Is Your Cell Phone a Contraceptive?

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Your cellphone might be the biggest thing that is holding you back from meeting “The One.”

Yeah, I’m not kidding. Here is why you should leave the cellphone at home.

CNA_PopeSelfieIn his article, Digital Contraception, Bill Donaghy from the Theology of the Body Institute, explores the role technology has in our interpersonal interactions and relationships.

A picture of a young woman photographing herself shaking hands with Pope Francis provoked his thoughtful reflection. Are we using technology as a barrier to true intimate human relationships? This concern is especially relevant for all of us who have ever had an online dating profile.

Is your digital self your authentic self?

Donaghy’s article warns of the opportunity to hold back from relationships by hiding behind a screen, and not just in long distance relationships, but in particular, for those people within arm’s reach.

Here are some questions to ask ourselves:

  • Are we only willing to give the digital version of ourselves?
  • Are we brave enough and open enough to be able to meet in person and get to know each other without technology?
  • Do we use our screens as a physical barrier to the emotional barrier we’ve already set on our hearts?

Start living in the present

A quick browse through social media makes it easy to conclude that many people are obsessed with taking pictures of the present so that in the future they can remember the past. Instead of living in the moment with all their faculties and senses, they’re divided, withholding a part of themselves so that they’re acting as a spectator instead of a participant in their lives and those lives around them.

Recently I printed photos of our youngest daughter from the first six months of her life. While I’m happy I have them, a part of me hoped that I would have remembered to take more since babies change so much in those early months.

But I know why I didn’t; I was living and appreciating each moment, holding and soothing my poor little girl while sweeping her hair from her forehead, patting her back, pressing my lips against her soft skin and inhaling her sweet cream scent as I sang softly in her ear. I didn’t want to interrupt that intimacy with my family in order to document it.

Often I hear veteran parents say of babies, “Enjoy them when they’re this small! They grow up so fast!”

I want to reply, “But they’re still here. They’re just as precious and cute to me now as they were as babies, and in some ways, more, because we have many more years to build our relationship together. I don’t ‘miss’ them as babies, because we still live together under the same roof. I’ll miss them when they move out or pass on to the next life. I enjoy them whenever I get the chance.”

But instead I simply say in response, “Yes, I know, we do.”

Meet people face to face

I challenge you to seek more real, living, breathing, interpersonal human interactions. Here are some ideas to try:

  1. visit a nursing home and hand out cards
  2. babysit your married friends’ kids so that they can live out their vocation while you live yours: a gift of life to another.
  3. gather courage and allow yourself to become a beacon of God’s hope and love for another person by asking them out on a date.
  4. see your friends, but leave your cell phones in the car so that you can give each other your undivided attention.
  5. spend time at an adoration chapel, face-to-face, with Jesus. This, too, counts as building intimacy…with our Lord.
  6. meet that cute guy/gal on CatholicMatch in person-as soon as possible! CatholicMatch exists as a convenient and affordable way to “meet,” closing physical distance gaps which would otherwise make introductions impossible. But the internet alone cannot support an authentic intimate human relationship. If you keep your relationship at arm’s length through your iPhone, Skype, or IM and email, then you’re holding back a part of yourself.

While you have sight and sound through multimedia, you forgo the other senses which facilitate growing relationships. I’m not advocating immoral behavior, but we have physical bodies because relationships are meant to be physical.

We use our bodies to hold hands, hug, kiss, play sports, dance, and pray.

Our hands are meant for more than just swiping screens and tapping keyboards.Click To Tweet

These authentic human interpersonal experiences propel us towards our spouses, and continue to do so long after marriage.



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16 Comments

  1. Paul-717309 June 17, 2016 Reply

    In our society if its not documented it didn’t happen.

  2. David-1054431 June 15, 2016 Reply

    The title is a bit of a reach, but otherwise I think this is a great article. It’s relevant to how one interacts in the modern world in general, not just for a dating situation.

    I’m not the type who thinks he has to be up on all the latest technology, and it’s ironic because I teach science as a career. With any technology, I believe one should truly ask himself: do I really need this technology? Will it make my life better? And if you choose to partake, do so in with moderation and mindfulness.

    I only recently upgraded from a talk-only cell phone to a smartphone. Tracfone gave some smartphones away for free so there was nothing to lose. It’s a handy device. But I have NOT gotten into the habit of carrying with me everywhere I go. I see no great need to treat it like another appendage growing out of my body. Knee-jerk use of such technology interferes not only connecting with others, but also interferes with truly experiencing the world around you.

    So I do have my smart phone. I use internet a fair amount but don’t spend hours at a time on it. I use email. However, I do not use Facebook or similar social media. Friends and family members scold me for that. But I really don’t like the idea. I don’t want to live my social life online. I live alone and tend to be introverted anyway, so I really don’t need to spend more time by myself behind a sterile computer screen in virtual socializing.

    And what about the pictures people have to take with their phones all the time? In moderation is perfectly fine. But as the author alluded, people are so obsessed with documenting an experience that they’re not actually living the experience. A few pictures are fine. But what about just remembering an experience? Humans tend to “remember” past experiences as being more bucolic than they were actually was at the time. But that’s part of the fun. That’s just human.

