Your Phone May Be Hindering Your First Date - And Causing A Missed Connection

Our attachment to our cell phones isn't a recent phenomenon. Granted, in the '70s, '80s, and even early '90s, phones were big and bulky, and due to the price, very few people had them, but those who did loved them. Now that phones are smaller and afford a whole other range of uses, our love affair with them continues. Whether we use them for work purposes, to stay in touch with friends and family, or to doomscroll in the middle of the night, our phones are practically an extension of our bodies.


But as much as we adore our phones and might even get panicky if we don't look at them every 10 minutes, there are certain situations where they really don't need to be around, at least visibly. One of those situations is on a first date — or any date, for that matter — where you're still trying to get to know someone or wanting them to get to know you.

According to a study published in Psychology of Popular Media Culture, technological devices, most notably our phones, are a major cause of disruptions in relationships. The study's participants also cited that phones contributed to conflict between partners, lower relationship satisfaction, and depression. If that's the result of a study that examined the effect phones have on married or cohabitating partners, think about the impact it can have on a first date. You're definitely not winning any points on the first impression front with your phone out.


Why you should keep your phone in your pocket

Whether it's in your pocket, your handbag, or someplace else it can't be seen, that's exactly where your phone belongs on a first date. If it's not out of sight, then you might fall into a little something called "phubbing." The word "phone" plus the word "snubbing" equals "phubbing," meaning you're snubbing your date in favor of your phone. It may be one thing to jump on a call or answer a text when you've been with someone for a long time because you already know everything there is to know about them, but on the first date, this is just bad form, and should never, ever be done if you don't want to risk coming off as rude.


A 2019 survey by YouGov America found that when it comes to the ultimate first date faux pas, using the phone is it. According to the results, 70% of women and 69% of men cited phone use of any kind on a first date as the most off-putting behavior you can display. The same survey also found that taking photos of food or drinks for social media during a date is also a major turn-off for 25% of men and 15% of women.

If you really want to show you care enough to be 100% present on your date, then don't only keep your phone out of sight, but also turn on "Do Not Disturb." After all, this feature exists for a reason.

Your phone can mess up a first date even if you don't check it

What about showing up to a first date with your phone in hand, then placing it on the table and leaving it there throughout the duration of the date? No way. While it may be a bold move, it's not bold in a good way — it's bold in a rude way. It's basically saying that while you've made time to be on a date with someone, your relationship with your phone and all those apps and contacts are far more important to you than being able to give even an hour of your time to getting to know someone new. 


Just the mere visible presence of your phone says as much, even if you never pick it up. It's hard to be present in the moment and have a mindful conversation with someone when your phone is the third wheel. You could have an entire first date — maybe even a fantastic date — where your eyes never once glance at your phone, which definitely puts you in a different category than those who check their phone throughout the night. But just the fact that it's sitting on the table says a lot, and you'd better believe that your date notices it's there.

Exceptions to the rule

Although you're on a first date, it doesn't negate the fact that you probably have a whole slew of obligations in your life. If you're waiting on a call from your child to make sure they got somewhere safe or you know that your colleagues are going to need your input on a big deal that's supposed to happen about the time of your date, then let your date know as soon as you sit down. Explain that while you know having your phone out on a first date — or any date, for that matter — is rude, you're waiting for an important call or text. Assure them that despite the phone being on the table or having the ringer on so you don't miss that call, you're still very much present and they have every ounce of your attention.


Yes, using your phone on a first date or having it out is never polite, but emergencies happen, and your date should respect that. If they can't understand that you're waiting on a call that may change the direction of your professional career or is related to your child's safety, then while you may be the one with the phone on, they're the rude one in the scenario for not showing some compassion — and that might be a date that not even perfect phone etiquette could salvage.