How 'Phubbing' Could Be Damaging Your Relationship

"Phubbing" is a term that was coined in 2012 to describe a rather nasty habit: snubbing someone in favor of your mobile phone. Phubbing is actually a combination of the words "phone" and "snubbing."

An example of phubbing is when someone becomes more absorbed with their mobile phone than the person they're with. Get Surrey reported that phubbing is a unique 21st-century problem, and today it's become a very serious problem because it's causing relationships to become disconnected.

Anyone connected to social media is probably guilty of ignoring the person in front of them in favor of their smartphone. You may have been checking Facebook or scrolling through Instagram or Snapchat instead of talking to your partner, family member, children, or friend.

The Mirror reported that the language of love has changed and that phubbing is bad for relationships because it can dramatically diminish satisfaction. Of course, phubbing is not the worst dating crime, but it can leave partners feeling unsatisfied and disconnected.

Julie Hart from the Hart Center says that the three "connection factors" that give people a "sense of satisfaction" in a relationship are accessibility, responsiveness, and engagement. According to Julie, phubbing interferes with each of these factors, so she's not surprised that people are feeling less satisfied in their relationships because they're just not enjoying quality time together.

"And they're not feeling their partner 'gets' them or is there for them because there's always this constant distraction away."

But the good news is that you can change, and if you acknowledge that you or your partner are a phubber, all that's required is that you set some simple boundaries.

Julie's advice is to sit down together and create rules about phone-free time. This is when you put your phone away somewhere where you can't hear it for one full hour every night while you and your partner spend some quality time together. Phone-free environments might include the bedroom, mealtimes, and when in the car together.

"Most people would be amazed at what a dedicated hour a day of phone-free time can do for their relationship over time."

And speaking of relationships, the Insider reported that Jill Whitney, a licensed marriage and family therapist, suggests fights in relationships can be healthy, cathartic, and a natural part of spending time with another human being. In fact, even in a healthy relationship there's no way to avoid fighting altogether. However, keeping calm is paramount to winding down an argument.

Yes, it seems there are proper ways to fight with your significant other. You can de-escalate a fight with your partner by letting them know you understand where they're coming from, and this means using phrases like "I see your point."

Jill says that phrases like "I see your point," "maybe you're right about that part," and similar phrases can stop a fight from going from bad to worse and even end an argument altogether. Of course, when you're in the heat of the moment it's not so easy to do, but when you use a phrase that tells your partner you understand why they're so upset and that you're actually listening to them, it can quickly help end an argument.

When you use a phrase like this, you no longer appear hostile; it simply shows your partner that, no matter what, you're on their side. Basically, it shows that regardless of how heated your conversation or argument may be, you care enough to listen to them. And when you appear empathetic rather than upset, and take some of that hostility away, you can quickly end a fight with fewer hurt feelings.

Of course, it also matters how you use your words; it won't mean anything at all if you say it with a rage-filled tone. Once you realize you want to de-escalate the fight, slow your breathing down and make yourself calm before you do or say anything. If this is too difficult, you should tell your partner honestly that you're too upset to respond. This will avoid you saying something you may later regret.

Phubbing is a combination of the words 'phone' and 'snubbing.'
Phubbing is a combination of the words 'phone' and 'snubbing.' [Image by StockLite/Shutterstock]

Vijayeta Sinh, a psychologist and owner of NYC Family Therapy, says that de-escalating an argument is "easier said than done."

"But letting your partner know that you're too upset to respond or engage with them helps preserve the relationship, prevents you from saying or doing something you may regret, and buys you time to think about how you want to proceed."

Perhaps Dale Carnegie said it better than anyone in his book How to Win Friends and Influence People. He suggests that the magic phrase to stop arguments, create goodwill, and eliminate ill feeling is "I don't blame you one iota for feeling as you do. If I were you I would undoubtedly feel just as you do."

Experts suggest that, if you're having trouble finding the patience to de-escalate a fight using calm body language and empathetic words, you should remember what you love about your partner, even though it's probably far from your mind in that moment. Also, it's always helpful to ask yourself if you want to be right, or happy. You can keep an argument in perspective if you can remind yourself why you love that person and why you're with them.

An example of phubbing is when someone becomes more absorbed with their mobile phone than the person they're with.
An example of phubbing is when someone becomes more absorbed with their mobile phone than the person they're with. [Image by WAYHOME studio/Shutterstock]

Jonathan Bennett, a counselor and author of the site the Popular Man, says that fights can "quickly escalate into bitterness, defensiveness, and negativity."

"To avoid this, find ways to express your appreciation for your partner, even when fighting. You're reminding yourself of his or her good qualities when you need it most and you're letting your partner know that you still value and love him or her."

[Featured Image by Kaspars Grinvalds/Shutterstock]