Having Personal Discussions with Cell Phone Near Can Lower Relationship Quality

C. Price

Written by: C. Price

C. Price

C. Price is part of's content team. She writes advice articles, how-to guides, and studies — all relating to dating, relationships, love, sex, and more.

Edited by: Lillian Castro

Lillian Castro

Lillian Guevara-Castro brings more than 30 years of journalism experience to ensure DatingAdvice articles have been edited for overall clarity, accuracy, and reader engagement. She has worked at The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, The Gwinnett Daily News, and The Gainesville Sun covering lifestyle topics.

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Anyone who’s stewed as their date spent more time checking their phone than making eye contact will find solace from a pair of new studies.

The two studies, coming out of the University of Essex, found the mere presence of a cell phone was enough to cause lowered feelings of satisfaction, trust and intimacy between two partners, even if neither partner never actually checked the phone.

In the first study, 74 participants shared a moderately meaningful conversation either with a cell phone present or without a cell phone present.

Researchers found partners in the presence of a cell phone felt less close with one another than did partners who shared a conversation without a cell phone present.


“The mere presence of a cell phone inhibits the

development of closeness and trust between partners.”

In the second study, 68  participants were randomly assigned to absent vs. present phone and casual vs. meaningful conversation.

Overall, the results from both experiments show just having a cell phone near inhibits the development of closeness and trust between partners and reduces the amount of empathy and understanding individuals feel from their partners.

Results from the second experiment shows these effects are most pronounced if individuals are discussing a personally meaningful topic.

Source: University of Essex via Sage Journals. Photo source:

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