What Is Phubbing & Are You Guilty Of It?

What Is Phubbing & Are You Guilty Of It? ©iStock/filadendron

If you’re wondering what the hell “phubbing” is, listen up. A blend of the words “phone” and “snubbing”, it’s basically a term used for ignoring your boyfriend (or anyone else you’re supposed to be paying attention to) because you’re too caught up with whatever’s happening on your phone. If you relate to any of the following, you’re probably guilty of it, and you need to disconnect:

  1. You’re just going to “quickly” check your messages… and then half an hour passes. You and your boyfriend sit down to eat at your favorite restaurant when you whip out your phone and say you’ll quickly check your email. But that one email is like a gateway drug. Soon, you’re checking out social media, texting your friends back, and overdosing on apps, all while he sits there asking you for the fifth time if you’re ready to order.
  2. You keep your phone on the table at all times. Instead of going in your bag, your phone sits on the table next to your wine glass, so it’s always within easy reach. When you hear that ping or beep, you simply have to check your phone. It might be really important, right?
  3. You check your phone while your boyfriend’s talking to you. Your boyfriend is telling you about his day when you hear your phone. You carefully reach for it while making sympathetic noises at your boyfriend, then glue your eyes to your screen while he carries on talking. You’re not even listening. Maybe you even feel he’s the one being rude. Can’t he see that you’re busy? Yikes, girl.
  4. You make screen contact more than you make eye contact. Maybe you don’t spend time on your phone when you’re with your boyfriend, but you can’t prevent your eyes from flicking to your screen to see who’s messaging you. If you can’t bear to be disconnected for any period of time, there’s a serious problem.
  5. You phub when bored. The conversation with your boyfriend hits a bit of a quiet stretch, so you figure it’s fine to check your phone. Instead of signing out of your quality time together, try to focus on connecting. Even if you’re Googling tips on interesting conversation topics, using your phone during a quiet moment is still a slap in the face. Besides, you’re missing out on sharing a laugh or an intimate moment that you’ll never get again.
  6. You phub because he does. Maybe you see the top of your partner’s head more than his face because he’s the one guiltiest of looking down at his phone, so you figure it’s cool for you to do it, too. It’s time for a ‘no phones allowed’ policy on dates. Seriously, your relationship depends on it. A study by researchers at Baylor University found that even momentary distractions on your phone can add up and lead to relationship dissatisfaction as well as depression.
  7. You’re nomophobic. You experience withdrawal symptoms when you’re not close to your phone, such as anxiety or restlessness. Nomophobia is the fear of being without your phone and if you experience such strong symptoms of it, it could be contributing to your desire to phub. Try to resist the impulse to check your phone, at least for a few minutes at a time before making the intervals longer. This will slowly break the ugly phubbing habit that’s isolating you from your partner.
  8. You have no idea what happened in the last three hours. You know you were chilling with your partner, but you’ve been so busy on your phone that you wouldn’t have noticed if he’d been abducted by aliens. HOURS have passed, lost to the black hole that is smartphones. Damn. If that doesn’t tell you you’re a phubber, nothing will.
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.