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Love Magazine

Why Phubbing is a Date Killer, and How to Avoid It

Smartphones have been great for the dating scene, but they can also be a curse. On the plus side, where would we be without dating apps like Tinder, where we can flick through local singles and zero in on people in our area?

woman being phubbed during a date
Maybe you will want to choose your dates wisely.

But there's a darker side to mobile phones and dating, as anyone who has been "phubbed" can testify. It's not nice to be snubbed in favor of a phone screen, but people do it all the time. Let's find out why they do, and how to avoid becoming a serial phubber.

What's the Deal with Phubbing, Anyway?

For starters, if you doubt that phubbing is a "thing", get real. A Baylor University study has found that 46 percent of people have been phubbed during dates in the past year.

By that, they mean that they have felt alienated and devalued by their date preferring to spend quality time with their apps, than face time with their hot hook-up.

The problem is that it's not easy to tell when we're slipping into phubbing territory. For many people, smartphone use has become second nature. We just do it out of habit, and fire up games or apps like sipping a beer, or grabbing a handful of chips.

Before we know it, the date has deteriorated into a stand off between an irritated party, and someone who is fixated on Facebook.

How to Tell When You're Becoming a Serial Phubber

Most of the time, your date won't come out and tell you to put your phone away, whether that's out of politeness or boredom. So you won't necessarily be prompted to put your Samsung away in your pocket, before it's too late.

When you look up from browsing the web, instead of a beautiful girl, you could well just see an empty chair and a check to pay.

If this happens once, well, it happens. But if you find that dates are leaving early or not returning your messages, there's a good chance they were turned off when you turned on your smartphone.

Even if the date started well, people can be really annoyed by a few minutes of fumbling around with your social media apps.

Why Are People Annoyed by Smartphones on Dates?

If you're the kind of person whose reaction to this is along the lines of "it's my phone, and it's my right to browse the web or check my messages", that's fine. But don't be mystified when people bail out on dates for seemingly mysterious reasons.

Phubbing is bad news on dates for so many reasons.

Above all, though, it's simply rude. Sure, your date won't turn up expecting you to hang on their every word like a puppy dog, but they will expect you to pay attention.

couple phubbing each other in their date
Even if you have been together for years, phubbing can be an issue.

What could be more exasperating than telling a joke or story, then finding that a Reddit post or YouTube video had attracted their partner's attention instead? Not much.

PRO TIP: Be Upfront About Your Dating Status from the Start

If you are still active on dating sites looking for a quick flirt, at least do your date the courtesy of telling them that your profile is very much still active.

Honesty is definitely the best policy here.

Don't Sour Relationships from the Start by Phubbing on First Dates

Here's another important thing to realize: there's more than rudeness at work. People like to connect on a human basis with people they are dating, particularly when they have just met.

If you bolt for the comfort of a Retina display instead of making eye contact with real retinas, your date will struggle to relate to you. Smartphone use seems evasive and shifty, and it's always a bad look when you're getting to know someone.

Then there's pure suspicion. Remember, your date doesn't know you well, and they don't know if you have other dates lined up, or you're still hunting on dating apps. For all they know, you could be messaging a fuck buddy for a meeting after your date.

It just doesn't go over well at all.

So, How Do I Avoid the Phubbing Trap?

OK, so you're now thinking about phubbing a bit more, and how it can impact on dates, so what's the answer? Well, the obvious solution is to focus more on your date and less on your phone. But it also helps to prepare for dates with the right mindset.

Don't just go on dates for the sake of it. If your heart isn't in it, you could easily end up on your phone. So choose your dates wisely, as well.

PRO TIP: Create a Barrier Between You and Your Phone

Don't just place it in your pocket or your bag. Put it inside a bag, inside your bag. A small zip sack or even a plastic carrier a bag will work wonders. Even a small barrier makes you think twice about whipping out your iPhone for a quick scroll through your messages.

What About Long-Term Relationships Where Phubbing is a Factor?

Phubbing isn't just a scourge of first dates and budding relationships. It can come between people who have been together for years, ruining their social lives and turning what should be achingly romantic meals into excruciatingly tense occasions.

If this sounds like you, the only answer is to talk about the issue. Try to set aside time when neither partner can use their phone. Establish boundaries about how long you can use your phone in public, and mellow out when your partner scolds you for spending too much time tapping your touchscreen.

The sooner people realize that phubbing has real implications, the easier they find it to change their behavior.

Tips for People Who Are Being Phubbed

And what about the victims of phubbing? What can they do to reclaim their dates and bring them back to the real world? Well, in your situation, you need to decide whether the person is using their phone as an actual snub, our of absent-mindedness, or because they are nervous.

man annoyed from getting phubbed
It is possible that suddenly you just see an empty chair and a check to pay.

Many people resort to their phones out of awkwardness, not malice. Not all phubbers are scoundrels, so give them time to relax - but don't be afraid to move them on if they are more in love with their phone, than their partner.

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Image sources: (1) YakobchukOlena | (2) Drobot Dean | (3) Focus Pocus LTD |