Recently, I went out to a new Italian restaurant for dinner with my partner. Whether it was because we had actually ventured out of the house for once (rather than our usual ritual of sitting side by side on the lounge eating pizza and watching Netflix) or because I was going away the next day and knew my time was limited, I kept my mitts off my phone for once. “This felt different,” my boyfriend remarked after dinner. “It was really nice.”
It got me thinking. Although my partner and I spend a lot more time together than many other couples (we often both work from home), I realised that it’s not always quality time. When we’re not working away on our respective computers, we’re often both scrolling on our phones while having a conversation (okaaay, mainly me—I have a problem). Yep, sad but true. Turns out, there’s a name for what I’ve been inadvertently doing to my partner—and that I’m not alone. It’s called phubbing and it’s an epidemic ravaging relationships all over the world.
What is phubbing?
Phubbing is the term for snubbing someone by using your phone rather than giving them your undivided attention. And according to new research from Baylor University, it can have serious implications on your relationship. In the study, the researchers asked 308 adults to create a ‘partner phubbing scale’ based on nine things people said bothered them about their S.O’s phone use. This included things that most of us are guilty of, like reaching for our phones during conversations or placing our devices face up on the table. Of the 145 adults surveyed, 46% reported that their partner had phubbed them, 36% said this depressed them and perhaps most concerningly, 22.6% said it affected their relationship.
“When you think about the results, they are astounding,” said Dr. James A. Roberts, professor of marketing and lead researcher on the study, in a press release. “Something as common as mobile phone use can undermine the bedrock of our happiness—our relationships with our romantic partners.”