  3. P M. June 15, 2016 Reply

    It took me 30 years to find someone who actually wanted to go out with me. She is not Catholic either. Most women have no clue as to what’s up beyond the clouds and if you go to Astronomy Clubs you find that out..There just aren’t that many women who are into Watching the sky, I wonder why? Have no real clue…But The Catholic Women don’t have a clue…either!, sadly

  4. P M. June 15, 2016 Reply

    I own a flip cell phone not a smart phone…lately I’ve been wondering..if I should get one. I don’t do a lot of talking on my cell but my land line.

  5. Antonio-1325713 June 14, 2016 Reply

    A very striking topic and the different points of view from people.
    In reading the comments here, I am sure the first thing most people thought about about the word contraceptive is about not conceiving. This, I would also agree, yet on the other hand, if one truly looks deeper into the meaning on this subject, the cell phone/computer is something we all can hide behind it and say whatever we want to as long as we want to ,thus avoiding the actual meeting of someone online, only if we allow it to do so, then it is a contraceptive/preventive method of actually trying to meet someone and get to know them, isn’t it what CM is all about? It is a tool for those that are in certain situations to meet someone and hopefully have a life together, if that is what they want., or just to get to know someone to be friends with, and who knows, something might come of that too, its all up to the individuals as to what they want CM to do for them. The cell phone /computer is a tool, don’t let it take over your life.,if it does, hopefully you will see it and avoid that trap, otherwise, seek help and pray for God’s guidance.

    • David-1054431 June 15, 2016 Reply

      “I am sure the first thing most people thought about about the word contraceptive is about not conceiving.”

      Good point. I think it’s a great article in substance. But the title isn’t very logical. The relevance of the term “contraceptive” implies that you’ve gotten as far as a sexual encounter with the other person! Yet clearly the article is about how cell phones can keep you from getting close to a person in the first place.

  6. Siobhn-1311992 June 13, 2016 Reply

    ah now here! you could be looking up catholic match on your cell phone! would it be a contraceptive then? ah now here, such a thing to call a cell phone, for goodness sake. contraceptives are contraceptives, cell phones are cell phones, leave it that way!!

  7. Jonathan-1214985 June 13, 2016 Reply

    >>> gather courage and allow yourself to become a beacon of God’s hope and love for another person by asking them out on a date. <<<

    If we need courage then we're probably not ready. Going for a woman too quickly is an amateurish mistake. If women needed to be asked more, then Catholic women wouldn't find it necessary so often nowadays to tell Catholic men that they don't want more than friendship BEFORE WE'VE ASKED. They actually WORRY that we might ask, they tense up, and it stops them from liking us. Don't believe me? Okay! Then YOU tell ME: How many times have you heard a woman say: "I was sooooo tense that he might like me but then I fell for him and wanted to date him." ???? ZERO?

    I can understand how a female author would see things this way though. Since women have not had to have success with women, their tips on how to deal with women are way off. We've got the courage; we just don't always see the promise. We're rejected about 9 times outta 10 already when we DO ask. So it's not like we are taking too long to ask. They don't wanna see us.

    The time to ask: when we don't have to ask whether to ask. Even then, good luck. We'll need it.

    • David-1054431 June 15, 2016 Reply

      “Since women have not had to have success with women, their tips on how to deal with women are way off. ”

      So true. Women don’t give such great advice about how to deal with women. They tend to look at such matters in idealized terms, how they would LIKE to believe that they think and perceive as women, as opposed to how they actually do.

      • Jonathan-1214985 June 15, 2016 Reply

        Yep. Following a woman’s relationship advice will help men with one thing though:
        It helps us get friend-zoned.

        One warning here though:
        Men sometimes echo women when they give such advice, so then they are echoing mistakes.

  8. Pat-5351 June 13, 2016 Reply

    As a commuter in a big city, I shake my head everyday at the 9/10 people bent over their phones the entire ride. Put down the device and just be, people! I think we are much the worse off as a society because of this. And I agree, they keep people from interacting in the here and now.

  9. Simon-1177840 June 13, 2016 Reply

    Thank you for this article! I have to admit, in recent years too much phone usage has become my #1 pet peeve and most unattractive behavior that puts me off of a woman I meet. And if she so much as looks at her phone while we’re on a date without an explanation (e.g. “oh sorry, I’m checking for a text from my mom because I’m meeting her later”), complete dealbreaker. Not saying men aren’t guilty of this as well, in fact I know we are and so I go out of my way to follow the same rule. Everyone should read this!

    • Jonathan-1214985 June 13, 2016 Reply

      Fair enough, since it’s your decision. Although myself if I respect a girl enough to be with her on a date, then one look at her cell phone isn’t necessarily going to prevent another date. Her life doesn’t have to revolve around me, and it’s sort of up to her whether to tell me what she’s up to. This does give food for thought though so thanks for the comment.

  10. Jeannie-822585 June 13, 2016 Reply

    I was a computer tech teacher among other Business Ed. subjects in public school. I limit my time on-line so I can interact with people personally. I am now retired and don’t own a smart phone because my cell works perfectly fine and didn’t want to fall into the trap of others I see. I find it so sad when I go to parks and see the parents’ glued to their smart phones while their children are calling out to them to play with them, just as one example. What they see, is what they will imitate.

  11. Susie Lloyd June 13, 2016 Reply

    I love this. Years ago, my husband and I would spend hours talking on car trips. I remember one where we translated rock songs into really bad Latin. Anyway, we never do that now because he’s got a blue tooth. He’s always been a workaholic and now that big span of time on car trips is just right for catching up on all those calls.

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