You do this 150 times a day. Every six-and-a-half minutes or so. Possibly more. And it's potentially causing serious damage to the happiness and longevity of your relationship.
If you haven't guessed already, it's checking your phone. You're likely on your phone right now as you read this. Is your partner in the room? Are you phubbing them as you read this?
That's right, phubbing. It's a combination of the word "phone" and "snubbing." It's what happens when someone sticks their face in their phone instead of being fully present with those around them. You've likely been phubbed plenty of times. But you've likely been the culprit just as often. Phubbing is so common that researchers at Baylor University wanted to study the implications it has on people's romantic relationships.
The 3rd wheel in your relationship: your phone
In a paper titled "My Life has Become a Major Distraction From My Cell Phone," James A. Roberts and Meredith E. David explored partner phubbing. The goal of their study was to determine how often participants' partners were distracted by their cell phones. They asked questions such as "My partner places his or her smartphone where they can see it when we are together," and "My partner uses his or her smartphone when we are out together." The researchers also asked the 175 survey participants to share if smartphone use caused conflict in their relationships.
The results? Not good. Phubbing had a negative impact on relationship satisfaction. It was found to indirectly impact life satisfaction and depression. "We found that smartphones are real relationship downers--up there with money, sex, and kids," study Roberts writes about the study's findings.
Roberts offers two possible explanations. One, that your smartphone sucks up your attention, thus declining the the number of meaningful interactions you will have with your partner. Second, that your smartphone is a cause of conflict itself. It can lead to fighting, which is never good for any relationship.
What's more, we may not even realize we're causing this conflict in our relationships by the simple -- and often mindless -- act of checking our Instagram feeds or email. We don't intend to hurt anyone's feelings. But that doesn't mean it's not happening. So perhaps it's something worth working on for 2017. Consider a no cell phone rule during meals or while doing an activity you enjoy together. Your relationship may thank you.