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The Impact of Phubbing on Romantic Relationships

A recent study conducted in Turkey found that people who experience "phubbing" (i.e. being ignored by their partner who is focused on their phone) are less satisfied with their romantic relationship and perceive its quality to be lower. The study, which was published in Psychological Reports, found that the exposure to partner phubbing was linked to lower relationship satisfaction and perceived romantic relationship quality.

However, it was not associated with overall life satisfaction. The study's findings are based on an online survey of 308 individuals, with 78.9% of them being women and the average age being 31 years. The study has limitations, as the participants were predominantly female and the design of the study does not allow for any conclusions about cause and effect. Nevertheless, the study highlights the impact that smartphone habits can have on close relationships.

With the increasing use of smartphones, a new social problem has arisen known as "phubbing." Phubbing refers to an individual turning their attention to their smartphone during a face-to-face interaction and becoming less concerned with their surroundings. As a result, the individual is spending time on their smartphone instead of communicating with people around them.

A recent online survey in Turkey, published in Psychological Reports, found that individuals who are exposed to more "partner phubbing" (being ignored by their romantic partner who is focused on their phone) are less satisfied with their romantic relationship and see its quality as lower.

The study, conducted by Faruk Caner Yam from the Gaziosmanpaşa University in Turkey, assessed 308 individuals (78.9% women, average age of 31 years) on their level of exposure to partner phubbing, life satisfaction, relationship satisfaction, and relationship quality. The results showed that those exposed to more partner phubbing also saw a lower quality in their romantic relationship and were less satisfied with it. However, higher levels of relationship satisfaction were linked to higher levels of life satisfaction and lower levels of partner phubbing.

Previous research has linked phubbing to depression, family conflicts, social media addiction, fear of missing out on developments, and negative effects on individuals' life satisfaction, communication quality, psychological wellbeing, and marital satisfaction.

The researcher concluded, "The phenomenon of phubbing, which hits individuals’ social interactions, is an important risk factor for romantic relationships. In other words, partners’ being too busy with their smartphones during their romantic relationships harms relationship satisfaction and perceived romantic relationship quality. For this reason, it is very important to raise awareness of couples about the use of smartphones during their romantic relationships.”

It is important to note that the study has limitations, as the participants were overwhelmingly female and the study design does not allow for any cause-and-effect conclusions. It is possible that partner phubbing reduces relationship satisfaction and quality, but it might also be a consequence of reduced satisfaction with the relationship and its lower quality.

In conclusion, the use of smartphones has brought many benefits to our lives, but it is crucial to be aware of the impact it can have on our close relationships. It may be helpful for individuals to limit their smartphone usage during face-to-face interactions with their romantic partners to maintain a high level of satisfaction and quality in the relationship.

Source: Yam, F. C. (2023). The Relationship Between Partner Phubbing and Life Satisfaction: The Mediating Role of Relationship Satisfaction and Perceived Romantic Relationship Quality. Psychological Reports.

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