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Is Your Cellphone and Phubbing Ruining Your Love Life?

cellphone ruining your love life

When the new study from Baylor University came out saying that mobile phones can ruin your love life, I was not surprised. All you have to do is watch couples who are in an intimate relationship and how so many of them have made their cellphone the “other (wo)man.”


It’s reassuring to know that I’m not alone in believing that mobile phones, although convenient, have become the central factor in Pphubbing, or “partner phone snubbing,” in which individuals use or are distracted by their mobile phones while they are with their partners. The burning question, however, is will people in relationships who practice Pphubbing change their phone behavior?

The researchers behind the study, James A. Roberts, PhD, The Ben H. Williams Professor of Marketing, and Meredith David, PhD, assistant professor of marketing, conducted two surveys in the US to evaluate the effects of Pphubbing on relationships. Here’s a rundown of each survey.

Survey one involved 308 adults and helped the investigators develop a nine-item scale of common cellphone behaviors that the respondents said made them feel snubbed. For example:

  • My partner always has his cellphone in his or her hand when we are together
  • My partner keeps his or her cellphone where it can be seen when we are together
  • My partner checks his or her cellphone when there’s a lull in our conversation

Survey two included 145 adults who were asked to respond to the nine-item scale. In addition, these respondents were questioned on topics concerning satisfaction with their relationship, satisfaction with their life, depression, cellphone conflict, and interpersonal attachment style (which can include how well your relationships progresses to how they end).

Here’s what the professors found in the second survey:

  • Nearly half (46.3%) of the respondents said they had been phubbed by their partner
  • Nearly one quarter (22.6%) said their partner’s phubbing behavior caused problems in their relationship
  • More than one third (36.6%) said they felt depressed at least sometimes
  • Less than one third (32%) said they were very satisfied with their relationship

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According to David, “our findings suggest that the more often a couple’s time spent together is interrupted by one individual attending to his/her cellphone, the less likely it is that the other individual is satisfied in the overall relationship.” In addition, all of the attention one partner gives to the cellphone “likely lowers the significant other’s satisfaction with their relationship,” and could cause that individual to feel depressed.

Roberts emphasized that since cellphones are used more and more as a means of communication between romantic partners, this study highlights the impact such behavior can have on a relationship. Essentially, inconsiderate cellphone use can ruin your relationships and your love life.

Perhaps it’s time to examine your cellphone use while you are with your romantic partner or other loved ones. Are you dividing your attention between your partner and the third party in your relationship?

There was a time (hard to believe for some) when we did not have cellphones demanding our attention 24/7. Fortunately, cellphones do have an off feature. Perhaps we should use it more and pay attention to our significant relationships.

Also Read: We need to talk

Baylor University
Roberts JA, David ME. My life has become a major distraction from my cell phone: Partner phubbing and relationship satisfaction among romantic partners. Computers in Human Behavior 2015; 54:134