Could Phubbing Be Hurting Your Relationships?

By Tracey Dowdy

How many times have you been guilty of phubbing? Better yet, how many times have you been phubbed? What’s “phubbing” you say? Why I’m glad you asked. Phubbing is the act of snubbing someone in favor of your phone.

Phone + Snubbing = Phubbing

You may not have heard the term but you’re definitely familiar with the act. How many times have you sat across the table or next to someone on the sofa and had them browse their phone mid-conversation with you? In the words of Dr. Phil, “How did that make you feel?” For a lot of people, the answer is “Not so great.” According to research published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior, not only does phubbing lead to conflict in relationships, it may also lead to higher rates of depression and greater levels of dissatisfaction with life for the individual being phubbed.

Professor James Roberts of Baylor University’s Hankamer School of Business and his team of researchers surveyed 453 adults nationwide in two separate experiments. The first experiment asked a pool of 308 individuals to respond to the following statements:

  • During a typical mealtime together, my partner pulls out and checks his/her cellphone.
  • My partner places his or her cellphone where they can see it when we are together.
  • My partner keeps his or her cellphone in their hand when he or she is with me.
  • When my partner’s cellphone rings or beeps, he/she pulls it out even if we are in the middle of a conversation.
  • My partner glances at his/her cellphone when talking to me.
  • During leisure time that my partner and I are able to spend together, my partner uses his/her cellphone.
  • My partner uses his or her cellphone when we are out together.
  • If there is a lull in our conversation, my partner will check his or her cellphone.

The second experiment focused on couples and the impact of phubbing on their relationship. One hundred and forty-five participants were asked to identify behaviors they had experienced in their relationships and rate their security, satisfaction and levels of anxiety/depression felt as a result of their partner’s behaviors and actions.

Not surprisingly, 46.3 percent of respondents said they’d experienced phubbing from their partner and 22.6% admitted that it led to problems in their relationship. Those who reported higher rates of phubbing fought more with their partner. Again, not really a surprise that individuals who felt snubbed experienced conflict and increased tensions with their partner.

Phubbing-1“The results presented herein suggest that partner phubbing creates conflict over such use of one’s cell phone which in turn impacts reported relationship satisfaction, and ultimately personal well-being,” co authors James E. Roberts and M.E. David wrote.

One mitigating factor of note is the attachment anxiety levels in the relationship. Those who felt secure about their partner’s level of commitment were less likely to be negatively impacted by the phubbing. Those who were unsure of their relationship status or commitment level of their partner were significantly more likely to make it an issue.

The study concluded:

The institution of marriage (and romantic relationships in general) is under attack. Approximately 40-50 percent of all marriages will end in divorce, while many of the intact unions are poorly functioning and are characterized by low levels of relationship satisfaction on the part of one or both partners.

As intimated in the title of this paper, it appears that life has become a major distraction from our cell phones. It is ironic that cell phones, originally designed as a communication tool, may actually hinder rather than foster satisfying relationships among romantic partners.

Although it sounds like Chicken Little may have been part of the research team, I don’t think it’s nearly as grim as the report would suggest. A little self awareness goes a long way. The ubiquity of cellphones is a societal norm and they aren’t going anywhere. Like everything else in a relationship – how to replace the toilet tissue, where to squeeze the toothpaste and whether you’re spending holidays with your partner’s family or with yours – it’s all about compromise and respect. Talk about what works and what doesn’t and give a little grace to get some in return.

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.


  1. It’s remarkable to pay a quick visit this website and reading the views of all friends on the topic
    of this article, while I am also eager of getting familiarity.

  2. Hey just wanted to give you a quick heads up and let you know a few of the
    images aren’t loading properly. I’m not sure why but I think its a linking
    issue. I’ve tried it in two different web browsers and both
    show the same results.

  3. I really like reading through a post that will
    make people think. Also, thank you for allowing me to comment!

    My page Windy

  4. I just like the valuable information you supply on your articles.
    I will bookmark your weblog and test again here regularly.

    I’m fairly certain I’ll learn plenty of new stuff right here!

    Best of luck for the next!

    My web blog: Fast Dash Keto

  5. Just want to say your article is as astounding. The clarity for your put up
    is just cool and i can think you’re knowledgeable in this subject.
    Well along with your permission let me to clutch your feed to keep up to date with approaching post.
    Thank you one million and please keep up the rewarding work.

    Here is my blog :: Fast Dash Keto Ingredients

  6. Yesterday, while I was at work, my cousin stole my
    iPad and tested to see if it can survive a forty foot drop, just so she can be a youtube sensation. My
    apple ipad is now destroyed and she has 83 views.
    I know this is entirely off topic but I had to share it with someone!

    My web page; Rapid Fire Keto (

  7. Definitely believe that which you said. Your favorite justification appeared to be on the internet the simplest thing to be aware of.
    I say to you, I definitely get irked while people
    think about worries that they plainly do not know about.
    You managed to hit the nail upon the top and also defined out
    the whole thing without having side effect , people can take a
    signal. Will probably be back to get more. Thanks

    Here is my homepage … Cognitive IQ Review

  8. I drop a leave a response each time I like a post on a blog or if I have something
    to contribute to the conversation. It is a result of the sincerness displayed in the post I looked at.
    And after this post Could Phubbing Be Hurting Your Relationships?
    – The Online Mom. I was moved enough to post a thought 😛 I
    actually do have some questions for you if you usually do not mind.

    Could it be just me or does it appear like some of
    the responses look like left by brain dead visitors?

    😛 And, if you are posting at additional sites, I’d like to keep up with
    you. Could you list all of your community pages like your twitter feed, Facebook page or linkedin profile?

    Also visit my site: Natural Burn Keto Ingredients

  9. Hey I know this is off topic but I was wondering if you knew of any
    widgets I could add to my blog that automatically tweet my newest twitter updates.
    I’ve been looking for a plug-in like this for quite some time and was hoping maybe you would have some experience with something like this.
    Please let me know if you run into anything. I truly
    enjoy reading your blog and I look forward to your new updates.

    Stop by my web blog :: Total Keto 365

  10. Spot on with this write-up, I actually feel this amazing site needs a great
    deal more attention. I’ll probably be returning to see more,
    thanks for the advice!

    Feel free to visit my web site Vigalix Pills

  11. Fascinating blog! Is your theme custom made or did you download it from somewhere?
    A theme like yours with a few simple adjustements would really make
    my blog jump out. Please let me know where you got your design. Thanks

    Here is my web blog A1 Keto BHB

  12. I loved as much as you will receive carried out right here.

    The sketch is attractive, your authored subject matter stylish.

    nonetheless, you command get got an impatience over that you wish be delivering the following.
    unwell unquestionably come further formerly again as exactly the same nearly a
    lot often inside case you shield this increase.

    Feel free to visit my web blog healthy eating diet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.