We've all been on dates where one or both parties pull out their smartphone to check Twitter in the middle of dinner. But the poor etiquette isn't just pissing you or your partner off, it's actually getting in the way of your sex life. (Your Cellphone Could Be Making Your Partner Depressed too.)
Constantly pulling out your smartphone when you're with your S.O. provokes feelings of jealousy not unlike those you would get from seeing them develop a connection with another chick, According to a new study published in the journal Psychology of Popular Media Culture. Seriously?
It's no secret that your phone affects your relationships—in both good ways and bad. On one hand, it's super annoying to think that you might be spending more time looking at your screens than into each other's eyes (so much for real connection). But on the other hand, we now have the ability to constantly connect with our loved ones when we're not in the same room (not to mention the technological blessing that is sexting...). (Psst... Sexting May Help You Have Better Sex in Real Life.)
But for this study, the researchers wanted to look specifically at the psychology behind why smartphone use was impacting the lives of real couples. To start, they asked 170 college students who were in committed relationships to report on their smartphone usage. They asked them how dependent they felt on their device and how much anxiety it would give them to leave the phone at home for a day. Then they asked them to answer the same questions about their partners' phone usage.
According to the researchers, how much you actually use your device is irrelevant. So the fact that your date pulled out his or her phone seven times before the main course arrived isn't really the problem.
What did matter is how much you or your partner feel like you need to have your phone on you at all times. (Are You Addicted to Your iPhone?) The more dependent people reported being on their smartphones, the less certain they were about their relationships. And the effect works both ways: The more you feel your partner needs to have their phone on them at all times, the less satisfied you're likely to feel.
In other words, we're actually jealous of our partner's phone. And when we feel like our date has a more meaningful relationship with his or her device than us, it's a total intimacy killer.
It all boils down to being present with your partner. If you don't feel like you can resist the urge to check social media while you're in the middle of your actual social life with your sweetie, start weaning yourself off the smartphone a little bit at a time. Try leaving it in your locker when you hit the gym or at your desk during your next meeting and work your way up to switching on airplane mode until dessert arrives on your next date. (Here's Another Great Reason to Put Down Your Smartphone.)