“Phubbing” is a horrible dating trend, and it’s possible you’ve already been doing it
Apparently, the dating scene has become so saturated with horrible trends that we need wonky-sounding portmanteaus to describe them. Enter “phubbing,” or phone snubbing, which is ruining relationships. It seems far too many people appear to be more in love with their cellphones than their significant others.
According to Thrillist, the term gained popularity in Australia and the UK and was the topic of a recent study conducted by Baylor University that basically confirmed what we already know: Cellphone use can totally disconnect our relationships.
More than likely, phubbing is something that you’ve either already been doing or experienced, especially if you’re dating or married and own a smart phone.
Baylor University professors James A. Roberts and Meredith David authored the study in which they conducted two separate surveys of more than 450 U.S. adults to highlight how often people use or become distracted by their phones when spending time with their partners, a behavior they describe as “Pphubbing,”or “partner phubbing.”
The first study required subjects to assign a numeric value to the frequency of their partners’ cell phone usage on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 meaning “never” and 5 being “all the time.” Using those responses, Roberts and David came up with a set of “commonly identified snubbing behaviors” and asked the participants to answer questions about their partners’ phone habits based on that scale.
Published in the journal Computers In Human Behavior, the study’s findings showed that there’s a lot of phubbing going on among couples, and regardless of whether you’re delivering the phubbing or are on the receiving end of the behavior, it’s not doing your relationship any favors.
Overall, 46.3 percent of respondents reported being phubbed by their partners; however, only 22.6 percent said it caused issues in their relationship. Additionally, the study found that relationships can even be negatively impacted by brief phone-related distractions, which may lead one partner to become increasingly dissatisfied.
"Cellphones, originally designed as a communication tool, may actually, ironically, impede rather than cultivate satisfying communications and relationships among romantic partners," Roberts and David said in a statement. "Although dialing back your total cellphone usage may be difficult, especially if you use it to work away from the office or on the go, a good place to start is with reducing your cellphone usage around your significant other."
An additional study conducted in 2015 by researchers at Brigham Young University used the broader term “technoference,” which essentially refers to any form of technology that interferes with your relationship by taking your attention away from your partner.
According to Psychology Today, the study found a link between increased cell phone usage and a decreased level of relationship satisfaction. Most notably, the site writes that this is the first study to show that “a person’s engagement with technology can actually make their partner depressed.”
"Specifically, higher levels of technoference were associated with greater relationship conflict and lower relationship satisfaction. Further, it seems greater levels of smartphone and other relationship technoference makes people more depressed and lowers their overall life satisfaction," the site notes.
Oh, cellphone, destroyer of relationships, we clearly can’t live without you, and we also can’t live with you without you wrecking our relationships. So what’s a person to do if they want to remain connected to their partner and the world? How are we supposed to maintain a healthy relationship without our S.O.s feeling like they’re playing third fiddle to a phone?
For starters, whoever is committing the offense of phubbing should consider the fact that it’s rude (srsly, there’s a Facebook page dedicated to stopping the act of phubbing), and it totally makes their partner feel neglected. If you’re more interested in what’s going on with your phone than you are with the person you’re dating, it might be time to reassess your relationship to find out what technology is giving you that this in-person bond isn’t.