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Psst…it’s true! She loves her phone more than you.

Your suspicions are real: A new report from SellCell revealed that 78% of women spend more time on their phone than with their partner.


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Just in time for the manufactured “day of love,” Valentine’s Day on Feb. 14, a new report spills the tea and delivers the truth. Her cell phone is more engaging than you are and apparently more worth her time. A smartphone relationship survey conducted by SellCell deemed women the worst “phubbers,” a newly coined phrase meaning “phone snubbers.” More than three-quarters of women (78%) spend more time on their phone than with their partner. Before they even issue a “good morning” to their partners in the morning, 80% of women check their phones first.

And here’s the most deflating news of the report: 17% of women admit they have interrupted intimacy (yes, that kind) to check their phones. On the other hand, 93% of men said they “can enjoy intimacy with their partner without being distracted by their device.” 

The SellCell report wanted to find out if smartphones impeded relationships, if people really were so caught up and entranced by their phones that they’re neglectful of their partners.

SEE: iPhone 12: A cheat sheet (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

As the late Princess Diana once dolefully said, “Well, there were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded.” In a romantic triangle, a movie trope so common, it’s always evident who the lead character will end up with. But what if the third “person” in the relationship is that literal handheld know-it-all? The report observed, “It doesn’t matter if that third party is a smartphone.” 

From Feb. 5 to 8, 2021, SellCell surveyed more than 2,000 smartphone users more than 18-years-of-age who live with a romantic partner, to reveal just how much their phone use affects their relationship. The data showed smartphones can interfere with the romantic side of a relationship, and even expose how much trust there is between partners.

But a smartphone just knows so much

To anyone who uses one, a smartphone is enticing, not only does it provide instant answers, but the latest in news and world events. 

That said, 71% of respondents said they spend more of their personal (i.e. non-work) time with their phone than their partner, and 46% said they spend five to six hours on their phone in their personal time; 52% of respondents spend three to four hours more on their phones daily, compared with the time they spend with their romantic partner. More than half (54%) admitted they’d rather spend time on their phone than in the company of their partner.

Text rather than talk

While the report uses the term “astonishingly” to describe that 30% of people message their partner when both are home, rather than have a face-to-face conversation, who hasn’t weighed the option of climbing upstairs or looking throughout their home and decided sending a text would be more efficient?

Men (33%) are guilty of conducting a disagreement via text messages, even if they’re in the same building, compared to 26% of people overall.

Whether looking to fill that triple word box in Words with Friends, or fill in the squares of 1010! or whatever game catches their fancy, 25% copped to playing with their phones when dining together.

Phones have also been deemed the cause of arguments in relationships and 25% said their mobile phone use had caused disagreements. More men (28%) said their phones had caused arguments, but only 22% of women said the same.

No phone zone

Inspired by Oprah, Dr. Phil, Ellen, or even Justin Bieber, some people thought a way to mitigate the overuse of their devices would be to establish “No phone zones” in their homes. While it certainly sounds good in practice, it is nonexistent in 82% of homes, although 22% of women said they have “no phone zones” (more than men do).


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Locked out

And here’s a gender difference that shouldn’t surprise you: 72% of men would not let their partners use their phones. Overall, 66% of respondents would not trust their partner to use their phone, despite the fact that 63% of people know their partner’s passcode to unlock their phone. Nosiness can’t be ignored either: When asked if they’d ever caught their partner snooping on their phone, 40% of people in committed relationships responded “yes.”

Privacy, please: 21% of people admit they turn their smartphone face down on a table to hide phone activity from their partner, and 27% of men choose face down to hide their activity.

The smartphones’ impact on relationships

SellCell asked respondents to answer the following: Smartphone use has had a negative impact on my relationship: 12% said they strongly agree, 24% said they agree, 34% said they neither agreed or disagreed, 22% said they disagreed, and 8% said they strongly disagreed.

And using a smartphone less would make their partner happier, with 34% strongly agreeing; 22% said they agree, 18% said they neither agreed nor disagreed, and 11% said they strongly agreed.

Gotta bounce

It appears from the data gathered that women spend more time on their phones than men. However, men potentially evoke more distrust because they don’t want their partners to look at their phones and “in some cases” hide their activity.

Smartphones were supposed to make us smarter, make communication easier, and more expedient. But despite all the channels of communication it offers, a smartphone can prevent face-to-face communication. “They are having the opposite effect,” the report concluded. 

It warned, “this could be detrimental to relationships, and in particular, romantic relationships. Nobody wants to play second fiddle to Facebook,” or Candy Crush or BitCoin monitoring or Reddit or YouTube, “yet the data tells us that most of us do.”


Image: iStock/fizkes

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