Are you a ‘phubber’? Almost certainly, yes

Relationships, Bizarre, NakedLaw

Our phones these days are technical marvels, mini-computers that effectively connect us with our digital lives. But that connection might be causing a disconnect with your love life. Because you—and you are not alone—can’t stop phubbing.

Don’t know what phubbing is? Well, if you value your marriage/your relationship/not dying alone, you should.

Phubbing: A scientifically proven phenomenon

Phubbing is short for phone snubbing. Like when you keep your cell phone on the table at the restaurant “just in case,” or your partner checks his email every time there’s a lull in the conversation. Turns out this can be a real problem.

Researchers at the Hankamer School of Business at Baylor University just released data from a study showing that cellphones and phubbing are messing with our relationships and our minds.

The scientists at Baylor took the time to do some research on p-phubbing (partner-phubbing) to see how it affects romantic relationships. The results were not encouraging for those who are glued to their smartphones.

According to the study, almost half (46.3 percent) of the participants reported being phubbed by a partner and nearly a quarter (22.6 percent) of those said that the phubbing caused conflict in their relationships. And in a result the researchers didn’t expect, this conflict led to increased levels of reported depression.

Relationships, anxieties, and happiness

“When you think about the results, they are astounding,” researcher James A. Roberts, Ph.D. and marketing professor at Baylor’s business school, said. “Something as common as cellphone use can undermine the bedrock of our happiness—our relationships with our romantic partners.”

One of the things the researchers at Baylor highlighted was “interpersonal attachment style.” That’s all about how secure you feel in your relationship. If one partner has a lot of what the study called “anxious attachment”—meaning that person feels much less secure in the relationship—then the phone issue becomes a much bigger deal. For these folks in particular, the phubbing led to lower overall life satisfaction and greater levels of depression.

Is divorce next?

With all of this phubbing and conflict and depression, could your love affair with your new iPhone screw up your love life with your spouse and send you into divorce court? When NakedLaw looked at the top five reasons men file for divorce, poor communication came in at number three. Updating your Facebook status or texting with friends while your spouse shares the details of their day would certainly fall into the poor communication category.

So, is this something that divorce lawyers are seeing or hearing about when an unhappy partner comes calling?

Jennifer Brandt an attorney in the family law practice of Cozen O’Connor in Philadelphia, PA, who has represented clients in divorce, custody, and support cases, agrees that communication is, indeed, “one of the biggest causes of divorce and with the advent of cell phones, this issue has worsened.”

“People choose to look at their apps (especially social media) instead speaking to their spouse,” Brandt says. And those people might not just be ignoring their spouse. They might be actually using the phone to communicate with another partner. “So many people who are unfaithful communicate by text, which causes more problems.”

Power down and snuggle up

Baylor’s Roberts suggests changing the focus from your screen to your sweetheart. “We encourage individuals to be cognizant of the interruptions caused by their cellphones, as these may be harmful to their relationship.”

Pay attention to how much time you’re spending checking your phone when you’re supposed to be spending time with your partner. Checking yourself and checking in with your loved one can go a long way toward keeping the romance alive.

And it might just keep you out of court, too.

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