You’re on a hot date at a nice restaurant. You raise your glass to propose a romantic toast. But your date is on her cellphone.
You’ve been phubbed.
Phubbing is the term coined to describe the act of snubbing someone in a social setting by looking at your cellphone instead of paying attention to them.
We’ve all seen it happen at kids’ sporting events, family gatherings, business luncheons and even weddings.
The message it sends is loud and clear to anyone watching: “I’m bored with you. My cellphone is more important.”
Phubbing has far-reaching impacts on our relationships and emotional well-being. Researchers James A. Roberts, Ph.D., and Meredith David, Ph.D., at Baylor University, studied 453 U.S. adults to learn the effects of partner phone snubbing. Their study, published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior, first created a nine-point scale of common phubbing behaviors, such as:
▪ My partner places his cellphone where they can see it when we are together.
▪ My partner glances at her cellphone when talking to me.
▪ If there is a lull in the conversation, my partner will check his cellphone.
Next, romantic couples were asked to respond to the survey and rate the satisfaction they experience in their relationship. Nearly half (46.3 percent) reported being phubbed by their partners. Twenty-two percent said phubbing caused conflict in their relationship. Only 32 percent reported being satisfied with their partners.
According to Roberts, subjects who were less secure in their relationships were more troubled by their partners’ phubbing. Those who were dissatisfied were more likely to report being depressed.
Added Roberts: “Something as common as cellphone use can undermine the bedrock of our happiness — our relationships with our romantic partners.”
Most of us don’t even know we’re phubbing. Glancing at our phones is so commonplace that the behavior either goes unnoticed or is the norm in particular settings. The key is in recognizing your audience and giving them the attention they deserve.
Of course, there are times when checking cellphones is warranted. If you’re awaiting news of a family member’s surgery or the possible cancellation of a flight, it’s OK to stay close to your Galaxy. Even so, it’s good manners to apprise others of the situation so they don’t think they’re being phubbed.
Linda Lewis Griffith is a local marriage and family therapist. For information or to contact her, visit lindalewisgriffith.com.
How to stop phubbing:
- Create cellphone free times of your day.
- Keep your cellphone out of sight when you’re with friends or family members.
- Break the habit of checking your phone when you’re bored. Find other ways to entertain yourself. Or learn to sit quietly and do nothing for short periods of time.
- Prioritize the people in your life. Decide who you absolutely do NOT want to offend with your phone.
- Catch others in the act of phubbing. Point out their indiscretion and let them know it bothers you.
- Make your office or waiting room a cellphone-free zone. Place posters and placards advising others of the status.
- Go to www.stopphubbing.com for more suggestions.