The INSIDER Summary:
We've all been guilty of it: You're out to dinner with a friend or your partner and suddenly your phone buzzes in your pocket so you check it, even though your companion is right in the middle of a juicy story. It seems pretty harmless, but this behaviour is becoming more common — and it could be ruining your love life as well.
Researchers from Baylor University in Texas found that this habit of snubbing your partner for your phone — dubbed "phubbing" — is on the rise, and that nearly 46% of people in romantic relationships have been "phubbed."
This behaviour is happening more often, researchers say, because of how attached we are to our phones. In fact, they found that we check our phones 150 times a day on average — roughly every four to six minutes — so it's no wonder we reach for it without thinking even if someone else is talking.
But just because that behaviour is second-nature doesn't mean that it's OK.
"In everyday interactions with significant others, people often assume that momentary distractions by their cell phones are not a big deal," researcher Meredith David said in a release of the study. "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."
Of the 46% of people who say they've been "phubbed," 22% say the behaviour has cause strain in their relationship. The act of checking your phone shows your partner that you've checked out of the conversation and that you aren't fully invested in what they have to say, researchers say.
In order to stop this behavior, try to set aside quality, phone-free time with your partner and maybe even make your bedroom a phone-free zone. Get out of the habit of mindlessly scrolling social media while you're talking with them and try your best not to have the Pavlovian response to grab your phone when you see a notification.
"Sit down together and set out some rules about phone-free time, where you basically put your phone away somewhere where you can't hear it, for a full hour every night while you and your partner spend some quality time together,” Julie Hart, a relationship expert from The Hart Centre in Australia, told Whimn.
If all else fails, your phone does have an off button. Who knew?
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