What Is Phubbing And How Is It Ruining Your Relationship?

June 25, 2022 |
Updated On: June 25, 2022
phones ruin relationships
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What sounds like an amusing term can actually have lasting (and damaging) consequences. Much has been said and discussed about phones ruining relationships, but gauging the exact impact of technology on dating is complex. So…what is phubbing? The term came into being when the words ‘phones’ and ‘snubbing’ were combined.

You ‘phub’ someone when you are engrossed in your phone while they are talking to you (or at least trying to do so). You ignore their presence and prioritize your social media or texts instead.

This phenomenon is seen with alarming frequency these days; it has become quite impossible to walk into a bar or café without half the people scrolling through their phones despite having company. Outlining the meaning of phubbing is very important to prevent such relationship-sabotaging behaviors. Let’s delve into the modern tragedy of cellphones ruining relationships.

What Is Phubbing?

In what may be the first formal study of the impact of phone snubbing, or “phubbing”, researchers at the Hankamer School of Business of Baylor University surveyed 453 adults in the United States. The questions were centered around the extent to which they or their partner use or are distracted by cellphones while in the company of a romantic partner. More importantly, the study strove to answer how this impacts relationship satisfaction.

Researchers James. A. Roberts and Meredith E. David identified eight types of phone snubbing behavior that have become common in today’s world. Today we’re talking about how phones ruin relationships with their technological interference. The eight behaviors revealed by these experts may have been spotted by you.

It’s time to look at phones and relationships in a new light, as we explore the consequences of phubbing your partner. If you identify a few of these patterns in your love life, please do work on them!

Related Reading: Technology And Relationships: Is Love Getting Better With Tech?

1. Cellphones ruin relationships (and meals)

“During a typical meal that my partner and I have together, my partner pulls out and checks their cellphone.” This phubbing relationship behavior is unhealthy. You are literally letting your phone infringe on some quality time. And lunches or dinners are supposed to be the time we share ourselves with our partner.

2. Quit glancing at your phone!

“My partner places their cellphone where they can see it when we are together.” This is just plain disrespectful. Why can’t you resist the urge to keep your eyes off your phone? It’s a different story if you’re awaiting an important email or update, but under regular circumstances, be fully present with people.

cellphones ruining relationships
Phones ruin relationships with their technoference!

3. Let it go…

“My partner keeps their cellphone in their hand when they are with me.” This speaks volumes about how dependent and attached we’ve all become to technology. The idea of leaving the phone in the car, or letting it sit in a coat pocket is inconceivable. It has to be handy. Please hold your beloved’s hand instead!

4. Phone-terruption: How phones ruin relationships

When my partner’s cellphone rings or beeps, they pull it out even if we are in the middle of a conversation.” Aw, no. Phones ruin relationships by hampering meaningful communication. And it’s very rude to let an inanimate object cut off your romantic partner. This is exactly how communication problems crop up.

Related Reading: Social Media And Relationships: Have We Isolated Ourselves To Find Company?

5. Pay attention to your better half

My partner glances at their cellphone while talking to me.” The best compliment one can pay another person, is that of undivided attention. When you are easily distracted by notifications, you give the impression of not caring enough or listening. No wonder your partner is asking what is phubbing.

6. Who’s more important?

During our leisure time that we are supposed to spend together, my partner uses their cellphone.” The biggest priority in a relationship should be spending time with your loved one. And not just physically. You should get your nose out of your phone and watch that movie you both started together.

7. Look around you!

My partner uses their cellphone when we are out together.” What is the purpose of stepping out if you’re going to look at the screen anyway? Cellphones ruining relationships inside and outside the house is a real thing. Have fun with actual people in actual places!

Related Reading: 11 Relationship Qualities That Are a Must Have For A Happy Life

8. Phones are an (awful) escape

“If there is a lull in our conversation, my partner will check their cellphone.” Boredom can creep into relationships sometimes. That’s perfectly understandable. But checking your phone between the silences is a little extreme. It can be quite hurtful to your partner. Phubbing relationships often see conflicts around being hurt.

While these 8 behaviors might seem harmless, they inflict many blows on a loving relationship. We can hurt our partners without even realizing it. The study asked a few more questions regarding the same. How do people feel when their girlfriend or boyfriend ignore them for a phone / How intensely do cellphones ruin relationships?

How Cellphones Can Ruin Relationships

Researchers noted that “the ubiquitous nature of cell phones makes phubbing…a near-inevitable occurrence.” How unfortunate is that? The sheer prevalence of cellphone usage means we can’t help but occasionally phub our partners. Phones and relationships aren’t a very good mix.

Moreover, it was found that those whose romantic partners had more “phubbing” behaviors, were more likely to experience conflict in the relationship. Phubbing relationships reported lower levels of satisfaction (no surprise there).

“When you think about the results, they are astounding,” Roberts said. “Something as common as cellphone use can undermine the bedrock of our happiness — our relationships with our romantic partners.” The researchers explained that “when one partner allows technology to interfere with time spent with their partner, it sends an implicit message of that partner’s priorities.”

An even more surprising finding in the study, was that the consequences of the behavior can extend beyond the relationship itself — and into a person’s greater well-being. Nearly half of the respondents in the survey said they were phubbed by their partner. 22.6% said that phubbing caused conflict, and 36.6% reported feeling depressed at least some of the time.

Now that you know how phones ruin relationships, maybe you can be cognizant about using them. Just be mindful of not hurting your partner by cutting them off or interrupting them. At the end of the day, they matter the most.


1. Why is phubbing bad?

Phubbing, or phone snubbing, is inherently disrespectful and rude. It means that you prioritize your phone over the person sitting in front of you. The message you convey is that social media takes precedence over what someone has to say.

2. Why is phubbing toxic for your relationship?

If not used mindfully, phones ruin relationships because of their addictive quality. Phubbing gives off an impression that you don’t care, or aren’t listening to your partner. This leads to communication problems in the relationship and many hurt feelings too.

3. What is phone snubbing?

Phone snubbing is the act of being focused on your phone while an actual person is trying to communicate with you. You are too involved with the screen to pay attention to what is being said in person.

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