Cell phones might as well be declared appendages. I'm pretty confident we use them more than some of our own body parts. But the convenience of having constant access to a mild-blowing amount of information comes at a price. Our phones are hurting our relationships, and in a lot of serious ways. In fact, they may be the worst things to happen to our love lives since sexually transmitted diseases.
This isn't just my Instagram-obsessed personal opinion. There are a handful of major studies that focus on the ways our devotion to our devices affects our overall relationship satisfaction. The results are basically hashtag downer. Being more connected makes us less connected.
No one in the world (except maybe your grandpa or that one grumpy hipster you know) is going to get on board for a cell phone ban, but it's still worth knowing the ways that that something as simple (or incredibly complicated) as putting your phone away for a while can give you a boost in the feels department. And, as far as I know, there's no app for that.
Take in all these ways your phone is hurting your relationship and make a vow to give your partner more of your undivided and un-tweetable attention.
1. You're Less Interesting
Andrew K. Przybylski and Netta Weinstein of the University of Essex found that people who have a cellphone nearby report having lower conversation quality that people who had only notebooks nearby. The study participants didn't even need to see or use the phones, just know they were near. Lurking in the distance with their games and scores and flashing text message indicators.
2. You're Less Connected
Texting has already replaced most of our other forms of communication. (Side note: am I the only person who thinks a letter in the mail would be spectacular? Anyone? But for realz, don't ever call me.) So it makes sense that Przybylski and Weinstein's study participants reported a reduced sense of closeness in the presence of a phone.
3. You Have Less Empathy
Study participants who had casual conversations in the presence of a cell phone didn't report a decrease in empathy, but if those same participants discussed a meaningful topic, their sense of their partner's empathy plummeted.
4. You're Less Happy
A different study conducted by James Roberts and Meredith David found that if you're in a relationship where your interactions are regularly interrupted by your partner's cell phone, you're more likely to have such a drop in life and relationship satisfaction that it actually leads to depression.
5. Your Partner Is Less Happy
Yet another study conducted by researchers at Brigham Young University found that when you're on your cell phone all the time, it not only makes you unhappy, but it makes your partner depressed. That's because when a partner pays attention to a phone instead of you, we interpret it as a kind of rejection.
6. You Have More Conflict
Of course, when you feel rejected, depressed, unimportant, and annoyed by phone use, eventually things are going to come to a head, according to Guy Winch Ph.D. for Psychology Today. That means more arguments. More eye rolls. More tension.
7. You Risk Infidelity
According to Ian Kerner in an article for CNN, cell phones and other devices open the door to infidelity. They keep us in constant contact with exes, friends, and co-workers, plus they give us unfettered access to dating and hook-up apps.
8. You're Lazy
Back in the day, you had to make an effort to let someone know how you feel. Now, you can just text a few sweet words. And those texts are great, but you can't phone in your romance all the time, according to Eric Fluckey in an article for Huffington Post. You have to be mindful and pay real attention to your partner.
9. You Lose Relationship Satisfaction
The bottom line, no matter what study you look to or anecdote you hear, is that cell phones decrease relationship satisfaction. They keep a wedge of technology between us that lets us avoid our feelings and stay distracted. We miss out on opportunities for real connection. And we're rude to our partners in ways we don't even realize.
If you want a long, happy relationship, sometimes you just have to leave your phone at home. Oh, and if you decide to share this article on social media, tag your partner, and then dive into a furious Facebook comments discussion about it, make sure you're not on a date at the time.