It’s safe to say phones have changed us. They affect our ability to sleep, connect with people and focus on simple tasks. They especially affect our communication with others. Some research says cellphones are even ruining our most meaningful romantic relationships, particularly since we check our phone every six and a half minutes, or about 150 times each day.
The practice has become so common it even has a name: When you choose your phone over your partner you are “phubbing,” which means you are snubbing someone by a cell phone.
Researchers, James A. Roberts and Meredith E. David, at the Hankamer School of Business of Baylor University, surveyed 145 adults in relationships and asked them to rate how often they use their phone, how often their romantic partner uses their phone, and if they feel satisfied in their relationship on a measured scale.
Phubbing and your relationship
According to one study, 70 percent of participants said ‘phubbing’ negatively affected their relationship and they felt they couldn’t connect with their romantic partners due to phone snubbing.
If you can’t relate to this or if you think you are exempt from these stats, read on, some of the behaviors identified by researchers Roberts and David may hit close to home. They found eight types of phone snubbing behaviors that are very commonplace in romantic relationships. The list of questions below is how each person gaged their partner’s phone usage:
During a typical mealtime that my partner and I spend together, my partner pulls out and checks his/her cellphone.
My partner places his or her cellphone where they can see it when we are together.
My partner keeps his or her cellphone in their hand when he or she is with me.
When my partner's cellphone rings or beeps, he/she pulls it out even if we are in the middle of a conversation.
My partner glances at his/her cellphone while talking to me.
During leisure time that my partner and I are able to spend together, my partner uses his/her cellphone.
My partner uses his or her cellphone when we are out together.
If there is a lull in our conversation, my partner will check his or her cellphone.
Along with rating their partners on the list of behaviors provided above, David and Roberts had participants rate on a scale how much they thought smartphones were a source of conflict in their current relationship, how satisfied they were in said relationship and how satisfied they were with their lives.
How your smartphone usage communicates your priorities to your partner
The study found that if one partner is on her phone more than the other, it sends a very clear message of their priorities. So, Dan is on his phone in front of Lisa and Lisa interprets this as he is choosing his phone over her. This can cause fights and increase tension throughout the relationship which leads to a partner or both partners feeling unsatisfied which can, in turn, lead to depression.
This study found that not only was smartphone usage and phubbing causing unhappy relationships but that it caused direct conflict with partners and even caused some people to feel depressed.
The cycle of being on your phone and relationship destruction goes a little like this:
You get phubbed by your partner during a conversation, activity etc.
This creates conflict in your relationship.
This conflict leads to not being satisfied with your relationship.
Not being satisfied with your relationship leads to low levels of life satisfaction.
Low levels of life satisfaction lead to higher levels of depression.
The wheel turns round and round and round.
While we can’t resist the ease and comfort of 24/7 technology at the edge of our fingertips, we can make the active choice to disengage and unplug more often, which can increase our relationship satisfaction and overall quality of life.
Can you relate to these behaviors? Before this article, did you even realize how much your phone was in the background or on the sideline of your life? I did not. I also didn’t think about how my phone could negatively affect my relationships. But now I totally get it.