How Your Cell Phone is Causing Relationship Strain

Jealousy, cheating, couple

Man texting while his significant other looks bored | Source: iStock

Picture this: You’re out to dinner at a nice restaurant with your partner, and his or her phone is sitting out on the table. Suddenly, and rather unsurprisingly, it buzzes or rings, and your significant other picks up the phone to check it, interrupting your conversation and changing the atmosphere of your date. Over time it can be a serious relationship strain. Sound familiar?

If so, you’ve been phubbed. No, it’s not a hidden camera prank show, it’s a term used to describe when your partner is phone snubbing you. This is a modern dating dilemma and of course, a lesson in etiquette: You shouldn’t be taking phone calls or answering your texts, unless it’s an emergency, when you’re out on a date with your partner. Doing so will only compound relationship strain.

Researchers at Baylor University decided to take on the phubbing phenomenon, and found that it can in fact cause conflict and damage to relationships, and may even lead to feelings of depression. You may have never realized your phone obsession not only affects you but also those around you.

Couple both using their phones | Source: iStock

Couple both using their phones | Source: iStock

The new study, which was published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior, not only defines what phubbing is but utilizes data from more than 450 surveys to map out a nine-point scale of cellphone behaviors in an effort to understand the effect of phubbing on relationships.

The researchers of the study then asked participants to participate in another survey, and found that about half of the respondents of this particular survey, 46.3%, have indeed been phubbed by their S.O. Of the same group surveyed, 22.6% said that phubbing has caused problems in their relationships. The severity of the problems varied, but the researchers concluded that the more a person was phubbed, the less satisfied they felt in their relationships.

“Our study showed that when we are phubbed by our romantic partner it creates conflict that leads to lower reported levels of relationship satisfaction,” Dr. James Roberts, the lead author of the study, said to ATTN:. “These lower levels of relationship satisfaction, in turn, lead to lower levels of overall life satisfaction. When we are unlucky in love, it colors all of our assessments. Then, when we are unhappy with our lives overall, we become depressed.”

Happy couple snuggling on a bed | Source: iStock

Happy couple snuggling on a bed | Source: iStock

Sadly, this is an issue that impacts many relationships today, and it’s something you shouldn’t ignore. If you feel like you’re being phubbed, talk to your partner about it and let them know that their behavior is not OK — even if it’s considered the norm by many.

“The solution is not about going cold turkey, that’s not realistic in this day and age,” Roberts explained in the ATTN: piece. “What you do need to do, however, is set boundaries for your smartphone use.” This starts with the two of you setting small, realistic, and achievable boundaries of when it’s not OK to use your cell phone. Roberts suggests that the best place to start is getting your smartphones out of the kitchen and/or away from the dinner table, and of course, the bedroom.

However, if you still feel like your partner is phubbing, visit, where you can find more information on phubbing and how you and your partner can set stronger boundaries.

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