Blog Post

“Phubbing”: The Silent Relationship Breakup

Have you heard of ‘phubbing’? I recently asked this question to a few family members and the puzzling look on their faces indicated that they have never heard of this term. We will focus on the blog defining, identifying when it happens, the impacts it has on relationships, and how to minimize it in your relationship.

What is Phubbing?

We are in the era of smartphones and additive behaviors of constant connectivity which has silently affected our personal relationships. The term ‘Phubbing’ comes from “phone” and “snubbing” which is the act of ignoring others in a social gathering by fixating on your phone instead.

The Uprise on Phubbing

The rise of smartphones is increasing substantially and revolutionizing the way we work, communicate, and entertain ourselves. Unfortunately, the constant presence of these devices has also played a significant role in phubbing. Challenge yourself and watch what typically happens when you are sitting at a doctor’s office waiting for your name to be called. Are other patients dialoguing with each other or are most individuals engaged with their phones. I make it a point to keep my phone in my purse and attempt to start a dialogue with someone sitting next to me. It’s interesting to me that I find them more interested in returning to their phone activity than to engage in a healthy conversation. This is also true when we are out to dinner. My husband and I will notice that most couples are focused on their phones than conversing with each other. It seems that its excused as a harmless habit, however many couples main complaint about each other is their phone usage. Spending time on your smartphone is being normalized and everyone is doing it so it must be okay.

Impact of Relationships

Phubbing can create a sense of disconnection and foster feelings of neglect. Prioritizing your phones over face-to-face interactions sends a message that the virtual world is more important than the real world. This can lead to decreased relationship satisfaction and increased feelings of loneliness. To sum it clearly, it is a breakdown in communication.

Breakdown in Communication

The consequence of phubbing is the breakdown in communication. Take a moment and recall the last time you engaged in a healthy conversation with another individual. Think about the conversation…. Was there engagement with the phone? I can only speak about my own experiences and would like to share that the healthiest conversations I have had with others took place when smartphones were not easily accessible. Phubbing can lead to miscommunication, feeling unheard, misunderstood, not cared about, and not important. Overall, there is a decline in the quality of connections.

Domino Effect

Phubbing can have a domino effect on social dynamics. When one individual engages in phubbing, it sets a precedent for others to follow suit. Remember my previous example about sitting in the doctor’s office and noticing others phubbing. I noticed myself grabbing my phone to virtually connect since I saw everyone else engaged with their smartphones. Despite my efforts of trying to engage with another individual, I would give up and engage in similar behaviors. As a result, social circles can be engulfed in screen time, hindering genuine connections and shared experiences.

Phubbing Boundaries

What are ways we can combat phubbing its negative impact on relationships? Let’s raise awareness and take proactive steps towards change. · Set Boundaries – No phone use during social interactions · Specific Times – designate times for device-free activities · Open Communication – Converse with others about the impact of phubbing on relationships
Phubbing has become a rising epidemic negatively impacting relationships and resulting in feelings of not feeling important, valued, less than, ignored, and lonely. Establishing a level of awareness across your circle of friends and family members may decrease the frequency of phubbing.

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