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What The Phub?

By Heather Dugan, Connection Coach, for SouthFloridaReporter.com, Oct. 8, 2015 – The wandering eye can be a relationship killer. At the very least, your drifting gaze will put a damper on dinner.

But what if that interloping distraction isn’t striding by, but is, instead, sitting right next to your dinner napkin? Excuse me…got a text. Vibrating and flashing a steady stream of other options? Sorry. I really need to take this. 

Uh oh. You’re a phubber—and a recent survey on phone snubbing or “phubbing” revealed the behavior to be a significant source of relationship dissatisfaction.

It isn’t you. It isn’t even me. It’s my iPhone. 

Baylor University researchers found that almost half of their respondents considered a partner’s cell phone to be significant competition, vying for attention mid-conversation and even in the bedroom—candlelight replaced by the flickering light of a cell phone, perhaps.  

Guilty? If you own a smart phone, the answer is probably a qualified “yes.” That downward glance is easily justified: This will only take a minute… I’m just monitoring my work emails… I only scroll the headlines when we aren’t talking. 

But consider the opportunity cost. Connection requires consistent focused time. Time and focus, simultaneously. Distracted cell phone users aren’t only surfing the web. They’re surfing the relationship. Pair this with digital amnesia—which can obstruct our ability to encode present moments into our long-term memory—and you’ll be forgetting far more important things than where you parked the car. And making yourself more forgettable—and replaceable—in the process.

In my book, Date Like a Grownup, “swivel-heading” is included as a disrespectful behavior that serious relationship-seekers should note as they filter dating candidates. Whether the distraction is human or digital, swivel-heading suggests you’ve more hope in peripheral vision than whatever—whomever—is in your direct line of sight.

Are you a phubber?

News Flash! You’re sending a message whether or not you actually press a key.

Heather Dugan is a columnist, speaker and author with a focus on human connection. Her latest book, Date Like A Grownup: Anecdotes, Admissions of Guilt & Advice Between Friends, examines the impact of loneliness and social obsolescence on men and women in their second single lives and provides strategies for better living after divorce.