The internet has given us everything from ‘Catfishing’ to ‘ghosting,’ over the years. And while most of us have never created an online profile pretending to be someone that we’re not, experts are warning of a new trend that most of us have never heard of, but all of us are guilty of.
‘Phubbing’ is the new term for when you inadvertently ignore your spouse (or the people you’re with) by opting to stare at your phone instead. Snubbing someone through the use of your phone. Phubbing.
It’s a part of our everyday life, and though it may seem relatively harmless, research shows that phubbing may be damaging yo your relationships and overall mental health.
“Ironically, phubbing is meant to connect you, presumably, with someone through social media or texting,” says Emma Seppälä, a psychologist at Stanford and Yale universities and author of the Happiness Track. “But it actually can severely disrupt your present-moment, in-person relationships.
My husband and I are totally guilty of this. We’re not on the level of those people who sit across from each other at a restaurant on their phones and literally have zero interaction with each other, but we are guilty of sitting on the couch late at night and digging ourselves into separate black holes on social media.
I’ve even noticed myself do it out of habit—open my phone and start scrolling—in the middle of conversations with groups of people. Picture this: I’m sitting on my friend’s couch, and a group of us are in a conversation. There comes a point where I’m merely listening, not contributing words, so I, without even thinking about it, open up my phone and begin scrolling.
There’s nothing for me on there! I’m literally sitting, present in a group of people, and out of mindless habit, I’m ignoring them by throwing myself into the meaningless world of Instagram?
And Y’all, take it from me, phubbing does not usually happen on purpose. Like, I understand if you’re in an elevator with a stranger, or waiting in line at the DMV. But on no occasion, and under no circumstance would I ever choose my phone or social media over time with my husband. And yet, I do it on a daily basis without even thinking about it.
Several studies have shown that phubbing makes face-to-face interactions less meaningful.
I mean, how many of us have been on the receiving end of a phub? You’re mid-story, about to get to the good part, and your friend gets a text on her watch. The second she looks down, you know you’ve lost her and then what’s the point of even finishing the story. Now she’s fully consumed with whatever just took place in her texts.
And that’s just one experience on a friendship level. Think about how Phubbing is affecting your marriage.
Sex therapist Vanessa Marin says phubbing can affect your romantic relationships by causing a disconnect and even lowering your libido.
“Most of us tend to think that our cell phone habits aren’t a big deal, but the reality is that our phones are causing a ton of tension in our relationships,” she says. “How many times have you tried to connect with your partner, only to see them buried in their cell phones? You and your partner are missing countless opportunities to connect with each other.”
The good news is: You CAN stop phubbing.
Even a chronic phubber can overcome the urge to scroll. It’s all about setting healthy boundaries and practicing good cell phone habits to combat your natural impulse.
Here are 5 cell phone tips and tricks to stop phubbing and get back to healthy relationships.
1. Do Not Disturb
Y’all, this might be one of my favorite functions on an iPhone. With just one click of a button, all of my texts and emails will continue coming through, but I won’t hear or feel the buzz notification for either one.
2. Push Notifications
I’ve even taken it a step further and turned off all push notifications so that my alerts only show up in the little red dot on each app, rather than in an alert with a preview across my lock screen.
3. Establish Sacred Times
This will likely look different for every couple, but something my husband and I do is turn off our cell phones AND stash them away in another room once dinner starts. They stay there until we set our alarms to wake up in the morning. We don’t typically use our computers or anything at night, so for us it’s only the cell phones, but this helps us to establish a connectedness to each other, and not unintentionally fall into the trap of scrolling or looking something up. We’ve even talked about getting a digital alarm clock so that our phones don’t have to be turned back on until the morning.
Another way we establish sacred times is by only bringing one phone with us when we go out to eat. I’m a chronic phubber, while my husband is only just a phubber, so we usually bring his phone in. But it stays in his pocket, and we only have it with us in case of an emergency.
4. Delete the Apps
You can have a Facebook and use it responsibly. One of the best ways we’ve been able to put an end to our phubbing is by deleting social media apps from our phones. We both still have a virtual presence, it can still be checked and used on a desktop or a different device, but we don’t have the simplicity of mindlessly opening an app like Facebook or Instagram.
5. Protect Your Bed
We already talked about how our cell phones are threatening our sex lives. Those suckers are getting in the way plenty outside of the bedroom, don’t give it the power to do so in the one sacred space reserved for intimacy.
For most of us, phubbing is a habit that happens by mistake. But for our own mental health, and the health of our relationships, it’s important that we’re mindful of it, and proactive in setting boundaries that protect our marriage and friendships.