It’s Valentine’s Day. Turn Off Your Phone.

February 14, 2013

11:00 am

In Brad Feld’s recent book, Startup Life, one of the relationship secrets he shares is the “Life Dinner.” It’s a monthly performance review of your romantic relationship where you reflect on the past 30 days, discuss issues, and commit to improvements.

Strikingly, even the TechStars cofounder and Foundry Group managing director gives up his phone for nearly 12 hours: he turns it off and turns it over to his wife from dinnertime until the following morning. It’s a safeguard against his inherent tendency to jump to action when the ringer goes off.

“Many entrepreneurs have a Pavlovian response to answer the phone: it rings, they answer, regardless of who is calling,” Feld and his wife explain.

The problem is not really the two-minute phone call, but what it means. Someone who answers the phone in the middle of dinner is saying that the person who’s calling – and their issue, or their possibility of an issue – is more important than their dinner companion.

If you’re an entrepreneur (or, really, just a busy person), your significant other probably feels often, or regularly, or at least sometimes that you don’t pay enough attention to them. And answering a call during Valentine’s Day dinner will only dredge up those feelings.

So, on this most romantic of nights, please: Turn off your phone. Or, at least, put it on vibrate. Or, at least, don’t answer it unless you really, really have to.

If you develop a nervous twitch when you don’t type on your touchpad enough, channel that energy into an app that augments your romantic experience. Icebreak and TableTopics can help keep the conversation flowing. And apps like Couple and Between can help you catalogue your love life and preserve the memories.

Valentine’s Day haters routinely protest against the expectations of romance and perfection and ooey-gooiness that this holiday brings. But really, if your partner is halfway sane, all they really want is you.

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Kira M. Newman is a Tech Cocktail writer interested in the harsh reality of entrepreneurship, work-life balance, and psychology. She is the founder of The Year of Happy and has been traveling around the world interviewing entrepreneurs in Asia, Europe, and North America since 2011. Follow her @kiramnewman or contact

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