This Everyday Habit Could Be Destroying Your Relationship

Spending too much time on your phone might not be so smart after all. 

woman-cellphone-table
Photo by Ezra Bailey/Getty Images

It's time to divert your eyes from the constant stream of Tweets and back into your partner's eyes. (The Tweets will still be there later... promise). New research from Baylor University suggests that our cell phones could be damaging romantic relationships and leading to depression. The reason? Pphubbing (also known as partner phone snubbing): "the extent to which an individual uses or is distracted by his/her cell phone while in the company of his/her relationship partner."

To determine how cell phone use affects romantic relationships, researchers conducted a preliminary survey of 308 adults to develop a list of behaviors that romantic partners identified as "snubbing behaviors." Actions deemed offensive included keeping his/her cell phone within eyesight or in hand, glancing at his/her cell phone when carrying on a conversation, and checking notifications when there is a lull in the conversation.

A second survey of 145 adults used the scale to measure the prevalence of "pphubbing" in romantic relationships and the role it plays on relationship satisfaction. Just over 46 percent of participants said they had been phubbed by their significant other—and 22 percent of respondents said the phubbing caused conflict. Perhaps even more telling: Only 32 percent of respondents said they were very satisfied with their relationship.

"In everyday interactions with significant others, people often assume that momentary distractions by their cell phones are not a big deal," study co-author Meredith David, Ph.D., assistant professor of marketing, said in a statement. However, David continues: "Momentary distractions by one's cell phone during time spent with a significant other likely lowers the significant other's satisfaction with their relationship, and could lead to enhanced feelings of depression and lower well-being of that individual. Thus, when spending time with one's significant other, we encourage individuals to be cognizant of the interruptions cause by their cell phones, as these may well be harmful to their relationship."

Are you addicted to your smartphone? Here's how to tell—and how to break free from the constant flow of communication.