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This seemingly harmless behaviour is the root of many arguments.

| By Antonia Day | Wellness

Is This Innocuous Habit Wreaking Havoc on Your Relationship?

This seemingly harmless behaviour is the root of many arguments.

There’s something deeply infuriating about talking to someone who’s staring at their phone. Sitting across from someone who is staring at their screen, steam coming out of your ears, waiting for them to look up. Or maybe you’ve been on the other end, happily scrolling into the abyss, only to look up and be met with a displeased face and the words “are you evening listening to me?”

A portmanteau of the words phone and snubbing, ‘phubbing’ is the name for this extremely common and seemingly harmless transgression most of us have experienced. While phubbing seems innocuous on the surface, studies show it can have serious negative effects on our relationships.

So, whether you’re the infuriated one searching for solace after being phubbed, or you’ve found yourself in trouble one too many times after phubbing someone, read ahead to find out more about it, and what you can do to stop it.

What are the negative effects of ‘phubbing’?

“Ironically, phubbing is meant to connect you, presumably, with someone through social media or texting,” says Emma Seppälä, a psychologist at Stanford and Yale universities and author of the Happiness Track. “But it actually can severely disrupt your present-moment, in-person relationships.”

A series of studies have concluded that phubbing makes face-to-face interactions less meaningful. One study found that the act of texting during a conversation made the talk far less satisfying for the people having it, compared to people who conversed without the presence of a phone. Another study conducted in 2012 found that the presence of a mobile phone during a conversation was enough to make people feel less connected and appreciated during the interaction.

How to stop phubbing

1. Create technology rules

Allocating times where phone use is and isn't allowed is an effective way to minimise phubbing. Start by putting phones away at dinner or at a time where you and your partner or family usually connect, and begin to implement these rules into other times of the day.

2. Prioritise attention-based practices

Practising meditation and mindfulness without the presence of a phone will help to retrain your attentional capacity. Try allocating short bursts of these attention-based activities and slowly increase the time to improve your attention span.

3. Communicate how you feel

If you’re the one whos being phubbed, or the one doing the phubbing themselves, one of the most important and constructive things you can do is to communicate with the other person how it makes you feel. More likely than not, discussions about feelings will eventually lead to change – just make sure there’s no phone around when you do it!

4. Seek help

If you feel like your phone use is out of control and phubbing is damaging your relationships or mental health, consider speaking to your GP or a psychologist who can offer support.

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