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Phubbing – Bad For Relationships and You

Phubbing – Bad For Relationships and You, phubber, phubbed, meaning of phubbing, phone snubbing, phubbing social interactions, FOMO, how to stop phubbing, anxiety, Adrian Mills

In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to like to reveal the impact of phubbing on individuals and relationships, and how to stop phubbing, and how to influence your friend to stop phubbing.

First a quick update:  

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Now, let’s talk about the impact of phubbing on individuals and relationships, and how to stop phubbing, and how to influence your friend to stop phubbing.

Imagine you are with a friend, or worse, with your partner, and right in the middle of the conversation, your friend starts to check her phone, responds to a beep and replies to a text, or begins to post something on social media.

You have just been phubbed!

Your friend snubbed you in favor of her phone.

It’s surely not the first time that phubbing has happened to you – or perhaps you are also doing it to others!

How do you feel?

The act of phubbing (a term coined by Australian Adam Mills in 2012) is much more than an act of snubbing someone else; it is an act of rejection. You are demonstrating to this person by phubbing him/her in person that he/she is insignificant, not a priority, not meaningful, and definitely not worthy of your fully undivided attention.

Phubbing is an act of social exclusion.

Think of a time in your life when you felt left out, excluded or invisible; perhaps you weren’t invited to a party or event; perhaps you were forgotten or simply ignored.

Social exclusion negatively impacts fundamental human needs such as belonging (love and connection), self-esteem, meaningful existence, and control. In extreme cases, social exclusion usually leads to aggression, anxiety, depression, and loneliness.

When you phub someone, you are:
1. Isolating or rejecting them while they are in your physical presence
2. Lowering their sense of value and significance
3. Removing their sense of meaning to you
4. Making them invisible
5. Expressing disinterest in them
6. Robbing them of a feeling of control of the situation (they cannot understand why you chose the phone over them, and they cannot influence the outcome – your choice.)

Phubbing undermines the relationship communication and relationship satisfaction. The person being phubbed feels helpless or hopeless and might begin to distance themselves from you.

Phubbing creates a rift in the relationship the more often it occurs, building frustration, resentment, and aggression.

Susan was visiting her friend Brian. Susan asked Brian to walk on the beach with her. She had her headphones on and began to listen to a podcast (not related to work or any deadlines.) She was phubbing Brian.

“Hold on,” Brian said. “Why are you asking me to walk with you? You are listening to a podcast. You don’t need me to walk with you. You are ignoring me. I might as well be invisible.”

Phubbing is rarely a deliberate act. For some people, phubbing it is a habit or an impulse; for others, such as Susan, it is actually a way to deal with social anxiety or with general anxiety by distracting herself and disconnecting from the person with her. Susan admitted that she had anxiety related to her body image that day, and Brian was unaware of it in that first moment.

Phubbing can also be the result of deep insecurities that have been formed into habits of seeking other people’s approval, unable to set one’s own boundaries, and constantly seeking external validation.

How To Stop Phubbing
1. The simplest way for you to stop phubbing is to leave the phone behind or place it on silent.
2. Remind yourself what it feels like when someone ignores, rejects you or turns their gaze away from you; that’s phubbing
3. Remember, that unless you can control the phone, it is controlling you!
4. Seek validation from yourself first and then focus on connecting with the person right in front of you. Look at each other!
5. The more you phub, the more your friend will probably turn to his phone, as well as become aggressive or resentful towards you.
6. The more you phub, the more you will increase your levels of anxiety because you are feeding the fear of missing out – FOMO.
7. Even if you believe that phubbing is normative, understand that it still erodes your friendships and connections.
8. Phubbing is a habit you developed; you can change it
9. If you are phubbing to avoid discomfort or interaction with your partner, then seek counseling to deal with fear and insecurity or relationship problems
10. In one study, phubbing one’s romantic partner was found to “indirectly impact depression through relationship satisfaction and ultimately life satisfaction.”

How to Stop Others From Phubbing You

In today’s ‘frightened’ society, people rarely tell you to your face what they think and feel; they often simply avoid or ghost you. Why? They are afraid of any form of confrontation.

Instead, be candid; speak your truth with compassion. Call your friend out. If they phub you on a regular basis, then agree that if you both will meet, he/she must place the phone on silent. It is up to you to decide what you will or won’t accept in relationships. You teach others how to treat you.

You could say, “John, when I am with you and you turn to your phone, I feel rejected, ignored and invisible. I lose significance with you, and I feel like you have lost interest and don’t care. Can we agree to give each other complete respect and attention when we are together?”

In business meetings, when someone unnecessarily turns to their computer screen, tablet or phone – another act of phubbing, I simply stop talking until they have finished, or, I will say, “I will wait till you are ready.”

Finally, you have the power to develop and deepen bonds and connections by fully giving yourself in someone’s presence or you can damage the relationship and connection by phubbing them.

If you would like help to neutralize anxiety, gain more control over yourself and your life or let go of the past, book a one-on-one session with me.

You can add to the conversation below.

I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”

Patrick Wanis Ph.D.

Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & SRTT Therapist

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