Cartoon by Jody Zellman
I got some nice feedback on the post on being present by turning off your cell phone during family time, so I wanted to expand on it a bit with my Date Night Doctrine.
There are three rules to the Doctrine:
1. NO CELL PHONE on the first date.
First of all, if you're on a first date with someone, you should pretend you don't even own a phone for the entire length of the date. I don't care if you have to look something up, confirm some theater or dinner reservation for the next stop, or find out the answer to some flirty question you two are debating. Because the truth is, you don't have to do any of those things.
If you can't be totally present during a first date, that is bad news for the rest of the possible relationship. And if you're on a first date with someone who can't ignore their phone this one, important time, you should probably run away. That issue is not going to improve.
So the first date ground rule is easy.
But what about subsequent dates? What if you're married?
You can ignore your phone for a first date - that's just one night - but I'm realistic. I know you can't ignore your phone every night, or every date. The world is too demanding of your time for that to be wise.
So here's Rule 2 of the Doctrine:
2. In long-term relationships, designate at least one night per week where the "first date rule" still applies. (Ignoring the phone one night per week shouldn't hurt too bad.)
(And while we're at it, let's add Rule 2a: If you have kids, designate one night per week where you ignore your phone for them, as well.)
And then, there's one more rule - a contingency plan for Rule 2.
3. If, on that one night, one of you absolutely must have a phone handy (because you have kids and there might be an emergency, or there's a work project you have to keep tabs on or whatever else) then make sure it's the one who can handle not looking at their phone every five seconds.
For instance, if I am waiting on an important call, but it's that week's date night with my wife, I make sure the applicable people have her number. She's able to leave her phone in her bag, and wait for it to ring, rather than keeping it on the table and watching over it the whole night.
That's the whole Doctrine. It all boils down to putting your phone away when you're with the people you love.
Necessary? If you truly want to share yourself with your special someone, yes.