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Updated: Nov 2, 2021

Do you feel irritated when the person you are interacting with opts to use their phone instead of contributing to the conversation or paying attention? Isn’t it worse when that person is your spouse? Does it feel like your spouse is married to their phone lately?

Consciously or unconsciously, many couples are experiencing the challenges of Phubbing!

What is “Phubbing”? You may ask, well, Phubbing is the act of snubbing (ignoring) the people you’re hanging out with and instead giving that attention to a mobile phone. This is an act that is currently trending, and not in a good way.

Ducharme, a researcher with Time Magazine, claims that psychologists support phubbing as a growing social issue, which is significantly affecting relationships. The idea of losing a friend or partner to social media during interaction many describe as “disturbing and annoying.” Healthline highlights that 32% of people claim to be affected by phubbing for at least three or more times daily, and 17% phub others more than four times a day. Such statistics indicate the profound spread of the challenge, making it vital to understand the impact of phubbing on relationships.

In relationships, people crave intimacy, and phubbing gets in the way of this dream by interfering with the commitment of spouses to the conversation. Arguments over spending more time on the phone as opposed to one on one interactions are emerging as a norm and leading to divorce. MailOnline echoes the words of a domestic law expert who maintains that mistrust, suspicion, misgivings, and arguments are fruits of phubbing. Those affected by phubbing feel neglected and are wary of their partner’s actions, which can lead to emotional infidelity. Compromising on face to face interactions may lead to building conversations online, which are exciting and satisfactory, but at the price of it being experienced as emotional infidelity.

Some couples, and many individuals, classify phubbing as a disrespectful habit leading to higher dissatisfaction levels in relationships where the practice is common. From a family-based perspective, phubbers initiate emotional problems in their relationship by creating a disconnect in times when the couple should be bonding. The time that couples should spend together interacting and sharing fun moments is replaced by one person favoring their phone and making other connections online. The habit makes feel like the partner gives more attention to their phone compared to their marriage and creates an emotional divide since the majority do not share their feelings on this issue.

The use of the phone can be addictive in nature. It may affect the mental health of the phubber, similar to the impact of drugs and other dangerous substances. Emma Seppala, an associate director on Altruism research at Stanford, suggests that the urge to use social media overcomes the desire for pleasures like intercourse, which affects sex in marriages. The addiction leads the individual to phub their partner and not realize the need for sexual connection, which is crucial for the survival of any relationship.

Ideally, the best remedy is to get rid of smart phones completely, but let’s be realistic, in today’s society having a phone has become a necessity. And while technology has helped us connect to loved ones who might be far away, it can also distance us from the people near us.

There are several ways to deal with phubbing:

  1. Make your meals a No-Phone-Zone. If you are eating at home, leave your phone charging in your room, or simply put it away. Do not use your phone until meal time is over. My recommendation is no screen time at all, so that includes TV as well.

  2. If you’re going outside the house, leave the phone behind or put it in silent and leave it in your purse or in your pocket during face-to-face interaction.

  3. Encourage others not to use their mobile during meals and interactions by being a role model.

  4. Some smart phones (like iPhones) have the option to automatically set your phone to “off-screen time” during certain times. Make the commitment to stop using your phone during certain time (bedtime does not count as off-screen time).

  5. Create more awareness of how phubbing affects relationships. Like I said before, this is an unconscious behavior to some.

It is clear that phubbing in relationships is increasing in popularity, and a majority of those engaging in the behavior are not aware of the impact in their relationships. In a day and age where our attention is being pulled in multiple directions, it is important to be aware of where time is going to, so becoming intentional of the use of the phone is crucial for the health of a relationship.

To your relationship success!

Your therapy friend,


If you would like to check out the health of your relationship, click the link below to get feedback and tips on how to enhance your connection

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