Is there anything worse than trying to have a conversation with someone who keeps glancing at their phone?
It’s insufferable with friends and family, but when it comes to a partner, it can often lead to arguments and resentment.
I know because I’ve been there.
An ex of mine was constantly glued to his phone. The amount of times I started a conversation only to give up after 5 minutes of silence and watching him scroll is unreal.
If you’re in the same situation, read on. I’ll be sharing 15 signs your partner is obsessed with their phone, what could be causing this behavior, and how to deal with it.
1) Constant checking
Let’s start with an obvious one – if your other half can’t keep from checking their phone, it’s not a good sign.
Especially during social times; having dinner, out and about, and hanging with friends. If you notice them sneakily tapping at their screen to check their notifications, they could be obsessed.
2) Interrupted sleep
But constant checking, while a good indication, isn’t foolproof.
Couple it with this next point though, and it’s already pointing towards a mobile phone addiction.
Look – I check my phone probably as much as the next person. But would I interrupt my sleep to do it? Heck no!
From midnight to the time my alarm goes off in the morning, my phone is on silent and you can be sure the vibration is turned off too.
Someone who willingly loses sleep to keep checking their phone has a problem.
3) Emotional distress
Ever done an activity that requires your partner to be away from their phone?
Think about how they reacted. If they shrugged and put it away without fuss, they’re probably not as obsessed as you think.
On the other hand, if they got annoyed, stressed out, and anxious, it sounds like they’ve formed a tight connection with their phone.
It’s like a drug to them – without it, they become emotionally distressed.
4) Decreased engagement
As I mentioned in the introduction, my ex would ignore me because he was so focused on his phone.
You might experience this too:
You ask a question, and they respond with a “huh?” 5 minutes later.
Or, they keep asking you to repeat what you’ve said because they weren’t paying attention. They can’t even keep up with the Netflix series you’ve been watching, because more often than not, their attention is on their phone.
5) Phone as a buffer
Let’s say your partner’s parents are around. Whenever they try to bring up an uncomfortable topic, your partner heads straight to their phone.
Or, whenever you want to talk about something your partner isn’t interested in, they suddenly have something much more important to focus on (that of course, requires their mobile phone in hand).
If your partner does this, they’re using their phone as a buffer. As a way to get out of social situations.
And yes, it’s a sign they might be obsessed.
6) First and last
I’ve got to admit, I tend to check my phone first thing in the morning and last thing at night.
So I would say to take this point with a pinch of salt. After all, I wouldn’t consider myself to be obsessed.
But if all the other signs in this article fit the description of your partner, then you know it’s more than just a check of the phone; it’s a full-blown obsession.
7) Neglecting responsibilities
At this point, if your partner is neglecting their every day responsibilities to check their phone, they’re not in a good place.
It sounds like they’re becoming so dependent on their phone that they’re struggling to function.
Again, it’s kinda like a drug addiction. It consumes your whole life.
If it’s got to this point, I’d be pretty concerned if I was you. It’s time for a serious conversation.
8) Physical symptoms
If your partner is obsessed with their phone, they’ll likely complain about the following:
- Strained eyes
- Pain in their shoulders and neck
This all comes as a result of being fixated on the little screen in front of them. It’s also a major sign that they’re overdoing it and not taking sufficient breaks.
9) Reduced physical intimacy
Did you know that a phone obsession can lead to less sex?
I know – it’s crazy.
But if your partner finds stimulation in their phone, they might lose the will to do other activities, including those in the bedroom.
While they’ll make up excuses to not hurt your feelings, such as being too tired or having a headache, you’ll notice they still have enough energy to check their phone.
The same for non-sexual intimacy. Holding hands? Nope, they need two hands to hold their device.
Cuddles and kisses while watching TV? Not possible – they’re distracted by their phone instead.
That’s a pretty telling sign.
If your partner is obsessed with their phone, they’ve likely got defensive whenever you’ve called them out on it.
Whenever I told my ex that he was spending too much time online, he’d instantly get annoyed. He’d justify it with ridiculous excuses.
Put simply, people like this are in denial.
Perhaps they realize it and aren’t ready to admit it. Or maybe they’re completely oblivious.
Either way, if they don’t wake up and smell the obsession, it’s not going to get any better.
11) Loss of interest
As a result of obsession, your partner might lose interest in other areas of their life.
They don’t go for their afternoon run anymore.
Or they’ve stopped working on the DIY projects they once loved doing.
You’ll notice that their motivation for life in general has taken a hit, and all they seem to want to do all day is be on their phone.
12) Social media overload
If your SO is spending most of their time on their phone, they’re probably using social media.
And too much time spent there can lead to overload.
This means constantly posting or checking for likes. Getting caught up in the lives of others. Even getting frustrated over other people’s issues online.
All of that can lead to the following:
13) Real-world disconnection
I went away with a friend once who I’m pretty sure has a phone addiction. She never really stopped to admire the views or take in the atmosphere in the country we visited.
But she was super into her phone.
She couldn’t tell me what wars were currently happening or real-life events going on in the world, but she could tell me the latest TikTok trend.
And that was scary.
14) Safety concerns
This next point is very serious:
If you notice your partner risking their safety just to be on their phone, it sounds like an obsession.
- They continue looking at their phone even when crossing the road
- They use their phone while driving
- They’re on their phone in busy, crowded areas where an accident could happen
This is just another sign of being disconnected from the real world, except it could have serious and dangerous consequences.
15) Increased secrecy
And finally, if you’ve called your partner out on their phone obsession, they might take to being more secretive about it.
This isn’t to say they’re necessarily cheating (although it’s a possibility), but rather that they don’t want you to keep bringing the issue up.
That’s why they’ll spend so long in the bathroom. Or they’ll make an excuse to do something in another room, and as you walk in, you’ll see them quickly put the phone away.
Either way, it’s not a good sign.
So, why do people get obsessed with their phones? And what can you do about it? Read on to find out more:
Why people get obsessed with their phones
Phone obsession is more common than most people think (47% of Americans admit they’re addicted to their phones in this 2023 study). Here are a few potential reasons why:
- Instant gratification and endorphin release: Instantaneous feedback can be addictive, and phones offer us connectivity and information 24/7. Comments and likes on social media fuel this by releasing happy endorphins.
- Escape and distraction: If someone is struggling in the real world, the digital world can offer them an escape.
- FOMO (fear of missing out): Some people feel anxious if they aren’t keeping up to date with everything happening online.
- Habit: Some phone obsessions start simply from the habit of constantly checking the phone regularly.
Ultimately, you’ll need to look at your partner’s individual situation to work out how or why their obsession started.
What can you do about it?
Now, if your fears have been confirmed, it’s normal to feel worried.
A phone obsession can impact someone’s life significantly, not to mention those around them.
My advice is to keep a record of how much time your partner is spending on their phone. Jot down specific incidents, perhaps times when you’ve been speaking to them and they’ve ignored you because they’re distracted.
Once you’ve got some solid proof, it’s time to sit down and have a serious chat with your partner.
Don’t attack them, but do share your concerns. Your evidence could help them realize that the situation is worse than they thought.
Reassure them that you’ll help them through it, but they need to start taking active measures to cut back on phone time.
This might involve making real-life changes so they find more satisfaction offline than online (a change in routine, habits, and lifestyle).