Let me know if this sounds familiar: You’re hanging out with your girlfriend. Or your partner. Or this person you’re seeing. Or your fiancée. Or your ex, who you’ve been hooking up with, kinda, sorta, on the low. And you’re on your phone.
Stop. Stop, now.
If you’re constantly checking your phone in her presence, sending text messages, scrolling through your social feeds when she’s right there next to you, you are are killing your relationship.
For starters, 46% percent of people are reporting that their partners phone-snub them. And that’s causing issues in 22% of relationships. In other words, over a fifth of all relationships are under threat right now because people are too distracted or stubborn to just put their phones down.
Distractions aren’t anything new, and people have been ignoring each other using TVs for decades. Hell, in 1941, Citizen Kane symbolised the breakdown of a marriage by showing the couple ignoring each other by burying their faces in…. newspapers.
It’s much worse with smartphones though, because you can take them everywhere and always come up with a plausible excuse for having it on you. You’re waiting for a text, following sports scores, waiting to see how many likes your latest post on Instagram gets.
It’s easy to fall into. But the message you’re sending when you’re checking your phone isn’t just that you’re not all that interested in your partner; it’s also that they’re completely irrelevant to your own happiness. That’s one of the worst, nastiest messages you can send another person, whether intentional or not – it’s the same reason she probably won’t take it so hot if you’re constantly heading out without her. The point is that you’re getting far more enjoyment out of a six-inch screen made of plastic, glass, and probably some China-based worker’s misery than you are from your significant other.
In case the research above didn’t clue you in, this problem is bad and getting way worse. Back in 2012, somebody did a study and found that college kids in the US spent about seven hours per day on their phones. By 2014, that number was about eight hours for guys and 10 for women. If you’re not careful, that can and will spill into your love life.
There’s another piece of advice in it for you. As we noted above, 46% of people in relationships felt ignored by their partners. So if you limit yourself to an hour or two of time on your phone a day, and actually give the girl you’re with your undivided attention, just like that you’ll have given yourself a leg up in the dating game over huge numbers of guys who are bruising women’s egos everywhere by not peeling their eyes away from their little entertainment devices.
In case you think this is turning into some anti-technology rant, there’s no way I’m against Instagram, Facebook or any of the others. When I take the bus, I’m one of those guys glued to my phone as much as anybody else – because hell, our smartphones and all that they bring into our lives can be entertaining. But there’s a time for it, a place for it, and a way to do it properly.
So here’s a handy starter guide:
Times when it’s not OK to phone-snub your partner:
- You’re eating dinner
- You’re watching the same movie together
- You’ve just had sex
- You’re having sex
- You’re about to have sex
- You’re wanting to have sex in the not-so-distant future
- You’re on a walk
- You’re in any public social setting
- She is paying attention to you in any way
Times when it’s pretty OK to phubb your partner:
- You’re kind of just sitting back on the couch, and she’s reading a book or watching Netflix without you, and your mate Connor just sent you the most hilarious Snapchat
Look, that seems like a pretty restrictive list, but there’s a message here: put the damn phone down. At the end of your evening tonight, you’ll feel a hell of a lot better about yourself if you actually interacted with somebody else in a meaningful way than if you got three stars on level 85 of Angry Birds.
And if that’s not incentive enough, remember this: if you make her feel like the only thing you need for companionship is your smartphone, pretty soon the only thing you might have left is your smartphone for companionship.