Relationships are hard enough to keep intact. But now there’s a new obstacle killing off romance: “phubbing”, a merging of the words “phone” and “snubbing”.
A new study found that being continuously distracted by smartphones has become a huge source of conflict in romantic relationships, and can often be as prominent a problem as money, sex and kids.
Phubbing occurs when your partner ignores you or is distracted from conversation because of his or her phone. While phubbing can often happen innocently, such as checking Facebook at the dinner table, the constant use of smartphones in the presence of a romantic partner can undermine the relationship—making it feel as if someone’s partner is choosing their phone over them.
According to the survey results, 46 percent of participants had experienced phubbing from their significant other, and 27 percent of respondents disclosed that phubbing caused problems in their relationship. Not only did the study find that phubbing was affecting relationship security, but participants who reported being phubbed were also more likely to have depression and overall low life satisfaction.
The study’s head researcher, Dr. James Roberts, found two possible explanations on why phubbing was creating problems in romantic relationships. First, the time spent on smartphones reduces the amount of meaningful time spent with your partner. Second, the actual act of phubbing leads to fighting, therefore creating less satisfaction in the relationship.
It is inevitable that we use our phones in front of our romantic partners, but making time for distraction-free communication is key. If you know someone who may need a phubbing intervention, the site StopPhubbing.com has made it their mission to stop phubbing, and provides statistics and resources to help the world become “phub-free.”
Photo: L’oeil étranger, CC-BY
Jane Snyder is a health intern with Paste and a freelance writer and photojournalist based out of Athens, Georgia.