Have you heard of “phubbing?” It’s a new term that’s been coined to describe the act of snubbing someone in favor of your phone. In today’s modern dating world, most people have been both the phubber and the one being phubbed. Though the term phubbing sounds funny, the act itself can do damage to our relationships.

First Date Phubbing

Imagine yourself on a first date. Sitting across from you is an interesting person whom you are just getting to know. You were attracted to their JDate profile and are still figuring out if there will be a second date.

Now, in your imagination, check out the tabletop and register where both of your phones are. Right next to your plates, correct? And every once in a while you both glance at the phone’s clock (not necessarily because you’re bored, but because it’s habit), or check to see what that notification beep is (even though you know damn well you’re not expecting any important emails), or even just to fidget with the phone (because it’s there and again, habit).

What if you left your phone on silent and in your purse or pocket, but your date continued messing with their phone? You’d probably think that they weren’t very interested in you, right? You’d probably be surprised and hesitant to accept the offer of another date. I mean, the person kept checking their phone all night while you gave them the respect of leaving your phone where it should be – out of sight!

Relationship Phubbing

The same scenario tends to repeat itself in relationships once you get more comfortable with each other. Suddenly “Netflix and chill” means one person binge-watching a new series while the other is on their phone, the glow of the screen a tell-tale giveaway. In the car, the passenger is on their phone. At dinner, a comfortable silence becomes an excuse to scroll social media. The phone is plugged in and laying on the bedside table, the last thing to be checked before shut-eye and the first thing to be picked up in the morning. And they say romance is dead.

And guess what? None of this is acceptable. People are less tuned into each other and the phone is to blame. If you care about getting to know your date or keeping your relationship in a healthy place, then don’t let your phone continue to be the third wheel. It’s tough to admit, but our society in general has a nasty addiction. A Pew Research report says that 90% of American adults have a cell phone (which is not so unbelievable) but nearly a third of cell owners describe it as “something they can’t imagine living without” (which is pretty astounding to think about).

Another study proves that the mere presence of a cell phone disrupts relationship development – even when the phone isn’t being used. The authors of the study tested pairs of strangers with and without a phone on the table and then had the couples rate trust, empathy, relationship quality and the potential for friendship development. The interesting part was that the pairs who had a phone on the table that didn’t belong to either of them and that didn’t even ring, still disrupted the conversation. So the mere presence of a phone can alter the interaction and keep it from deepening because it diverts attention.

So, the next time you’re on a first date or a fortieth date, try to leave your phone on silent and/or tucked away. It’s understanding to need to check your phone if you have kids at home or an ill parent, but otherwise you don’t have much of an excuse. Stop phubbing your dates and you might discover that in-person connections are a lot better than the ones you’re making on your cell.

You may also be interested in Managing Your Online Relationship: Social Media Pros And Cons

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