How ‘Phubbing’ is Hurting Your Relationship

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

Updated 05/11/18


Relationships are all about compromise. Whether that means that you let your significant other choose what’s for dinner one night, or you flip back and forth between both of your favorite TV shows, making sure each of your voices is heard is important in relationships.

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 surely encountered it, and it might be something that’s making dent marks in your communication with your significant other, and be the cause of many of your recent fights. Phubbing can be extra annoying when you’re trying to get the attention of your partner.

The Journal of Applied Social Psychology found that even people who imagined they were being phubbed while viewing a simulated conversation felt more negatively about the interaction than people who didn’t encounter phubbing. Even better, 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 one another.

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

1. Move 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.

2. Game-ify the Experience

If you’re having a real issue because your partner might be surfing Instagram 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.

3. 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 phones that they have no idea that they are looking at it more than you during the conversation. Instead of letting it get to you and spending time in a fight with your partner, pause the conversation and bring it to their attention calmly.

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