You got a babysitter and made a reservation at your favorite Saturday-night spot. But every time you look across the table, your husband is staring at his phone, scrolling through ESPN. Um, hello?!, you were in the middle of a story.
This is “phubbing,” the act of snubbing someone with your phone. (Yes, it’s a real word, thanks to the 2016 Oxford Dictionary.) And look, no one is innocent. We’re all guilty of phubbing—you, your S.O., even your kids. So here’s everything you need to know about the epidemic.
Why is phubbing so bad for relationships? Well, according to a study (found via Emma Seppälä’s eye-opening article in The Washington Post), choosing your phone over your partner leads to lower marital satisfaction and more fights. Even just the presence of a phone during a conversation with your husband, wife, kids or even casual friends can make you appear less present. Why? Well, when someone’s attention is elsewhere, we feel unheard, unseen and unimportant. (Insert sad face emoji.)
Why is it so common? As you’ve probably noticed, everybody is phubbing. That’s because, as another study points out, it’s a vicious cycle. When you’re being ignored, you want to connect with something. So what do you do? You go to your phone. You connect with likes, hearts and emojis. Now everyone’s on their phone, and no one’s present.
How do we stop it? Be more cognizant about how your phone use makes others feel—especially the people closest to you. Set a phones-off policy during dinner. Make eye contact, and don’t worry about that Instagram notification. The common denominator that has us all locked to our phones? The desire to feel connected. It’s time to reconnect with the person right in front of you.