How to Stop Phubbing in Relationships

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Have you ever communicated with people who hold a mobile phone on the table and periodically look at it? Have you ever faced a situation when you want to say anything important to a partner, but your loved one just nods to you, looking at the phone? The simple truth is that you have encountered such a phenomenon as phubbing. What is phubbing and how dangerous can it be for a relationship? Let's take a look at the phubbing meaning and consider some useful tips on how to stop phubbing around.

phubbing meaning

Phubbing: Origin and Meaning

In recent years, phubbing has already become a ubiquitous phenomenon. It occurs with the same frequency in huge cities and small towns. The very term "phubbing" is a portmanteau of two words "phone" and "snubbing" and was included in the Macquarie Dictionary in 2013. Phubbing is an obsessive habit of modern people to check their smartphone during a live dialogue with someone without parting with their phone even for a minute, thereby, expressing disregard of an interlocutor. People who commit such acts are called “phubbists" or “phubbers.”

Phubbing is a kind of dependence on virtual communication, when people want to be needed by someone, but not here and now, in their family, at work, at a business meeting, or having dinner with a loved one, but needed by someone who is far away, in a much more interesting world called the Internet. More recently, phubbing has become an occasion for countless jokes in social networks and phubbing memes. So, it is important to know the answer to the question, “What does phubbing mean?”

How Does Phubbing Affect a Relationship?

It is not enough to know the phubbing definition to deal with it. You should also realize what negatives effects it may have. Therefore, let’s consider how phubbing affects a romantic relationship.

1. Sex deterioration

Psychotherapist Jan Kerner, who has written many books on interpersonal relationships, proves that it is phubbing that undermines the sex life of many couples. He claims that phones are a kind of a sedative for stress and a means to escape from the problems of the real world. Therefore, both men and women experience with their gadgets an emotional connection which is considered unhealthy. If staying in bed, one of the partners begins to check their email or social networks, then at the subconscious level, their loved ones receive the following message, "There are things more important and interesting than sex with you." This is especially hurtful for women who are sensitive to such things and, what is more, healthy sexuality is one of the signs of female attraction. The resentment accumulates over time, poisons intimate relationships, and worsens the quality of sex.

2. Lack of attention to a loved one

Phubbers usually do not realize that they are suffering from such a problem and do not understand the harm that they do to others and themselves. Ignorance of real life and the desire to respond to a message, reply to a post on social networks, read new comments, and so on – all this leads to blurring of reality. Constant monitoring of the phone turns a person into a kind of zombie. Phubber in a “started state” is no longer able to devote 100% of attention to a loved one. The maximum that a partner can count on is 40-50% of the phubber’s time.

3. Inability to listen and hear a partner

Most of the time, phubbers just pretend to be listening to you and almost do not hear what you are saying. They neither feel your mood nor respond to your signals and emotions. They seem to be looking at you and even assenting to your words, but if you look at their hands, where a phubber clasps the mobile phone, you quickly understand everything. Women love men who are able to give them a sympathetic ear. So, take it into account when dealing with girls looking for dates.phubbing definition

4. Your communication becomes less intimate

Phubbing becomes a cause of deterioration in relationships as it creates the preconditions for conflicts between people in love. This is confirmed by numerous psychological studies, which showed that the very presence of a phone at hand — even if a person does not use it — makes communication between partners less sincere and intimate, especially when they discuss things that are important for both of them.

5. Loss of empathy and connection with a partner

Sherry Turkle, a professor of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, argues that communication via the phone makes people less sensitive to the feelings of others. Although typing a message is convenient, people cannot see facial expressions of their interlocutors and hear the intonations that are so important for understanding others. Moreover, the researchers proved that if there is a telephone within sight, people pay less attention to their interlocutors, and a conversation becomes more superficial. When people know that there is an opportunity to be distracted from a live conversation with someone, they see no reason in communicating with this person at a deeper level.

6. Loss of ability to be fully present in real life

Phubbing statistics is quite disappointing. More and more people start their day by reaching for the phone. On average, we spend about 8 hours a day on laptops, smartphones, and computers. 81% of users have their phones turned on twenty-four hours straight. More than half of the millennials say they use their phone all the time.

Each time you look at the phone screen, you stop noticing what is going on around you: your friends, beautiful scenery during a trip, or a loved one who sits in front of you on a romantic date. You simply get out of the present.

7. The emergence of trust issues

In addition to conflicts due to the frequent usage and checking of a phone, problems in relationships can begin when the use of the device by one of the partners becomes secretive. For example, when people set passwords on their phone and hide it from a loved one, or quickly put their gadgets in a pocket when a loved one enters the room. If this happens regularly, it causes concern and provokes a loss of confidence in the relationship.

Phubbing Unsatisfying Statistics

Researchers pay special attention to phubbing, as this phenomenon is gaining in popularity in more recent days. In particular, Dr. James Roberts and Dr. Meredith David of Baylor University conducted a study involving 453 Americans.

The first stage of the study consisted of compiling the types of personalities that pay too much attention to their phone when communicating with a loved one. The first type is people who, during personal meetings, put down the phone so that they have the ability to control it all the time. The second type is people who constantly hold the phone in their hands. People of the third type have a habit of looking at the smartphone while talking with a partner. Representatives of the fourth type check the phone when there is a pause during a conversation.

