear it - and I literally was like, do you want me to check that for you? Are you not hearing that beep?

SILVERMAN: That veteran of dates interrupted by digital data is Beth Hughes, here to report from the frontlines of the battle to keep a potential mate's attention in the moment. Hughes is 31, a resident of Arlington, Virginia. She's single and searching for a guy who knows when to use and when to ignore his mobile device.


HUGHES: I was fishing in my purse for a tissue or something and I looked over and I could tell that he was under the table, like James Bond, texting, you know, or BlackBerrying. And I was kind of like, do you really think that I don't see you over there kind of like trying to hide your paraphernalia from me? I don't - I really - like, that's kind of rude.


HUGHES: You know, I do not want to see a guy's paraphernalia, at least on the first or second date.

SILVERMAN: And that's just one of the rules that Beth Hughes has in her personal code of conduct for dates. Some others are: no heavy texting, no blinking BlackBerrys at the bar and no digital date-making.


HUGHES: Midway through the date - first date - he pulls out his BlackBerry and he's like, so when can I get on your calendar? When are you available? And how about next Wednesday? You know, actually, no, sorry. See, I have something here. It's almost like he was using the BlackBerry or the iPhone - whatever it was - as almost like it was kind of showcasing his, like, text savviness and the fact that he had a full calendar. And I was kind of like, hmm, it really was honestly a little bit of a turn off.

SILVERMAN: Beth Hughes told the guy she'd get back to him. She didn't. Hughes is not alone in her desire to make the world safe from intrusion from mobile devices. But there are people who fall in love despite the barriers that hand- held devices put up.

ANUSHAY HOSSAIN: We met last year at right about the same time this iPhone came out.

SILVERMAN: Anushay Hossain fell for Shayan Pahlevani, just as he fell for his new mobile device. She lives in Arlington, Virginia, he in Washington, D.C. There's been an accepted menage-a-tweet since then.

HOSSAIN: The iPhone has been this presence in our relationship.

SHAYAN PAHLEVANI: The beginning of our relationship.

HOSSAIN: But at the beginning of our relationship, he was on that iPhone like it was his job. I always used to joke, and I still say, that his iPhone, Shayah's iPhone is the third person in our relationship.

SILVERMAN: And maybe there's a fourth. Anushay brings her own device to the relationship, a BlackBerry. They have everything worked out, sort of.

PAHLEVANI: We'd be sitting on the couch and just watching TV, and I'll start talking to her, and she'll nod her head and - as if she's listening to what I'm saying. And then I realize she's been on her BlackBerry the whole time.

HOSSAIN: I actually have picked up a lot of skills from him. He is a really big...


HOSSAIN: ...influence in my life as far as our mobile devices...

PAHLEVANI: When we're speaking to each other, you should put it away, or acknowledge the fact that, you know, just pretending the nod and you're into what the other person trying to say...

HOSSAIN: You can do all this stuff and multitask. You know, women multitask all the time. So I'm genuinely listening to him and blogging. But I think the thing that irritates him is that, I mean, I'll even ask him to change the channel and I'll actually be like on my Blackberry.

BRENDAN GREELEY: I think a BlackBerry is always cheating.

SILVERMAN: That's Brendan Greeley: married, a father. He lives in Annapolis, Maryland. He's smart enough to recognize you can't split your loyalty.

GREELEY: You're either cheating on work, or you're cheating on your spouse, or you're cheating on home, or you're cheating on your kids. It's always cheating.

SILVERMAN: But Greeley avoids conflicts between his wife and his gadget. He does so by using a separate locale where his little keyboard won't be rude.

GREELEY: I told my wife, I just want you to know - I need you to know this first - but I'm going to tell America that I check my BlackBerry in the bathroom. It's true. You know, we're addicted to it. I think that's exactly why it's cheating. You know, you duck into the bathroom sometimes when you don't need to use it, so that you can see what's happened. And I think that's exactly like having an affair, not that I would know.


SILVERMAN: All this confusion over how to behave when a BlackBerry or iPhone intrudes on relationships may get worked out over time. One day, an open marriage between one man, one woman and many hand-held devices may be the norm. No doubt our children and grandchildren will be taught the etiquette for balancing all this. Until then...


SILVERMAN: Oh, just a sec.


SILVERMAN: Hmm, Facebook update. Oh, my gosh. Deborah(ph) needs a ravioli recipe. Where was I? Until then, we'll have to make those rules up as we go along.


SILVERMAN: Art Silverman, NPR News.


BLOCK: If you have a story about your mobile device getting in the way of romance, we would love to hear it. Just go to the ALL TECH blog and find Art's recent post called "Hand Holding vs. Hand Held." You can leave your story in the comments section. That's at npr.org/alltech.

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