What is ‘phubbing’ and how is it impacting your relationships?

‘Phubbing’ is when you snub someone by giving your phone attention instead of them. A common practice that can detrimentally impact your relationships.

What is ‘phubbing’?

‘Phubbing’ is the act of snubbing someone by paying attention to your phone instead of the person you are with. To put it simply, it’s phone snubbing. For example, imagine you are sitting at dinner with your friend or partner and they pull out their phone to check a notification or reply to a message. They may pretend they’re still listening, but it is a well-known fact that our brains cannot focus on two things at once. They are choosing to engage with their phone rather than with you. Although the term ‘phubbing’ was first coined in 2013, it is becoming increasingly prevalent in relationships, friendships, and family dynamics as our population becomes more reliant on their phones.

How does ‘phubbing’ impact our relationships?

Phubbing is perceived as impolite, but it's also proven to be detrimental to relationships. A study found that if one person texts during a conversation in real-life (IRL), the other person perceives them as less polite and less attentive, and both parties find the conversation of a lower quality, even for the phone-snubber.
In marriages and romantic relationships, phone use has been linked to relationship dissatisfaction. Phubbing leads to lower levels of trust and stability in the relationship and even impacts the personal self-esteem of the person being "phubbed." The study also found that if one partner is getting ‘phubbed,’ they’re more likely to do it back. This suggests that phubbing is not just a one-way street, but that both partners are likely to engage in it, which can lead to feelings of isolation, insecurity, and dissatisfaction.

Are you a ‘phubber’?

Most of us have been guilty of this at one time or another, but if you identify with the following traits, you may be a serial ‘phubber’:
  1. You instinctively get your phone out of your pocket when you sit down and feel the need to have your phone near you at all times.
  1. You find yourself constantly checking your phone during a conversation, when in the presence of friends or meal times.
  1. You find yourself engaging in conversation less and fill gaps in conversation with phone use.
Snubbing your partner or friends for your phone is negatively impacting stability and happiness in relationships
Snubbing your partner or friends for your phone is negatively impacting stability and happiness in relationships

How to stop ‘phubbing’

If you're guilty of phubbing or want to help someone else stop, here are a few pointers to help you avoid being a phone snubber:

1. Put your phone away

This one might seem obvious, but it can make a big difference when you're not constantly staring at your phone. Put it in your pocket or in another room and make a conscious effort to keep it out of sight and out of mind.

2. Establish phone-free zones

Set aside certain times of the day or specific places (like the dinner table or bedroom) where phone use is prohibited. This will give you IRL face time without distraction. A great place to kickstart this is at an Unplugged cabin.

3. Speak up and go phone-less together

Make it a two-way street. If you're the one being phubbed, speak up and then set a boundary together. Agree that for the next hour, you'll both be entirely present and hold each other accountable.

4. Remember the memories without your phone

Remind yourself of the good memories and moments you had without your phone. Most of our best memories and conversations happen when we are present in the moment and tech-free.

5. See it as a challenge

Like a cold shower in the morning, set it up as a challenge. Can you spend 1 hour without looking at your phone whilst you’re in a social setting? Holding yourself accountable can help you achieve your goal.
Set boundaries by having phone free zones such as the dinner table
Set boundaries by having phone free zones such as the dinner table
By being conscious of your phone use and making a conscious effort to put it away, you can ensure that your relationships remain strong and healthy. A great way to reset and truly connect with your partner or friends is to take a break and book an "Unplugged" cabin. Lock away your phone and enjoy a phubbing-free time together. With no distractions, you can focus on building deeper connections and making lasting memories. Book your escape here.

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