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Is your phone ruining your relationship?

Published in Blog by Tavistock Relationships on June 12th 2024

Man on phone in bed ignoring his partner

Are you turning to your phone to make connections rather than the people you live with? Over time this can lead to disconnection in relationships as it becomes more difficult to connect emotionally and intimately with the people around, you including your partner.

Research from all over the world suggests that mobile phone use creates distance and disconnection between couples and that social media encourages us to make unrealistic comparisons and curate couple lives to the outside world

So before you pick up your phone on your next date, consider the following:

1. Are you being distracted?

A study from Pew Research in 2020 found that more than half of all couples who are married, cohabiting or in a committed relationship say their partner is often distracted by their phone whilst in conversation.

70% reported that technology interrupts family time and communication between parents and cohabiting adults.

According to research undertaken by marriage and family scholar Dr David Schramm, phone use dramatically decreases the amount of uninterrupted in-person communication between couples.

  • 70% reported that technology interrupts family time and communication between parents and cohabiting adults.
  • 45% consider technology a big problem in their marriage, reporting that their spouse/partner uses their phone in bed almost every night
  • 24% feel like their partner’s use of social media in bed interferes with their sexual relationship.

2. Is social media making you dissatisfied?

In 2021 researchers found an increase in Instagram usage led to a decrease in relationship satisfaction and an increase in conflict and negative outcomes due to the comparative nature of the platform.

Dr Kristina Hallet has identified how social media contributes to unhealthy comparison and unrealistic expectations of what relationships are supposed to be like. She also discovered that couples on social media tend to spend more time curating an "image" of who they are rather than focusing on the relationship itself.

Sex and behavioural therapist Chamin Ajjan has identified that, on social media, “what you will mostly see are curated and filtered posts that only highlight unrealistic images of what a relationship is”.

3. Are you building a case for divorce?

A survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) found four out of five lawyers reporting an increasing number of divorce cases citing evidence derived from social networking sites, with Facebook being the "primary source" of evidence in divorce proceedings.

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If you feel you and your partner are struggling with your relationship, for any reason, our couples therapists are experienced in dealing with a wide range of issues. You can book an initial consultation here.

Please contact us for the academic references upon which this blog is based.

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