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Think keeping your phone on the dinner table is no big deal? Wrong! New research explores how cell phones negatively impact relationships.

Oct, 05, 2015

You know those times when you’re with your partner but you’re both spending more time on your phones than engaged with each other, but it’s totally not a big deal? Yeah, well, you’re wrong. It’s a huge deal. Technically, you’re both guilty of “pphubbing,” the act of “partner phone snubbing,” which new research shows could cause long-term negative effects in your relationship and personal life.

Yes, it is a real thing, and experts believe it has slowly become an epidemic in the U.S. According to the results of an experiment on pphubbing published in the Computers In Human Behavior Journal, 46.3 percent of participants admit they’ve experienced phubbing in their relationships, while 22.6 percent admit that phubbing also lead to problems in their relationship. Using two separate experiments, Professor James A. Roberts, Ph.D of Baylor University’s Hankamer School of Business., Ben H. Williams Professor of Marketing, and Meredith David, Ph.D., assistant professor of marketing, recently published their study in which they surveyed 453 adults across the country. For purposes of the study, pphubbing is defined as “the extent to which people use or are distracted by their cellphones while in the company of their relationship partners.”

“What we discovered was that when someone perceived that their partner pphubbed them, this created conflict and led to lower levels of reported relationship satisfaction,” Roberts explained. “These lower levels of relationship satisfaction, in turn, led to lower levels of life satisfaction and, ultimately, higher levels of depression.”

A whopping 36.6 percent of those surveyed reported feeling depressed at least some of the time after being pphubbed by someone they’re in a relationship with, and overall, only 32 percent of respondents who had been pphubbed at some point by their partner stated that they were very satisfied with their relationship, the study shows.

But how harmless can just glancing at your phone during a date really be? Apparently, very! Adults in Robert’s first group of 146 adults helped to determine a “Partner Pphubbing Scale”. Those surveyed felt snubbing included situations like when “my partner places his or her cellphone where they can see it when we are together” and “my partner glances at his/her cellphone when talking to me,” among others.

“In everyday interactions with significant others, people often assume that momentary distractions by their cell phones are not a big deal,” David added. “However, 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.

So, lovers, if you truly want to keep the spice in your relationship, you should start by turning off your smartphones.