How Smartphones Could Be Ruining Your Relationship

How Smartphones Could Be Ruining Your Relationships

A guest post by Jovell Alingod

Even with the most devoted couples, it seems that once-common conversations in bed have been replaced with endless scrolling through social media apps or funny image-based sites – individually.

Is the internet putting up a barrier between people, even in bed?

We compulsively carry our smartphones with us wherever we go. The classroom, the bathroom, the bedroom, the outdoors — our phone is always in hand as if it were some magic self-defense tool capable of protecting us from all that is evil in the world.

It all happened so fast. We didn’t have the time to set any boundaries for smartphone usage, and now we find ourselves unable to save our relationships and form meaningful interactions with those dear to us.

Smartphones are very useful in many circumstances. However, although not ruining your relationships per se, they can harm it in devious ways.

Lack of Mindfulness

A smartphone is a modern day distraction that is so common, it’s hardly noticed any more. It accompanies us wherever we go, demanding our attention multiple times a day. A phone call, a Facebook notification, oh look someone just pinned my cake pops recipe!


We become irrevocably immersed in our digital lives, prioritizing the virtual world over anything else. Is it really that important to Instagram your dinner, rather than actually savoring it and sharing your impressions – or maybe a forkful of the dish – with the person next to you?

Smartphones get in the way of our relationships, making it impossible for us to wholeheartedly devote our attention to the present moment. As a result, we lose many moments of wonder that are unique and never to be lived again.

Why pay a $50 to see your favorite band, if you’re going to watch the whole thing through your smartphone camera anyway?

Loss of Communication

Smartphones can be the culprit of communication breakdown among couples.

Intimacy is hard to achieve or maintain when your phone keeps beeping with alerts, notifications and email reminders. A constant, merciless distraction, our smartphones have come to replace deep-felt, long conversations in view of non-urgent, shallow tasks; retweeting a fun tweet, updating your Facebook status for the 136th time.

In fact, some people talk more about their relationships on Facebook than they do face-to-face with the person they’re actually in a relationship with!

We’re becoming so obsessed over how our lives look to others through the digital glass that we forget how significant it is to live, invest and relish in the present moment and the reality we’re in.

Why choose to communicate through social media, rather than enjoy a friend’s company? Or better yet, do something together, other than sitting side by side staring at the displays on your individual devices?

Inevitably, excessive smartphone use drives us away from each other, and we only choose to communicate impersonally and for superficial matters. Somehow, bonding and intimacy no longer appeal to us, making it impossible for us to build any new, sincere relationships.

Destabilization of Relationships

To sustain a relationship it needs to be based on constant give and take, where we think about someone else at least as much as we think about ourselves. Smartphones upset this balance.

They can turn us into selfish, nonempathetic individuals who are only worried how many likes their Instagram photo received, or how many times their meme got repinned. We place too much emphasis on our digital lives, and we lose sight of the urgency and beauty of the everyday.

This leads to a vicious circle, where the more we interact with the digital world, the more we . . .

  • become indifferent to the real world and people;
  • get attached to the meaningless approval of strangers online;
  • seek validity and recognition from people we don’t know;
  • fail to see or interact with people we do know;
  • lose the connections to the real world and real people;
  • depend on the virtual world.

Prioritizing the Wrong Models of Communication

We’ve become convinced that our mobile alerts and notifications are urgent no matter what. We feel the urge to reply or check our email and social media accounts over and over again like our lives depended on it.

As a result, we’ve become overly attached to digital communication, regarding real life communication as secondary.

We exchange the depth and quality of face-to-face interactions with shallow and impersonal connections. We have fallen under the delusion that smartphones improve our experiences and relationships, when in reality, they’re slowly eating them alive.

We sabotage our happiness and wreak havoc with our relationships, failing to see which is more important in our life. Small, precious moments are slipping away because we’re focused on reading all of our emails, and we get unreasonably anxious if we put our phones away even for 30 minutes.

Perhaps we should ask ourselves whether being disconnected is, after all, really that hard. Do we really need our smartphones in the bathroom or in bed?

Stress and Smartphone Separation Anxiety

Unless you put boundaries to your phone usage, you will become addicted to it. You don’t even have to take a smartphone addiction test to see if you’re addicted to it.

Are you unwilling to take a test like that because you’re scared of the results? That’s enough of an indication in itself.

Apparently, somewhere along the way, we lost sight what real-life priorities look like. As you might expect, our mobile device obsession weakens our relationships, drives people away and disappoints and hurts others.

We have it all wrong. We shouldn’t feel stressed and anxious when we’re in phone-free zones, we should be relieved. Relieved that we can cherish special moments happening each day, relieved we can be mindful of the present moment which will never be repeated. Relieved that we’re unreachable, free to make good use of our time and our relationships.

Author: Jovell Alingod is a Project Manager for eReflect – a world leader in self-improvement software for vocabulary, spelling, typing, and speed reading with tens of thousands of happy customers in over 110 countries.



