Seen any phubbing in relationships lately? If not in other's relationships, how about your own?
Picture the scene: You and your boyfriend are having a nice dinner together, deep in conversation. His phone vibrates, and rather than ignore it, he whips it out to check the message, essentially interrupting you.
Or you and your wife are watching a movie together (a grown up one with no kids!), and you turn to comment about a funny line, and she is engrossed in a texting conversation with her friend, and you feel like you’re watching the movie alone.
Even worse – you are ready for bed, and your husband angles his phone just right on the nightstand so he can see if any messages come in. When any of these scenarios happen, there's phubbing in your relationship.
Phubbing is Destroying Relationships
Phubbing is defined by the Urban Dictionary as snubbing someone in favor of your mobile phone. Don’t think phubbing could be ruining your relationship?
Phubbing in relationships is becoming a big enough problem that studies have been conducted about it. Aside from it’s obvious rudeness, researchers at the University of Baylor found that phubbing doesn’t just hurt the relationship, but the partner being phubbed can start to feel less happy as a person, and even become depressed.
The researchers concluded that phubbing can kill relationships. Here are eight common behaviors the researchers saw:
- During a typical mealtime that my partner and I spend together, my partner pulls out and checks his/her cellphone.
- My partner places his or her cellphone where they can see it when we are together.
- My partner keeps his or her cellphone in their hand when he or she is with me.
- When my partner's cellphone rings or beeps, he/she pulls it out even if we are in the middle of a conversation.
- My partner glances at his/her cellphone while talking to me.
- During leisure time that my partner and I are able to spend together, my partner uses his/her cellphone.
- My partner uses his or her cellphone when we are out together.
- If there is a lull in our conversation, my partner will check his or her cellphone.
Here is a perfect example from a reader of what phubbing relationships can look like:
He’d told me that he talked to this girl every day for two years, but he said they were just friends. At one point during our relationship he was talking to her non-stop – we’d be snuggled on the sofa and he’d have his phone in his hand texting away with her. We’d be at dinner and he’d be sending her pictures of dinner. I asked him to stop talking to her while he was with me – to BE with me when he’s with me." -Gabby
When we think of people being addicted to their phones, we usually think of teenagers. I frequently refer to my kids’ cellphones as their “source of oxygen.” But this preoccupation with cellphones has gone way beyond being a teenager. For adults, it’s not FOMO ('fear of missing out'). Adults are on their phones when bored during work meetings, at family gatherings or at other inappropriate times. It’s not just ruining our romantic relationships, but it’s affecting other relationships as well.
While we may not be in a phubbing relationship, our phone behavior can still be a problem. Even if it’s just a glance down, it still can be enough to cause tension. When we are spending quality time with our partners it is not the time to be on our phones checking messages, texting with others or gaming online. Like any other electronic device, we need to be able to disengage from the phone and engage with our partner. Our phone can become like a third wheel in a relationship, and no one likes that. When we are on our phones too much and/or at inappropriate times, it sends a message to our partner that they are not as important to us as what’s happening on the phone.
Here's what Kurt said,
We all may not know the term phubbing, but we've all seen someone doing it, had it done to us, or even done it ourselves. Whether we intend to do it or not, we are still choosing something or someone else over our partner. When we do that repeatedly it weakens the connection with our partner."
Here are two more examples from readers of phubbing relationships where the partner feels unimportant:
We have only been married 10 months during which time he's neglected me and sat there gambling or on his phone everyday." -Jordan
We pretended to be happy that week in front of family but when we got back to our room we acted like strangers. No talking, no touching. She pretty much ignored me all week. She chatted with friends or played a game on her phone. I do all the cooking cleaning and running to the store all she does is stay looking down at her phone. And say she doesn't care." -Daniel
What You Can Do About Phubbing
Building better communication skills is the key here. If you feel like you’re being phubbed by your partner, you need to let them know how it’s affecting you and your relationship. Then, together, agree on parameters for cellphone (or device) usage when you’re together.
As an example, the rules in my house are no phones in the bedrooms after 9 p.m., and never at the table while we’re eating, even in a restaurant. For someone else, no phones while on a date, or before leaving for work in the morning might be more applicable.
If you've got a phubbing relationship, simple rules like these can not only fix the phubbing, but may make your relationship even better in other ways, too. We may not be able to live without our smart phones, but that doesn't mean we have accept phubbing in our relationship.
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