“Phubbing” adds rockiness to modern relationships

By Shayna Brouker • Published: March 21st, 2017
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

What do you get when you combine smartphones and snubbing? A whole lot of rocky relationships, due in part to a new habit called “phubbing.” For example, during a lull in conversation, your date pulls out his or her phone at the table. You feel snubbed, and an argument ensues. That’s phubbing, and a new study from Baylor University shows the cultural phenomenon is having a real impact on romantic relationships.

More than 140 adults were surveyed, and phubbing was found to have a direct negative impact on relationship satisfaction and an indirect influence on overall life satisfaction and depression.

While the sample size is small, it’s not the first study to investigate the effects of phubbing. Another study from 2014 looked at the effects on women, and the results were equally troubling. Of 143 married or cohabitating women, most reported that technology frequently interrupted leisure time, conversations and mealtimes with their partners. The higher the rate of “technoference,” as the researchers dubbed it, the more conflict there was over technology use. The women also reported lower relationship satisfaction, more symptoms of depression and lower life satisfaction.

It’s the same reason your partner may get upset about interruptions during football-watching season or with spending too much time with the in-laws. It’s a distraction that leads you to grow upset with the other person, creating a vicious cycle of disappointment.

Couples should be sure to create boundaries and designate technology time to protect precious quality time. If nothing else, remind a partner guilty of phubbing that their phone can’t love them back.