How Phone Snubbing Is Impacting On Our Intimate Relationships

How Phone Snubbing Is Impacting On Our Intimate Couple Relationships

Read this and then …….PUT THE PHONE DOWN!

After being away for the weekend with friends, I jumped into bed last night while my husband was already tucked up ‘checking the football gossip’. His face lit up by the glow of a smart phone. I waited about 2 minutes patiently to see if I was going to get any attention and then I said gently ‘Put your phone done and give me a cuddle’ I had missed him and wanted to reconnect, to which (thankfully) he dutifully obliged.

So when I arrived into work this morning and was asked to write a blog on the topic I thought absolutely!

How is phubbing impacting our couple relationships?

And now, the Research backs this up. A recent relationship study found that phubbing ‘significantly and negatively predicted marital satisfaction’. According to their study of 145 adults, phubbing decreases couple satisfaction, in part because it leads to conflict over phone use. The scientists found that phubbing, by lowering couple satisfaction, affected a partner’s depression and satisfaction with life. The study also found that people who were in a couple relationship with someone who was phubbing tended to be less satisfied with their life overall as the distracted relationship weighed them down.

Relationships can be difficult to navigate in 2023.The impact of the COVID 19 Pandemic created a gap in the regular experiences of meeting, conversing, studying together, meeting friends and socialising. Lockdown and on-line life interrupted all our lives, while isolation and anxiety surged. Technologies like the smartphone and social media now play a role in some of the most intimate parts of our lives. The basic conduct of couple relationships and all kinds of other intimate interactions are now filtered through devices and software which shapes each interaction and is having an impact on the quality of our relationships.

Are these new forms of communication deepening or inhibiting the ability for couples to meaningfully connect to each other?

Well the research indicates that if you’re phubbing then the chances of a long term relationship working out are much lower as they get tired of the sight of your face as it lights up more when you look at your phone than when you look at your partner. If my husband had not put his phone down when requested, you can imagine how that scenario could have played out differently……. A bid for connection rejected, bitterness, resentment, lack of communication and maybe the silent treatment.

In our 21st Century digital age it would seem that we are more connected now than ever before, but the quality and impact of these connections are not serving us. Every relationship has the capacity to be an agent of change. Through our interactions with one another we can grow as individuals, couples and families.

How can we ensure that our relationships are protected?

Healthy relationships are based on a set of values, which typically include kindness, trust, reciprocity, vulnerability and challenge. Behaviours include: regular reflection, boundary setting, shared goal setting and showing up. Knowledge and skills include: self-awareness, active listening, emotional identification, assertive articulation of needs and conflict resolution.

If your smart phone is impinging on any or even all of these, then maybe it’s time to rethink it’s use.

So what is ‘phubbing’?

Well I think I have described it in the scenario above but it comes from a mixture of the words ‘phone’ and ‘snubbing’ where you’re spending time with that someone special but every time your phone pings it becomes the centre of your attention.

I certainly am not alone on this issue, given the amount of conversations I have with colleagues and friends and family members about phubbing, I just didn’t know there was a term for it.

Phubbing is the practice of snubbing others in favour of our mobile phones. We’ve all been there, as either the phubber or phubee. We may no longer even notice when we’ve been phubbed (or are phubbing), it has become such a normal part of life.

However, research studies are revealing the profound impact phubbing can have on our most important relationships.

Rather than paying attention to the romantically connected human being right in front of us we’ll be paying attention to our phone to keep up with the latest updates from the group chat/ read the latest love island/football/ or TikTok news.

There is an irony about phubbing. When we’re paying attention to our phones, we’re often connecting with some one/thing on social media or through texting. Sometimes, we’re scrolling through our pictures the way we once turned the pages of photo albums, remembering wonderful moments with people we love. Unfortunately, however, this can ruthlessly disrupt our actual, right now, in the moment, face to face relationships, which also tend to be the most important ones.