Love Doctor's Blog

How do Our Phones Affect Our Romantic Relationships?

Do you feel that your partner’s phone is ruining your relationship, or is it just changing existing issues? 


We all know that boomers think our phones are rotting our brains and destroying our relationships. Whether or not this is true is subject to some debate and varies from person to person: overuse of anything can cause problems. I certainly know people who spend time on their phones to avoid unpleasant situations. So how does this specifically affect our romantic relationships, and what can we do to create healthy boundaries? Are phones ruining our intimate lives? 

The importance of talking

The best relationship advice I can ever give is to communicate. If you feel ignored by your partner because they’d rather look at a screen than interact with you, discuss this with them. They may not realise they’re doing it. How they act next is important, because they’ll either make an effort to change, which is good, or ignore you, in which case you need to consider how much you actually want to be with them. The problem with some people’s phone usage is they don’t realise how much time they spend scrolling. Screen time limits can help monitor this, and allow people to adjust their behaviour. 

Romantic Relationships
Romantic Relationships

My phone makes me sad

Phones are an easy and convenient way to access information at any time. I can look up the death of a 15th-century noble, discuss philosophy or look at my ex’s baby pictures with astonishing ease. I can find pictures of anything I could think of, buy anything I want, or talk to any number of strangers. This can, of course, be bad for your mental health. I’m not the only person to spend time arguing over Facebook Messenger and then return, weeks later to see the hurtful things said to me. Anyone in the world who has access to the internet can take the time to insult me and it will arrive within seconds, a hateful buzzing on an innocuous device by my desk. I’m not important enough for anyone to bother regularly, but celebrities, influencers and prominent social media users can, understandably, feel overwhelmed by vitriol. 

Phones are so useful! 

The knock-on effect is, understandably, bad for mental health and will inevitably cause problems in relationships. But let’s look at the other side. With my phone, I can engage in long-distance relationships, meet new people, or send my significant other a cute picture of a dog. When used in moderation, phones can enhance our connections and allow us to communicate with our partners clearly and regularly. They’re also crucial for parents and mean that practical matters can be discussed and decided easily, which must make things easier. 

Romantic Relationships
Romantic Relationships

Technology and infidelity.

 If people want to cheat in relationships, they inevitably will. There’s no denying, however, that phones provide plenty of opportunities for this to happen. From discrete dating apps to easy connections with “models” on Instagram, you can sext or exchange pictures with someone almost instantly. However, I believe that you should blame the person and not the device when someone is unfaithful. I should also mention internet porn overindulgence, which is so conveniently close and accessible on phones. Whilst there’s nothing inherently wrong with pornography, it can be addictive and ruin relationships… rather like phones themselves.

What on earth is phubbing? 

Because the internet loves to name things, people have come up with a new term: “phubbing”. It’s when someone phone-snubs you, or looks at their phone instead of interacting with you. To be honest, I think it’s a pretty weak term because if someone wanted to snub you, they’d find a way to do it with a book or headphones or one of a million other ways. Passive aggression will find a way. However, if there are legitimate concerns about someone’s phone use or behaviour that could indicate dependence or addiction, it’s a good idea to encourage them to speak to a therapist or psychologist. Professional assistance may allow them to establish boundaries and find ways to deal with the problems they’ve been, ah, “phubbing”. To be honest, I think “ghosting” was the best term the internet has come up with.


So, can phones ruin romantic relationships? No. People ruin romantic relationships, and they might do so with their phones. I grew up in the 2000s when mobile phones were becoming more widely available and used, so I don’t really know what a relationship would look like without them. It’s clear, however, that infidelity, addiction, and communication issues predate phones and therefore they can’t really be held accountable, even if they have affected these problems. If you’re worried about your partner’s phone usage, discuss this with them. You might both need to put down your devices to do so.

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