Skip to Content

Wednesday, December 11th, 2019

Want better ties with partner? Drop that smartphone

by November 24, 2016 General

Pru Life UK Chief Executive Officer and President Antonio de Rosas, relationship expert Rose Fausto, Ipsos Managing Director for the Philippines Marie Lee, and Pru Life UK Assistant Vice President for Brand and Communications-Marketing Gizelle Villareal-Camua talk about the Relationship Index. Photo by Ivy Jean Vibar, ABS-CBN News

Smartphones among top sources of conflict for Pinoy couples, says study

MANILA – Residents in the so-called “selfie capital” of the world and the social-media-mad Philippines may just have to let go of their phones if they want more meaningful relationships with their loved ones.

Aside from money, technology is among the biggest sources of conflict among couples in Metro Manila, said a survey conducted by research firm Ipsos in the Philippines, sponsored by financial services provider Pru Life UK.

Around 37 percent of Filipinos surveyed admitted that time spent on phones or computers is their main reason for arguing.

Close to 27 percent said that intimacy with their partners suffered because of smartphones, while about 19 percent admitted that they sometimes preferred their phones to intimacy.

The same percentage said they “very frequently” sent messages to people in the same residence.

In order to safely address conflicts regarding sensitive topics with loved ones, it may be useful to craft an approach based on how the other person would typically respond to an issue, relationship expert Rose Fausto said during the presentation of the Pru Life UK Relationship Index study on Thursday at the Dusit Hotel in Makati.

“If you [frequently] talk with a person, you will see each other’s tempers. You will know the style on how to approach [them]…the more you are with that person, the more you can tweak the…terms of engagement so you are more attuned to each other’s needs,” she said.

In her case, Fausto said, she and her husband already know whether to bring up a positive before a negative issue to soften any possible blows. They also have a “nerdy” practice of assessing their communication quarterly, so their figurative scores will be good come year-end.


Showing concern about quality time with loved ones, 94 percent of respondents said they would consider giving up technology for one day to spend more time with other people, despite 48 percent of respondents saying technology makes it easier to have deep conversations with other people.

This means that there may be some value in letting go of technology in favor of quality time to make couples happier, as the study also found that 84 percent of Filipino couples said it is very important to enjoy doing things with their partners, higher than a regional average of 63 percent.

Filipinos in Metro Manila also argue with their partners the most among those in the region’s capitals, despite being among Asia’s most expressive in showing love. About 87 percent tell their partners “I love you” once a week, with the same percentage likely to share intimate moments with their partners at least once a week.

Couples with children in the country, meanwhile, can find value in spending more time with their kids than their phones, as parents in the Philippines have the strongest bond with their children in Asia, the study found.

In order to do this, families can set rules, said Fausto.

“In our case, during dinnertime, gadgets are out except…as part of conversations going on around the table. You have to set a curfew on that so you are forced to have meaningful, physical [relationships],” she said.


The survey was part of an exploratory study conducted by Pru Life UK in ten countries throughout Asia, including the Philippines, to measure what it dubbed the “Pru Life UK Relationship Index” (PRI). 

The PRI rates how much a person’s primary relationship delivers what they want from that relationship, with a score of 100 meaning that a person gets 100% of what they want. This is a marker of the strength and sustainability of the relationship, Pru Life UK said.

According to the 2016 Pru Life UK Relationship Index measures, which the company dubbed Asia’s first relationship index, the Philippines scored a satisfaction score of 79/100. This means that on average, Filipino respondents’ primary relationships fulfilled 79 percent of their desired relationship needs, second to Vietnam with a score of 83/100. China had the lowest PRI at 54/100.

Courtesy of Pru Life UK

The study was conducted from July 13 to 31, 2016, with 500 Metro Manila-based individual respondents taking part in an online survey. The participants were adults aged 25 to 55 years, with incomes of at least P20,000 per month—approximately the top two-thirds of household income in the country’s capital.

Around 84 percent of adults were in a relationship with a partner, including 56 percent who were married. Around 69 percent were parents.

The respondents answered a survey consisting of questions answerable by “Yes” or “No”, and a statistical margin of error of within (+/-) 4.3 percent. 

The 500 respondents from the Philippines are part of a larger study encompassing the Asian region, with a total of 5,000 interviewees from key cities in Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, and Vietnam in addition to the Philippines.

Pru Life UK Assistant Vice President for Brand and Communications-Marketing Gizelle Villareal-Camua, and Ipsos Managing Director for the Philippines Marie Lee say it is important to measure relationships because they influence how Asians make decisions regarding finances and other relevant issues. Photo by Ivy Jean Vibar, ABS-CBN News

“It’s going to be an annual exercise, updated yearly. It’s going to take time to finish the launches of the studies in other countries, and our other activations. Eventually, once we roll it out to our other countries, we will prepare for another study,” said Gizelle Villareal-Camua, Pru Life UK Assistant Vice President for Brand and Communications-Marketing.

Singapore, China, Vietnam, and the Philippines have so far rolled out the results of their studies.

“I think it’s a landmark study. I have not heard of any other study focusing seriously on the relationship. This did not happen overnight, the people in Hong Kong, particularly, planned for this for at least a year…before rolling it out to all markets,” said Ipsos Managing Director for the Philippines Marie Lee.

“We value relationships…they influence the financial decisions we make,” Villareal-Camua said.

A 2010 study conducted by the National Statistical Coordination Board to determine the Philippine Happiness Index (PHI) found that family, health, and religion or spiritual work were the top 3 things that made Filipinos happy.