  1. Recently I traveled to Europe and was struck by all the phones. I saw couples sitting at tables each in their own world ignoring one other. I saw a family with the children and no one was directly relating to one another. Each of them tune into their own electronic device.

    I had resistance to getting a cell phone. My friends still complain that I seldom answer it. I like it better that way.

    Thanks for the article. I hope more people stop to think before they turn their phones on.

    With aloha, Susan

  2. You’re welcome Susan. I’m glad you liked it. Yes, it’s just sad that not everybody sees it that way. Hopefully in some ways this article helps.

  3. Davis Nguyen says:

    I agree Jovell. I bought my first smart phone this summer. At first I thought it would make my life easier with all the apps, calendars, and internet access. Instead I feel it caused me to be less tuned into those around me. Before I had a smartphone, I would talk with people when I waited in line, now I just go on my phone to check for mail or play games.

    I have to make a conscious effort to not do that, which I never had to do before I had a smartphone.

    • Hi Davis! The best part is you’re making that conscious effort than none at all. Or worse, if you’re not aware that it’s happening to you. I’m glad the post resonated with you. Thank you!

  4. Any new tool or shiny object commands our attention. But you’re so right, Jovell. Phones can become drug-like. They also run the risk of making our relationships a mile wide and an inch deep…plenty of them, but not much in the way of substance.

    Our family values our time together…but yes, it is a challenge to put the “electronic crack” down. What do you think of the idea of Phone Free Fridays, or something similar?

    • Good idea Larry! These types of challenges usually get a good response. Something like a “No Straw Day” in fast food restaurants or “No Plastic Bags every Wednesdays” in malls in some countries.

  5. That one guy says:

    Unfortunately, i don’t feel the same way as you guys.
    I see all these forums on the internet trying to persuade people to get off their phones and live.
    People are using smartphones as an everyday tool , however, they do that because the ordinary smartphone is quite helpful. Many people are using iPods or iPads as substitutes and it is evident that the generation is moving on. The internet access from phones is an example of the everyday smartphone use that we all use.
    I myself do not have a smartphone but a brick phone but i still feel like people are trying convince us too much to the limit where it actually seems like people are overshadowing us. I’m sorry if I offended you guys however, this is how i feel about smartphones.

    • Hi that one guy,

      No problem. We are all entitled to our opinions. Smartphones are really useful. We just really need to find the balance like in all things.

  6. Niyas Ummer says:

    Thank you for this life changing article! I couldn’t agree better to what you have written. Being a smartphone ‘addict’ myself, I want to thank you for making me realize how much I have been missing in life. As I type this, my smartphone lay in my cupboard, waiting for me to return to it. Hopefully, I won’t.. :)

  7. Lonely Eater says:

    Couldn’t agree more. My fiancé can’t put his phone down. Ever. Can’t explain how embarrassing it is to sit in a restaurant and stare off in the distance while he plays (or whatever he’s doing – he always turns it away from me) on his phone. Not even sure why I accept the invites to eat out!

    • I know that feeling well – but it’s not so much at restaurants, more at home – before going to sleep, when waking up, even in those times when you should just be chatting about your day while making dinner and stuff – boyfriend is lit up in a magical LCD glow with his nose pressed to his S5. The thing is – you clearly love him and I clearly love my partner (otherwise we wouldn’t be with them) – but approaching this conversation is so difficult – I don’t want to come across like a whiny, attention seeking, needy person. But it’s difficult to see how I can’t come across that way – I am asking him to change his behaviour which is a big deal at the end of the day.

  8. My ex bf and I broke up but he stills wants to stay in touch and let me come to his families house.he wants to be just that he have a new phone he don’t let me check it like I always did with his previous phone.he goes in the bathroom with his phone and everywhere he goes he is just addicted to it. If I speak to him he just text ppl and don’t comment on my option and my commnuication.he did told me he have been hurt a lot during other relationships.women leave him.he is the only guy that did leave me.and I am the only girl that didn’t leave him. I did just walk away.I am single now I am happy.he is to addicted to his cell phone

  9. I couldn’t have said it better myself. People don’t realize how bad this obsession has become and how many relationships are suffering because of it.
    Thanks for the great article!

  10. smartphones have put a very big gap between people and their loved ones.

  11. Cindy W says:

    I’m reading this becsuse It’s been happening in my own “married” life. Instead of my husband spending time with me, he has taken more and more time on his phone than anything. If I talk to him about it, we just end up in a never-ending arguement. I feel unwanted and alone. Sometimes I feel like giving up.

  12. I completely understand what you’re saying because I’m in the same boat. I’m sure I’m on my phone more than I should be, but I’ve been working on it. I wish the hubby would try too. We’ve had plenty of conversations about it and it doesn’t seem to matter. I’m sorry but when you can’t be intimate with your spouse without messing with your phone there’s a problem :(.


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