Hey, are you a cyber widow

With more men spending time with their gadgets than enjoying with their better halves, tech tools are the new culprits of wrecked relationships today, finds Ismat Tahseen.

Theatre person Raell Padamsee is certainly not going to repeat the mistake that she recently made, with her boyfriend of three years. One that caused much consternation and that she regretted immediately. And no, it had nothing to do with an argument over what to do on a weekend. All she did was buy him a Blackberry. "He was constantly glued to it," reveals Raell. "At times, he would answer mails and chats even when we were together and it was awful."

Now, if you're already empathising with her, join the league of so many dejected women today, who've become cyber widows!

Wedded to his gadget?
For married couples, a virtual seductress can cause great havoc in their relationships, bringing about distrust and negativity. In most cases, it's the women who feel the brunt of it and this brings about misgivings. Like model Dipannita Sharma feels of her husband Dilsher Singh Atwal's penchant for games. "I hate videogames with a vengeance," she declares. "While I'm talking to him, he's trying to get to the next gaming level - it's frustrating," she says.

Bedroom dynamics change
It's ironical that on one level technology keeps us connected with the world, but it is also isolating people from their partners. And the greatest im pact of this social syndrome is on couple time together - causing emotional and social intimacy to take a backseat.

"An increasing number of separations today are triggered by this," divulges psychologist Dr Varkha Chulani. "Social networking sites can be very taxing as they demand an exhausting emotional involvement. And, at the end of the day, we all have limited energies. Hence, after a man is emotionally drained elsewhere, he has little energy or inclination for his partner's company. Plus, the bedroom can become a hotbed for couples' quarrels. The man may not try and resolve things, but simply use his laptop as an excuse and escape the real world that he should be facing. For couples who are already on the breakpoint, this is the final nail in their coffin," she adds.

Reason for divorces?
The seemingly harmless parley can play devil when the situation goes out of control as celebrity divorce lawyer Mrunalini Deshmukh tells us. "Networking tools such as Facebook are responsible for at least a 20-30 per cent rise in divorce cases today. In the last three months itself, many couples whose marriages are on the rocks have come to me due to this. While the men refuse to believe they might be causing harm with their 'attachment' to their gizmos, it is the women who are worried sick about it all. Also, in newly-married couples, there are cases of simple chats with an ex-partner that becomes a flirtatious relationship and causes mayhem. Many men are watching porn sites to such an extent that it creates havoc in their married life."

Cyber widower too!
But men can be at the receiving end of this syndrome too. TV host and actor Cyrus Broacha remarks lightheartedly how wife Ayesha constantly plays Scrabble with her sister in the US. "Now, there is a TV in the room and she has her games on the phone. I'm completely redundant in her life; something like what a married man should feel like after 10 years," he grins.

Is there a crtl+alt+z?
Not really, but victims and experts show a way out. "One can make rules like making sure one leaves a gadget out of the room," says Raell. While model Sharma has learnt to live with being a cyber widow to keep the peace at home, Barkha Sharma, wife of santoor maestro Rahul Sharma says when he gets involved with his phone or creates music on his laptop, she uses the situation for some 'self-time'. "No sense competing with a machine," she sighs.

Actor Celina Jaitly also agrees it can be a little bugging if the guy constantly looks into his networking sites. "This is totally unchivalrous. But if it's a onetime office emergency, the gentleman 'can' be pardoned as long as he can make up for it," she smiles.

In conclusion, Chulani offers a few tips. "For one, some conditions must be laid down, so people realise they must draw the line somewhere. They need to look at leisure time differently. I feel men who can't stay away from their gadgets are not at ease with themselves and need to feel distracted. They pretend to feel this grandiosity - that they are all important and therefore must be in all places at one time - that needs to change," she states.

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