DETROIT (WWJ) – Studies are beginning to show what you may already know: Having a loved one who’s obsessed with his or her smartphone can cause problems in your relationship.

Researchers at Baylor University call it “phubbing” — short for partner phone snubbing  — when a person is distracted by a phone while in the company of a partner.

Relationship expert Donna Arp Weitzman tells WWJ’s Dr. Deanna Lites it’s a growing problem among lovers nationwide.

“In the United States, every person that has a smartphone or a cell phone looks at that cell phone 150 times a day; that’s every seven minutes,” she said. “And so it becomes addictive.”

A recent survey found that people who feel their partners are phubbing them report more conflict and lower levels of satisfaction in their relationships.

“The person that’s being phubbed — the phubbee, if you will — begins to resent it, they feel ignored,”  Weitzman explained. ‘They feel like the people on your cell phone or whatever that’s trying to reach you…are more important than your relationship.”

That, she said, can also lead to distrust.

“You have an intimate relationship with your smartphone, and it’s between you and the smartphone what’s going on. So sometimes your companion or your mate will be jealous and they’ll think that maybe you’re reaching out to other women other men,” Weitzman said. “That you’re getting some sort of satisfaction from that that you’re not getting through your partner, your companion.”

Weitzman said for many people it’s just a habit, and they don’t realize what they’re doing is harmful.

To prevent digital distraction from ruining your relationship, Weitzman said it’s a good idea to set ground rules as to how often you’ll use your phone when you’re together.

“Communication is the key,” she added, “and looking at your cell phone and phubbing the other person is not communicating.”

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