Tech Talk: Analyzing the Negotiations and Rules Around Technology Use in Intimate Relationships

  • Jaclyn Cravens PickensEmail author
  • Jason B. Whiting
Original Paper


Technology use has become pervasive, and its use in relationships can either be helpful or harmful. While a growing body of research is exploring relationship-based outcomes related to tech use, little is known about how couples communicate about expectations around social media, video games, or other online activities. This study explored how couples communicate about and monitor rules and boundaries related to use of technology in their relationship. Constructivist grounded theory methods were used to analyze semi-structured interviews with 25 couples in committed relationships. The analysis resulted in the construction of a theoretical model explaining the communication process couples engage in concerning use of technology in their committed relationships. Results revealed that some couples have developed explicit rules about technology use, but many couples relied on implicit rules or had not communicated about technology-related issues. Clinical implications and future research recommendations are discussed.


Technology Social media Relationships Communication Boundaries 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest, with no relevant financial relationships or grant support to disclose.

Ethical Approval

This study received Institutional Review Board approval from Texas Tech University’s Human Research Protection Program.

Informed Consent

All participants received and completed informed consent prior to participation in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Human SciencesTexas Tech UniversityLubbockUSA
  2. 2.Brigham Young UniversityProvoUSA

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