Put The Phone Down For Greater Relationship Satisfaction, Research Suggests
We're all guilty of doing things that our partner doesn't like from time to time, like forgetting to take out the trash, for instance, or being late to a dinner date. But according to new research published in the journal Psychological Reports1, one seemingly innocent behavior could negatively impact your relationship more than you might think. It's called "phubbing"—here's what to know.
Studying the impact of "phubbing" in relationships
"Phubbing," or "phone-snubbing," is a term used to describe using your phone during a face-to-face interaction, resulting in less attention on the person you're talking to, and more attention on your phone. Sound familiar?
It's become all too common, and in this study, a Turkish researcher wanted to know how this behavior impacts our relationship satisfaction. To do so, he conducted an online survey with just over 300 people, where participants reported on their life satisfaction, relationship satisfaction, relationship quality, and exposure to phubbing in the relationship.
And based on the findings, phubbing has a real impact. Namely, results indicated that the people who were exposed to more partner phubbing also reported lower relationship quality and relationship satisfaction. More partner phubbing did not show a significant association with life satisfaction, but the results are more nuanced than that.
Namely, on the flipside, higher levels of relationship satisfaction were linked to higher levels of life satisfaction, with higher relationship satisfaction also being linked with lower levels of partner phubbing. So, study author Faruk Caner Yam Ph.D. notes, there is an indirect link between life satisfaction and partner phubbing that is achieved through relationship satisfaction.
What to do about it
As Caner Yam explains, “The phenomenon of phubbing, which hits individuals’ social interactions, is an important risk factor for romantic relationships," adding, "Partners’ being too busy with their smartphones during their romantic relationships harms relationship satisfaction and perceived romantic relationship quality."
He goes on to say that his findings highlight the importance of couples understanding how their phone usage impacts their relationship—and the good news is, all you have to do is put your phone down.
Easier said than done, of course, but if you're finding your relationship satisfaction has been lower while phone use has been high, this could explain why.
Sarah Regan is a Spirituality & Relationships Editor, a registered yoga instructor, and an avid astrologer and tarot reader. She received her bachelor's in broadcasting and mass communication from State University of New York at Oswego, and lives in Buffalo, New York.