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Divorce By Phubbing

Divorce By Phubbing

Are you a phubber?  Is your partner?  Maybe you don't know what phubbing is, but I guarantee that you, a friend, or the one you love is GUILTY as sin of phubbing on a regular basis.

You know that awkward feeling when you're trying to talk to your boo and instead of talking to you, he is scrolling through his Facebook feed?  Welp, there's a name for that— PHUBBING. The fun mash-up of "phone" and "snubbing" is described as the phenomenon when one ignores her companion and instead pays attention to her mobile device.  In a study conducted by Meredith David and James A. Roberts, "partner phubbing" is defined as "the extent to which an individual uses or is distracted by his/her cell phone while in the company of his/her relationship partner."  

Increasingly, relationships are being impacted by phubbing.  Perhaps its not as prevalent as other major relationship issues such as infidelity, but its effects are notable. There is nothing worse than sitting across the table from someone who would rather send text messages to another person who is NOT at the dinner rather than engage with you.   My husband has phubbed me before as have friends and other family members.  I've been in situations where I'm telling an interesting story and the other person becomes so engrossed in what's happening on the other end of the phone that they totally shut me out.  They then are forced to halfheartedly apologize and ask me to repeat my statement or story.  That's unacceptable!

Here's an interesting fact: the typical American checks his or her smartphone once every six-and-a-half minutes.  That's approximately 150 times per day!  Imagine, then, that during a typical 2 hour dinner, a person is programmed to check their smartphone roughly 18 times from appetizers through dessert!  And it's more prevalent than many of us are willing to admit. There are many aspects of life that technology has impacted.  Sadly, one of those is relationships and the overall quality of our communication with others.  It almost seems that we have to make an extra effort to have a regular old-fashioned conversation with our loved ones because of our increasing reliance upon and addiction to our devices. The 24 hour news feed is perhaps the worst thing to happen to our ability to communicate, and the smartphone is the catalyst to this breakdown.  

When I dine out, I always notice how disconnected people have become.  It never fails - whether it be a romantic Italian restaurant or a local burger joint, I am amazed by how the presence of smartphones is sometimes equal to the number of diners at the table.  I once witnessed a family of 5 ranging in age from 10 to 50 focused so much on their devices that they went through an entire dinner without engaging with one another.  It saddens me most often when I see couples sitting at the dinner table, both on cell phones.  There seems to be no connection and such sadness as they sit there passing the time away not talking.  It's even worse when one person is on the phone while the other person sits there casually moving food around their plate.  There is so much emptiness in those moments and it always hits me in the gut when I see it.  The partner who phubs is essentially sending a message to their partner that the time with them is not as important as whatever is going on in the cell phone world.  

I can't lie and say that I've never checked my phone during an intimate time with my husband, but I can say that each time I've done it I've felt badly.  You see, as someone who has been on the receiving end of phubbing, I can report that I've felt abandoned, bored, unimportant, embarrassed, and angry when it happens. Because of that, I am cognizant not to do it to someone else if I can help it.

So if you are a phubber, what can you do to change things?  For one, you can ignore your phone instead of ignoring your partner.  If that's easier said than done, then consider leaving your phone at home when you go out on dates.  If you phub within the home, consider placing your phone on a charger in a separate room while you are enjoying quality time.  Trust me - you can be detached from that phone for an hour or so.

If you are on the receiving end of phubbing, there are some things you can do to call it to your partner's attention.  The first is to address it head on.  Try saying something like, "honey, do you mind putting your phone to the side while we enjoy our dinner?"  If that doesn't work, then try to avoid having the awkward encounter in public and instead address it more firmly at home.  Let your partner know how it makes you feel when you are essentially a third wheel on your own date!

The bottom line is this: of all the challenges that couples face, why allow something as trivial as a news feed or Instagram to strain your relationship?  Communication is one of the toughest things to master in relationships - don't let a smartphone ruin the conversation...

Have you phubbed?  Have you been phubbed? How did it make you feel?

Extra Credit: A Man Cave Saved My Marriage and  I Don't Like My Husband

Photo Credit: Jacob Ufkes

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