Man Praised for Demanding Dad Pay for Damage He Did to Girlfriend's Phone

A man at loggerheads with his dad over who should pay to repair his girlfriend's phone has won the backing of the internet.

In a further twist, it emerged that this was actually the third time the dad had found a way of damaging the handset. That detail, shared to Reddit by a user posting as SerenasPhone, sparked any number of wild conspiracies online.

But while those following the thread sided firmly with the accuser, one leading expert in family conflict resolution had an entirely different take.

A smashed phone and two men.
A dad's refusal to pay for repairs to his son's girlfriend's phone has sparked any number of wild theories. mheim3011/coffeekai/Getty

There's no denying the fact that financial hardship can put a strain on family relationships. In an Ohio State University study published in the journal Family Relations, researchers found that fathers struggling to make ends meet were more likely to be depressed, while one in five experienced volatility in their personal relationships as a result.

The findings were gleaned from data from 2,800 low-income families with small children and an average monthly income of $2,363.

Participants were asked to rate how difficult it was to pay utility bills and medical care costs and whether they ever had problems with rent or mortgage payments.

The results showed a link between material hardship and depressive symptoms among mothers and fathers. The more problems they had paying bills, the more likely they were to say they felt depressed, had sleep problems and difficulty concentrating.

Fathers' depressive symptoms, meanwhile, were often found to link to harmful conflict like verbal aggression towards a partner. Money certainly appears to be at the heart of the conflict detailed in the Reddit post shared online.

According to the Redditor, he and his girlfriend Serena have been together for nearly three years but while his dad is obviously "very fond of her," there have been a series of incidents in which he has managed to badly damage her phone.

The first time he "dropped it over the cliff" during a hike with Serena, later blaming his "slippery fingers." The second time, he dropped the phone while trying to "call a taxi," cracking the screen in the process.

In both instances, he apologized, with Serena accepting it was an accident and ultimately paying for the repairs herself. However, the situation changed when, during a recent family dinner, the dad "accidentally dropped" Serena's phone into a bowl of hot water.

This time around the son admitted he was "annoyed" at his father's clumsiness, while Serena "politely asked him to pay the repairs."

However, the dad refused, telling her he was "a poor old man that made a small accident." When his son tried to intervene, he was accused of "exploiting" his dad "for money" in a development that saw the couple leave the family get-together early.

While Serena has since paid to have the phone fixed, the son is still pressuring the dad to pay something towards it, despite several other family members telling him this is not the "hill to die on."

Despite their opposition, however, many online felt the son was right to ask his dad to cough up. OrangeCubit said: "Once is an accident, three times is starting to seem pretty deliberate," while goopgirl was "wondering what he's doing on her phone that he needs to cover up."

Lanky-Temperature412 was similarly suspicious, asking: "Why is he always using hers? Does he use other people's phones without dropping them? This is so bizarre."

ThePlumage, meanwhile, went a little further down the rabbit hole, writing: "I wonder if he and Serena are having an affair, which is why Serena doesn't seem that bothered when he breaks her phone and just handles the cost herself."

The original poster, SerenasPhone, rebuffed those suggestions though, writing: "I go out for lunch with my girlfriend's mom without her all the time, that doesn't mean I'm having an affair."

Psychiatrist Carly Snyder, M.D., who deals with family conflict, told Newsweek the circumstances surrounding the story were certainly "odd," noting "one has to wonder why dad needs his son's girlfriend's phone so often, and why he isn't more careful with it."

"There is likely more to this story than what is written," she said. However, Snyder offered a different take on how best to resolve the situation. "If dad's finances are legitimately tighter than his son's, then Serena and the poster should just pay this last time and she should avoid giving him her phone in the future," she told Newsweek.

"Explain to dad why the phone is now off limits for him and move along. It's not worth ruining a father-son relationship over the cost of a phone repair."

Newsweek has contacted SerenasPhone for comment.