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How Do You Feel About Being Phone Shunned, or Phubbed?

How Do You Feel About Being Phone Shunned, or Phubbed?

How do you feel about being invited for a coffee or to spend an evening in someone’s company, only for them to be almost permanently on their phone?

Or are you ‘that guy’, one of those people who, every time your phone pings, feel compelled to check it?

It’s not uncommon to see couples out for dinner together, totally preoccupied with their devices, shunning their partner’s company in favour of what’s on their screens. And neither seems to mind, often because both are doing it.

Phubbing or phone shunning, is such a commonplace occurrence that we probably hardly notice it, or have become so used to it that we simply shrug our shoulders when it happens.

I’ve seen updates on social media where someone posts, usually with a picture of their meal, that they’re out for dinner with their partner, only for the other person to immediately respond with a comment. They’re sat together, supposedly out for a pleasant evening, not talking to each other, but remembering to keep their social media updated!

Occasionally you hear that someone has become so fed up at the lack of in person, face-to-face interaction that they’ve introduced a rule. When they’re out for an evening together everyone puts their phones in the middle of the table and the first one to check theirs pays the bill. An expensive, yet effective way to command everyone’s attention!

And why not introduce some suggestions about phone etiquette, proposing that phones are set to silent, unless someone has an ongoing, emergency situation to contend with. Most things can comfortably survive a delay of an hour or two in responding.

So, how do you feel being phone snubbed or phubbed?

When someone’s constantly checking their phone, it can begin to feel that your company is a poor substitute for what’s happening elsewhere in their lives. Okay, a quick glance to ensure that an incoming message is not an urgent communication from the babysitter, an elderly relative or an important business negotiation is not unreasonable, but once reassured surely it’s fair to expect the conversation to resume.

But, when any of us are checking our phones it’s all too easy to get drawn into a sequence of posts, scrolling through a miscellany of hypnotic screen shots. How often have you intended to be quickly checking your latest messages and updates, only to realise so much time has passed. It’s compelling, absorbing and time-wasting!

When we all lead such busy lives spending quality time together is important. Many people’s days start and end in a rush of children, packed lunches, traffic jams, and back-to-back meetings. Fitting in chores and errands is a tight fit. Often, daily communication consists of instructions to collect the dry cleaning, pick up a bottle of milk and drop the children off somewhere after school!

So, making time to give each other our full attention (and that includes our friends too), who may have equally hectic lives, is very important but not always easy. Yet, giving our time and attention is the biggest compliment we can pay someone. We’re communicating that they and our relationship with them is important to us.

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Some families implemented ground rules in a bid to maintain good family communications and connections. No phones present at mealtimes can be a good decision in homes where people sit and eat together, but many homes don’t seem to do that these days. Might it be a good idea to agree to try to connect for a regular date in the diary, say once a week for a family meal, where you sit, chat and eat together, with no phones allowed to interrupt this important family time.

Couples need to appreciate that sitting together, even to watch TV, is an investment in the relationship and needs to be treated with respect. Being sat next to someone who’s preoccupied with their phone, engaged in something you’re effectively excluded from, feels disrespectful, alienating and frustrating. Would that behaviour have occurred in the early days of your relationship? Give each other your genuine full attention and watch your relationship thrive.

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Children need to learn different ways to communicate. It’s important that they witness the good and the bad, understand how to discuss a variety of differing opinions, respect alternative points of view, appreciate how a conversation can influence their mindset, but then be ready to continue the relationship without needing to cancel, block or restrict the other person’s access to them.

Many stress management therapists and health professionals suggest turning your phone off a couple of hours before bed. It helps to calm your mental state, prepare for bed. Remembering that our devices are meant to assist and complement our lives, rather than completely consume and preoccupy us is something we all need to reflect on at times.         

Susan Leigh, Counsellor & Hypnotherapist ifestyletherapy.net

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Susan Leigh
Susan Leighhttp://www.lifestyletherapy.net
Susan Leigh, counsellor, hypnotherapist, relationship counsellor, writer & media contributor offers help with relationship issues, stress management, assertiveness and confidence. Author of 3 books, ‘Dealing with Stress, Managing its Impact’, ‘101 Days of Inspiration #tipoftheday’ and ‘Dealing with Death, Coping with the Pain’, all on Amazon. To order a copy or for more information, help and free articles visit www.lifestyletherapy.net

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