A psychologist calls out 3 ways the Internet has polluted romance

Technology has brought us closer in many ways, expanding our notions of how to organize our lives and interact with people we care about. Dating apps have made meeting new people easier. Social media helps us stay connected throughout the day.

However, problematic behavior has also emerged, especially in the context of romantic relationships. Here are three signs that your use of technology may be sour rather than improving your romantic relationships.

#1. Phubbing

Research explains that ignoring your partner for your smartphone (i.e. phone snubbing) can eat away at the fabric of your relationship. A study published in Personality and individual differences calls the phenomenon of phubbing a “social allergen”—an “annoying behavior from others that increases irritation as a result of repetitions and attributions about them.”

If left unaddressed, phubbing can lead to bigger problems. Your partner may become hypersensitively irritated or nauseated by repetitive phone checking.

It is advisable to nip your phubbing habit in the bud. Keeping healthy boundaries with your smartphone, such as setting a rule that phones are put in a touch-free basket after 6 p.m. 20.00, not only benefits your relationship, but also your mental and physical health.

#2. Ghosting

Ghosting is a popular non-confrontational relationship termination technique that involves the complete withdrawal of communication from one member of the relationship. Although apparently convenient, research warns that ghosting can have a huge psychological cost to both the ghost and the ghoster.

According to psychologist Katherine Holmes from California Polytechnic State University, being ghosted by someone special can have the following negative consequences for the ghostee:

  1. Lack of closure. Instead of accepting being ghosted, the ghostee searches for answers as to why the relationship was “meant to fail” as a way to ease their grief. Unfortunately, making false excuses can prolong one’s grief rather than resolve it.
  2. Confusion over responsibility. The sudden and mysterious end of a relationship caused by ghosts can lead to confusion about who or what was responsible. Inevitably, the ghostee can veer toward self-reproach, causing mental exhaustion and diminished self-esteem.
  3. Avoid future vulnerability. Perhaps the most unfortunate consequence of being ghosted is developing the instinct to avoid future relationships altogether. This “self-protection” strategy can prevent the ghostee from forming meaningful connections in the future.

#3. Porn addiction

While occasional shared viewing of porn may be healthy for a couple, excessive indulgence or addiction to porn in one or both members of a relationship is a clear red flag. According to a study published in Frontiers in psychologyunrestricted access to and unregulated consumption of porn can have a corrosive effect on your self-esteem and your relationship.

According to psychologist Stephen Sammut, our preference for immediate gratification can work against us when we use porn and can lead to problems such as anxiety and depression. Other side effects of porn addiction include:

  1. A reduced sense of self-worth
  2. Objectification of potential partners
  3. A distorted sense of reality


Conditions change with time and technologies. It is up to us to carefully examine such changes to determine which ones we want to accept and which ones it is better to walk away from.

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