What ‘Phubbing’ Is and How It's Hurting Your Relationship

Just one more way our phones are screwing with our love lives

couple on a cell phone

Lumina / Stocksy

Relationships are all about compromise—whether that means you letting your significant other choose what’s for dinner one night, or you flipping back and forth between both of your favorite TV shows—making sure that each of your voices is heard is extremely important.

But what's one thing that’s making relationships feel one-sided, you ask? Technology. Think about it—when was the last time you ate dinner with your partner and your phone, iPad, computer, TV, or SmartWatch were all turned off or in a different room? Chances are that’s been something you’ve discussed doing but may have found it a challenge since we’re all practically addicted to spending quality time with our vices—a.k.a. our devices—of choice.

Enter: "phubbing." It's the term arisen from people looking at their phone while in the middle of a conversation. You've almost certainly encountered it, and it might even be something that’s negatively affecting your communication with your significant other. After all, phubbing can be extra annoying when you’re trying to get the attention of your partner.

According to the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, even people who imagined they were being phubbed while watching a simulated conversation felt more negatively about the interaction than people who didn’t encounter phubbing. Additionally, a 2012 study found that the presence of a cell phone during a conversation, even if no one was using it at all, was enough to make people feel as though they were less connected to the other.

So how you can make sure that phubbing doesn’t wreak havoc on your relationship, especially during wedding planning? Consider one of these three techniques.

Put Phones Away Before Conversations

To make sure that both people are fully engaged, move cell phones away from your area before you start having a conversation. If you need a phone to call someone or to look something up, save that until the conversation has officially come to an end.

Game-ify the Experience

If you’re having a real issue because your partner might be scrolling through Instagram or Twitter while you’re talking to them, make a game out of getting them to ditch their phones when you’re chatting with them. Set rules, such as if they touch their phone while you’re talking, they have to do the dishes for the next week, or if they make it through the entire chat without looking at their phone, they get to pick what’s for dinner for the next two days.

Have a Conversation About Phubbing

An interesting thing about phubbing is that the person might not even realize they are doing it. Sometimes people find themselves so attached to their phone that they have no idea they are looking at it more than you during the conversation. Instead of letting it get to you and fighting with your partner, pause the conversation and bring the issue to their attention calmly.

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