At the next stage of the study, scientists proposed this qualification as a test to 145 adult respondents who chose the type of personality that is most suitable for their partners. The results showed that more than half of the respondents (46.3%) consider their loved one to be dependent on phubbing. About one fourth (22.6%) call phubbing one of the main causes of conflicts in their romantic relationship. More than a third (36.6%) of the respondents noted that they periodically experience a feeling of depression – in particular, because their partners prefer telephone to live communication with them. Psychologists strongly recommend getting rid of such addiction to avoid depression and conflict situations in personal life.

How to Stop Phubbing in Relationships?

Does a smartphone take up a large part of your life? It's time to get rid of the most harmful habit of the 21st century - keep hold of the phone - and start living in the real world. Moreover, it will save your relationship from quarrels and conflicts. And so, let's look at 10 simple tips on how to stop phubbing in relationships.

1. Analyze how you use your phone

The easiest thing to do to stop phubbing is to determine how much time you spend on your phone per day. Awareness of how you use the phone will help you take a more rational approach to handle it. Try to calculate how many times a day you check your phone for missed calls, new messages, or notifications. And then, a week later, analyze the data. The numbers will surprise you!

2. Give up a smartphone and buy a “simple” one

Well, a week has passed, and you got an idea of how frequently you use your phone. Perhaps you are so impressed with the results that you decide to choose the most obvious way to get rid of the addiction – use a device that provides the ability only to make calls and send SMS. After all, if it is impossible to install applications on the phone, then there is no temptation to constantly check them.

Ironically, most “simple” phone lovers can be found among developers who work in Silicon Valley. These people are mainly engaged in the production of different “addictive” applications, but with a “simple” phone, they are able to focus on their work better.

3. Remove useless apps

Another way to make your smartphone “simple,” and at the same time, preserve all its advantages is to remove applications that make you distracted or do not lead to a significant improvement of your life. If you honestly analyze each application set up on the phone, most likely, you will understand that only 20% of them make your life much easier and not distract you, while the remaining 80% of the apps are, to put it mildly, just entertaining. Seriously. How can checking Instagram every 10 minutes or moving to a new level in a game improve your life? Most likely, there is no way they can. Therefore, if you want to stop phubbing to focus more on the present and devote time to your loved one, get rid of useless applications.what is phubbing

4. Watch your sensations when getting stuck in the phone

Another important trick that many people forget about when trying to stop phubbing is to listen to their own feelings. When you once again find yourself getting stuck in the smartphone, evaluate how comfortable you are. Which is your body position? Do you feel relaxed? Do you really want to do this now and are you satisfied with it or, on the contrary, think that you are just bored and do not know what else to do? When you identify how you actually feel when getting stuck on the phone, it becomes much easier to move on and stop phubbing.

5. Pick up the phone less frequently

Keep your phone far from the bed to avoid the temptation to look at the cherished screen firstly in the morning. Do not take your smartphone to the bathroom (at least remember that high humidity is contraindicated for most of them). After some time, complicate the task and stop taking the phone also to the kitchen. Finally, try to completely abandon the habit of carrying your smartphone wherever you go in the apartment – let it be in one place all the time. At work, do not remove the phone from your bag or jacket for as long as possible. Make it a rule to leave it there during meetings with dearest people or on romantic dates with a loved one. In such a way, you take one more step to get rid of phubbing.

6. Communicate more with people without paying attention to the phone

This is the best solution for phubbing! After all, you should focus on interpersonal communication in real life without paying attention to the phone. To begin with, invite your loved one to go out somewhere on a date. But do not jump into a battle and leave home without your phone if you know in advance that it will be very difficult for you. It’s better to put it on mute and give yourself the word not to get your phone out of your pocket during a date. And of course, try your best to keep this word.

7. Search for hobbies in real life

People often resort to phubbing when they are at a loose end. Lack of interests and hobbies in real life often makes people start receiving positive emotions in the virtual world. Therefore, you should find new hobbies to keep yourself busy. Moreover, you have a loved one who is always ready to do something together with you. This will strengthen your relationships and make them happier.

8. Turn off the phone or turn on silent mode

To get started, try turning off the phone for half an hour on a weekend. Then, gradually increase this time. By and by, you will break yourself of a bad habit of keeping hold of your phone. Another option to stop phubbing is to mute notifications and leave the sound only for calls. Thus, you do not miss something really important, and the gadget does not constantly remind of itself.

9. Reward yourself for success

All people love to enjoy small prizes and awards for their successes and merits. This is great motivation! Therefore, try to turn ignoring your phone into kind of a quest. Keep track of the time spent without your phone. When you reach your goal, treat yourself to something pleasant.

10. Be kind and condescending

This tip has been prepared for those people who are dating with phubbers. Nobody likes to receive uninvited advice and listen to critical comments. You do not have to mansplain a grown-up partner if they do not ask you about it. There is no need to wean a “big boy” or a “big girl” from their favorite gadget. Of course, you can tell them about the information you have just read, but you should not inoculate your “right” vision of the world to your loved one.

Final Thoughts

In the modern era of fast-developing technologies, phones have already become an integral part of our daily living. But still, let's devote time to people we love and get more pleasure from real life! After all, it is only one. And it is wonderful, both with the phone and without it!

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