Apparently this has a name – ‘phubbing’! So have you been ‘phubbed’ or have you ‘phubbed’ your partner? Dammit I have. It is almost a daily occurrence in our house. My partner tells me that the hardest part of it is when I make noises like I can hear what he is saying, but actually have NO CLUE when he asks me to repeat it. It feels awful when you are not being heard. Some have even described this feeling as ‘emotional infidelity’.
Sometimes it might feel like it’s an almost impossible task to be one person asking for their partners’ attention versus an entire industry built to keep you on your phone for the longest time possible.
As a human – particularly one who is tired at the end of the day – we can never hope to supply our partner with constant streams of interesting news, new recipes, fun facts around different hobbies or health groups, erotic images of other people, the up-to-the-minute weather forecast or reviews on the latest cinema releases. On top of this, when the phone starts to get tired, they can just be plugged in and, waahay! Off we go again! No partner can live up to that.
The author Anthony T. Hincks said this:
“We have all become addicted to mobile phones. They have become our family, our friend, our confidant and to even some they have become our lovers. But at what cost have they taken over our lives? …When people start to marry their apps, we will suddenly realize that technology has gone too far.”
Addiction to our phones can drive a wedge between couples. Over a period of time, we can lose the ability to be really present with each other, to remember what it was like to lean-in, to truly focus on listening to our loved one and hearing what they are saying. To feel loved we must be heard. All the time the phone is present and the face of it turned upwards, it sends the message to the other person you are with, that you are available for anyone at anytime, regardless of the fact that you are in the room with just one person, and that person might like to talk, or to listen to you talk.
This book: ‘You’re Not Listening: What You’re Missing and Why It Matters’ was published in January and has received rave reviews. Kate Murphy talks about this very problem of phubbing, but also promises to help us to fix it. This chapter on ‘addicted to distraction’ in particular stands out and is worth a read, even if you don’t have time for the whole book.
Of course there are many positives to phone use – you may have met your partner through an App on your phone; if you’re in a long-distance relationship then the phone will be your way to really connect; there may be apps you enjoy posting to or browsing on together. ‘Everything in moderation’ is a great philosophy to have, but the sad reality is that most of us do not use our phones ‘in moderation’.
So what can we do in the face of this?
ON YOUR OWN:
WITH YOUR PARTNER: