Phubbing = the phone habit that’s messing with our relationships

Do you pull out your phone in the middle of an IRL conversation with your partner? If so, you may be a chronic “phubber” — a kind of hilarious portmanteau of “phone” and “snub.” If you can get past the terminology, there’s some serious science behind the phenomenon and its effects on our relationships. According to a study led by professor of marketing at Baylor University Hankamer School of Business James A. Roberts, phubbing is something that can put a wrench in our otherwise well-oiled romantic machinery.

In the study, Roberts and his team surveyed 450 adults in the U.S. to learn how often people in a relationship use — or rather, abuse — their phones, and the effects “phubbing” has on a relationship. The survey required participants to rate their partners’ cell phone usage in a variety of questions, rating their partners one (never) to five (all the time). Then, the researchers compiled those answers to create a second survey.

And the results weren’t good. Close to half — 46.3% — of participants in the study said their partners have phubbed them. About a fifth — 22.6% — said phubbing caused issues in their relationship. And phubbing is contagious. “What we found, not surprisingly, when people perceive their partners to be phubbers — they spend more time paying attention to their (phones) — that created conflict in the relationship,” Roberts told Today.

Unfortunately, even the occasional glance at your cell during a conversation with your love can add up. “In everyday interactions with significant others, people often assume that momentary distractions by their cell phones are not a big deal,” said Meredith David, Ph.D., assistant professor of marketing. “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.”

If you or your partner is a phubber (you can find out via this quiz over at ), remember that you’re not alone, but it’s important to have a real conversation about it. “It is hard for a person who is looking for an intimate connection to not feel somewhat put off or rejected if you are constantly looking at something [else],” psychiatrist Dr. Gail Saltz explained to Today.

Create some ground rules. You and your partner can’t take phones out during dates, for example — and don’t make dates during times when one of you is expecting an important call or text. It’s OK to talk to your partner and tell them that you’re bothered by this behavior. Have a conversation about it, and remember — people should always come before phones. (Unless, of course, you’re Mindy Lahiri.)

(Image via CBS/Fox)

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