Sidebarring Is Something People Are Doing On Dates & It’s Rude AF

You’re at dinner with your partner and they’re more interested in checking their social media notifications than hearing about how stressful your day at work was. Ugh. You’re being sidebarred. Here’s what you need to know about this trend—and no, it’s not the same thing as phubbing because it can get really nasty.

  1. Sidebarring is the rudest thing you can do with your phone. Other than throwing it at someone’s head, that is! And it doesn’t just happen on dates. Sidebarring can happen during work meetings or outings with friends. Ever looked at a table of people in a restaurant and one or two were typing furiously on their phones, completely ignoring the others? Yup, it’s really common to spot sidebarring all around you.
  2. Sidebarring takes phubbing to the next level. While phubbing is when a person pays attention to their phone instead of you on a date, usually sidebarring involves a secret conversation or gossip session. Basically, how it can play out is that the person you’re on a date with will be texting their friend to tell the other person that they’re having a horrible time. Or, someone out with Friend 1 will be texting Friend 2 and having a gossip session about Friend 1 right in front of them. Damn!
  3. Sometimes it’s not about gossip but making you feel invisible. Sometimes sidebarring is when your date or friend checks their phone and has a long conversation with someone via text while you’re sitting there wondering why they have to be so rude. They might not be talking about you but they’re acting like you’re not there. Or worse, they’re acting like they’re totally listening to you even though you know they’re not paying attention.
  4. Sidebarring is seen as acceptable by many people. A Facebook study found that 71% of people are guilty of sidebarring people they’re with, and a whopping 82% of millennials do it. Ugh. Some people think sidebarring is a cool multitasking skill to have, but it’s not a skill—it’s a social diss!
  5. It’s impossible to text and talk. Here’s something to tell someone who can’t stop sidebarring you on a date: a study published in the Journal of Neuroscience found that it’s impossible to text and pay attention to a conversation you’re having in RL (or that you’re supposed to be having). So even if they claim they’re just texting a friend who’s in hospital, it’s still rude. Unless it’s a real emergency, they shouldn’t be texting. Besides, in life-or-death emergencies, people pick up the phone and make a call, so they really have no excuse.
  6. It makes your date a social a-hole. It’s just not on to have to stare at someone staring at their phone when they should be listening to what you’re saying. When they say, “I just have to check this text,” what it really feels like they’re saying is, “I’m bored and just want to be left alone with my phone.”
  7. It’s just as bad when that phone’s on the table instead of in his hand. Granted, men don’t usually carry bags in which to pop their cell phones, but a pocket is fine. Why does their phone have to be out on the table? You keep seeing their eyes dart to the screen to check what messages have come through—and as a sidebarrer, they’re probably not going to hesitate to check any juicy ones.
  8. Sidebarring adds to social stress. If you’re wondering who the hell your date needs to text so urgently, knowing that sidebarring and gossip go hand in hand can make you feel even more infuriated. You might wonder if they’re talking about you to someone (and they just might be).
  9. It’s even worse during group dates. You can see that two people are busy on their phones even though they’re oblivious to you noticing. You can see how they try to hide their phones unsuccessfully—dudes, what else would you be doing, staring at your lap in the middle of dinner? It’s so annoying. Sure, they might not be talking about you or the date that’s currently underway, but it’s enough to make you feel like crap.
  10. You don’t have to put up with it (and you shouldn’t). When someone’s guilty of sidebarring you and it’s testing your patience, ask them outright, “I’m sorry, am I boring you?” That should alert them to what they’re doing and make them realize that they’re being a total jerk. It’s better than trying to look really interested in your salad while they punch away at their keyboard. If that doesn’t help, leave. You deserve to be on a date with someone who gives a damn about what you have to say.
  11. Add sidebarring to your dating dealbreakers. If someone’s sidebarring you all the time, kick their ass out of your life. You don’t need to be with someone who makes you feel like you don’t matter. One of your dating standards should be to not waste any time with someone who sidebars you. If your date leaves their phone on the table but doesn’t check it once, that’s awesome. Even better is the date who keeps their phone out of sight, tucked away in a pocket and doesn’t care to look at it because it’s on silent. Now they’re a keeper.
Giulia Simolo is a writer from Johannesburg, South Africa with a degree in English Language and Literature. She has been working as a journalist for more than a decade, writing for sites including AskMen, Native Interiors, and Live Eco. You can find out more about her on Facebook and LinkedIn, or follow her on Twitter @GiuliaSimolo.