Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Question of the Day: Have you Been “Phubbed”?


I included this article about “phubbing” in last week’s Friday round-up, but wanted to revisit it today since it’s kind of interesting, and also because I like the word “phubbing.” Phubbing — a combination of “phone” and “snubbing” — is when your partner/date/romantic interest is too distracted by his or her smart phone to pay attention to you. According to one study, 70% of participants “said that phubbing hurt their ability to interact with their romantic partners.” Well, I mean, yeah. It’s not exactly sexy when you’re trying to converse or make googly eyes at someone and he’s got his eyes on his phone, and then his face is all aglow with that weird bluish-florescent light of his Facebook page or whatever. Not sexy. But, I think most of us are probably guilty of phubbing maybe as often, or nearly as often, as we’re on the receiving end of the phubbing.

Apparently, the phenomenon is so wide-spread that there are various “movements” in place to stop phubbing. In Australia, there’s a campaign and website that “lets people download posters to discourage phubbing at events. There is also the anti-phubbing dinner ritual. It involves everyone at the table placing their phones on the table, face down. The first person to check their phone pays for everyone else’s meal.” Hmm… that seems… expensive? What if you’re just checking the time? Or to see if the babysitter has texted a cute picture of the kids in their PJs?!

Is phubbing a big enough deal in your life that you have, or would consider having, such rituals? Has it ever negatively affected a relationship — or friendship — enough that you had to address it? And if so, how? Are there any people in long-term relationships who don’t lie in bed looking at their phones next to their partners who are looking at their phones?

23 comments… add one
  • RedRoverRedRover December 6, 2016, 1:21 pm

    My husband’s pretty good about this, as am I. What bothers me more is, when he’s watching our son, he’ll be on his phone all the time. Like, I get that it’s exhausting to be “present” 100% of the time you’re watching kids, but can you make it 50% at least? I just feel like our son (and eventually daughter) will grow up seeing daddy mostly with his head down looking at his phone. I also don’t want them to pick up the habit. I already think our son gets too much screentime… but my husband has no problem just flipping on the TV or giving him his iPad for hours. While he stares at his phone. And then of course I feel like when I’m with my son, it’s on me to have actual face time – I can’t take the easy way out myself because I want to limit the daily screentime. Very annoying. I’ve mentioned it to him, but I think we’re going to need to have a serious talk about it.

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  • Portia December 6, 2016, 1:29 pm

    Me and Bassanio both guilty of “phubbing” (not sure if I’m sold on that term…). We don’t have rituals like phones down at the dinner table, but when we want uninterrupted face time, we’ll take both our phones and pile them up. That way neither of us will check our phones. It works for us.

    We might be millennials, but we’re very cognizant of the effects of technology on our time and attention in general. We’ve also instituted a “no computer games” rule, otherwise both of us would spend far too much time in a virtual world.

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  • ktfran December 6, 2016, 1:49 pm

    I didn’t read the article you posted, but phubbing… it has a name! And I have strong opinions about it certain circumstances.

    WHEN IT’S OK: If I’m enjoying a casual evening out with friends or my fiance and we’re hanging out, I’m totally ok with people checking their phones. Don’t be on it 100% of the time, but checking social media or a few texts to someone, fine.


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    • ktfran December 6, 2016, 1:52 pm

      Continued…. WHEN IT’S NOT OK: Enjoying a nice dinner out with friends. Or even dinner at home with the fiance. I have a strict no phone rule. Put it away!

      I have this friend who often visits from out of town. A group of six or so usually go out to dinner to a pretty nice, high end restaurant. I always have to asks them to put their phones away. What’s the point of enjoying a lovely dinner with friends if you’re always checking your phone? It’s effing annoying. They of course, are on the phone again when I leave for the restroom. Whatever. I just think it’s rude.

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  • SpaceySteph December 6, 2016, 3:12 pm

    Laughing at Wendy’s last line “Are there any people in long-term relationships who don’t lie in bed looking at their phones next to their partners who are looking at their phones?”
    What kids these days call phubbing I call “every night of the week.” I imagine it’s different when you’re first dating, but once you get to living together I think sitting next to each other on your respective phones is fairly common.

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    • ktfran December 6, 2016, 3:25 pm

      The fiance and I “phub” while watching tv together. We haven’t done it in bed yet. Well, not before bed. We occasionally do so when we have a lazy Saturday morning in bed.

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      • snoopy128 December 6, 2016, 4:07 pm

        Oh, we do it in bed often at night. We won’t usually do it while we watch TV together.

    • honeybeenicki December 6, 2016, 3:51 pm

      We don’t have our phones in the bedroom, so at least I’m not guilty of that one 🙂

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      • greenapples December 7, 2016, 3:30 pm

        There’s no ‘no phone in bed rule’ because there never needed to be. Phones don’t belong in bed…at least in ours. If you can’t do your texting and social media using during standing up/walking around hours, you’ve got issues – if not in your relationship, then in your time management/prioritization.

