Dating and Cell Phones

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Oh, boy, oh, boy.

You knew we had to discuss this sooner or later.

Let’s dive in.

Some of you out there need to get a grip when it comes to your significant other’s cell phones. However, some out there might think that you are getting away with your digital philandering. You are not. But let’s take a look at this issue regarding cell phone usage and how it impacts dating—especially early on.

Let’s look at those who are continually checking their cell phones for updates.

Some cannot allow text messages to go unchecked. Some people will not permit more than five minutes to go by before seeing the latest Snap Chat and Instagram updates. The same goes for those “seasoned’ users who prefer Facebook and will frequently check their updates.

And though this behavior is not bad in and of itself, it is outrageously rude when you’re on a date.

Now let’s look at the flip side.

You may be the type of person who keeps their cellphone insight while on a date. Maybe you keep it on vibrate, or perhaps on “Do Not Disturb.” Or maybe you are the type that does nothing—you change none of the settings. So, whether it’s an incoming call, a text, a social media update, an Amber alert, or a notification that someone you compete with on your Apple Watch has just completed a workout, you allow these sounds to manifest amid your date. I could make a pretty strong argument that the person you are on a date with will find any one of these scenarios questionable, along with your integrity.

So, if this is the case (I can hear the fellas now), you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. And what do we do?


Now, let’s look at some research.

  • 30% of people who date online are married.
  • Statistics suggest that north of 40% of all breakups are rooted in issues concerning how their significant other manage their social media and their phone. Let me be clear—this means that those couples who broke up, did so  based on the probability (perception) of impropriety with their cell phone and social media; not that anything wasdiscovered such as tangible or factual evidence. Merely the assumption of guilt was the catalyst of the demise of the relationship.

Now here’s what I found quite compelling. And when I took the time to think about it, it made a lot of sense to me.

Psychology Today published a study by Andrew Przybylski and Netta Weinstein, and they studied how much the cell phone played a part in disrupting relationship development. The study monitored two people getting to know each other over lunch. There were two groups: one group enjoyed lunch with the opposite sex and no cell phone in sight around. Then, as you can imagine, the second group enjoyed lunch with someone of the opposite sex—this time, one of the participants kept their cell phone on the table. Now, these phones were not even activated nor had service. It was merely a shell of the phone. Przybylski and Weinstein concluded that the cell phone’s mere presence on the table during lunch while having a conversation significantly disrupted the relationship development compared to the group who enjoyed lunch without a cell phone on the table.

We could drill deeper into this subject matter, but I think you get the point: cell phones have a way of creating issues when getting to know someone early on. A couple of points of advice:

  1. When on a date, especially a first date, put away your cell phone. Maybe even leave it in the car. Do not allow how social norms have created this unfair advantage to derail a possible great connection with someone because of a phone. While it is unfair, it could be a trigger for many.
  • If you must bring your cell phone because you are expecting a critical call, let your date know this to understand and may reduce the cell phone’s curiosity anxiety in the other person.

I know it’s ridiculous. But face it—we have given our lives over to technology. And cell phones are not going anywhere any time soon.


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