      • snoopy128 December 7, 2016, 5:22 pm

        What’s the difference between catching up quickly on your emails/social media on your couch vs from your bed at the end of your day? Usually I do it while my partner is running around organizing himself for the next day and if I do it physically in bed, he takes the hint it’s time to sleep and hustles his own butt into bed. Me being in bed is the signal for him to wind down and come to bed. Me in bed +no phone/book = me asleep. I fall asleep the second I’m not distracted and in bed.

      • MaggieB December 7, 2016, 5:54 pm

        Greenapples, we use our phones in bed and we don’t “have issues” thank you very much, because we’re on the same page and perfectly content with the arrangement. I’d argue that we would, however, “have issues” if we let a random person’s individual and subjective opinion on phone usage worry us.

      • Dear Wendy December 7, 2016, 6:23 pm

        Plenty of people read books in bed before they go to sleep. I certainly wouldn’t consider a couple who reads books next to each other in bed to “have issues.” And I don’t see much difference between reading a book or a newspaper or a magazine or a phone or a tablet or an iPad.

      • greenapples December 8, 2016, 9:40 am

        Ahh…we just keep descending. And we wonder why so many ‘issues’ suddenly surfaced within our country and our culture around election time this year. Gee, everything just seems to have been going along so fine, wonder what happened?

        Pretty sad when you have to figure out processes of what to do with your phones, pads etc. so you can still retain quality time with your family {pile them on top of each other as a signal that it’s time to ‘pay attention’ to each other}. Doubly sad when it becomes the typical routine that you no longer even question.

        God, I’m so glad I’ve moved out of the age bracket where I have to worry about crap like this. So freakin glad I’m what you’d now consider ‘old-fashioned’ (41, so whatthefuckever). Byeeeee 😉

      • RedRoverRedRover December 8, 2016, 10:25 am

        Sooo, you’re leaving this time?

      • SpaceySteph December 8, 2016, 11:12 am

        Yup I’m with Wendy on this. If you were going to be reading a book or magazine, it’s not really any different to be reading a phone or tablet. Especially now that many newspapers and magazines have electronic-only subscriptions.
        Either way, during quiet reading time you weren’t going to be having a conversation. Some people just hate technology on general principle without critically evaluating the differences.

        The gripe is that people don’t interact now, they stare at their phones. But the Walkman has been around since the 80s and the subway fold for a newspaper is much much older than that. There’s a guy on my block I see when walking the dog every night that is always drinking a beer and reading the newspaper in his garage. Sometimes we walk the dog before dinner and sometimes after but he’s always there, leading me to the conclusion that he spends hours every night out there. He avoids his wife cell phone or not.

  • honeybeenicki December 6, 2016, 3:50 pm

    My husband and I are both guilty of this, though it is him more than it is me. I call him out on it though, so there’s that. I do get pissed when he’s “phubbing” the kid. Like, seriously. Your 1 year old is trying to get your attention because he wants to play or show you his empty bowl or whatever. Put your stupid ass facebook machine down and talk to him, interact with him, be his parent! Its a huge pet peeve of mine. I try to not be on my phone when the kid is awake and wanting to play. Because I only get so much time with him so I want to make it worthwhile.

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  • snoopy128 December 6, 2016, 4:25 pm

    I find we do it more often when we are really busy and don’t get much down time to ourselves. Scrolling mindless on our phones is a way to decompress so we can wind down and be present with each other afterwards.

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  • Anonymousse December 6, 2016, 5:15 pm

    My husband has to have his phone with him 24/7 for work, so I think he’s much less apt to actually get on it for other things when he is at home.

    We have two toddlers. If this week has been any indication, we cannot look away from them for more than 2 seconds without risking the complete destruction of our home.

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  • Ange December 6, 2016, 5:20 pm

    We both scroll away in the mornings in bed and I read most of the day when I’m not at work but I also recognise important occasions to not do so, like coffee dates or conversations blooming. I’m a voracious reader and as i say to my husband if it wasn’t my phone it would be a book anyway.

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  • cyndi December 6, 2016, 6:06 pm

    omg – I am phubbed constantly by my 14 year old and my hubby. Going out to eat is hysterical because I am the only NOT on the phone- so I grab the phones and hold them hostage until dinner is finished. I wake -up sometimes and guess what- he is phubbing. Love the word! Get off the phone world!

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  • SailBobo December 6, 2016, 10:56 pm

    Getting phubbed is bad, but it isn’t as bad as getting “Phock Blocked” … You know, when you would initiate sex but your partner is scrolling facebook during that narrow window …

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  • Nookie December 7, 2016, 5:42 am

    I took Facebook off my phone about three years ago and I’m so glad. I found I was looking at it in the mornings, mindlessly scrolling… My partner and I have no social media on our phones and thankfully use them mostly to look things up if we’re together, answering messages I’m guessing is a totally different thing.
    But I wonder if people who ‘phub’ would find another way not to connect. I have one friend who looks around constantly when I go out with him, looking for other people he knows. It’s very irritating.

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  • Unwanted_Truth December 8, 2016, 11:48 am

    I see we have a new troll around here @greenapples.

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