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Which one are you, Phubber or Phubbee?

Phubbing is impolite and offensive when done during face-to-face interactions. It undermines the individuals being phubbed, suggesting that they are not worth taking seriously, that they are boring, and are unable to hold the phubber's attention. Here, we provide some practical solutions to address this significant issue.
a person talking on a cell phone while sitting at a table with a person

Do you ever use your phone to try to thwart your partner during an argument? Have you ever felt left out of a conversation because your partner keeps laughing or giggling at the phone? Have you frequently heard this statement from your love partner? “Every time I try to talk to you, you’re on your phone.” Do you ever talk to your partner while looking at your Insta feed? All of the above are instances of “phubbing,” a cute mashup of the terms “phone” and “snubbing.”

Even the strong and revered bond between a mother and child seems to have been affected by phubbing!

a person sitting on a couch looking at a phone

Mphubbing happens when mothers spend too much time on social media. While being hooked on their phones and oblivious to their children. According to a study, not only can it harm the bond between mother-child, but it also often triggers academic burnout in teenagers.

If you have the fear of missing out (FoMO) you’re more likely to phub!

a person holding a phone

Phubbing is a sign that you’re bored, lonely, and always have your phone on you for fear of missing out (FoMO), on a call, a tweet, or a status update. It suggests that you might be a neurotic who’s anxious, angry, or depressed; who obsessively worries; and who readily succumbs to life’s stresses.

Higher levels of FOMO arise from vulnerable narcissism!

“Vulnerable narcissism” is a term used in psychology to describe individuals who have an underlying sense of insecurity, low self-esteem, and a constant need for validation and attention from others.

Individuals with vulnerable narcissism may be more prone to experiencing higher levels of FOMO due to their need for external validation and fear of being excluded.

Vulnerable narcissists may use social media sites like Facebook to satisfy their want to be admired and to see the comments and likes on their posts. A handful of them might go overboard and get into new behavioral addictions like a problematic smartphone or problematic social media use (PSMU).

FOMO seems to have its roots in Machiavellianism as well!

“Machiavellianism” refers to a psychological trait characterized by manipulative behavior, strategic thinking, and a focus on personal gain. Individuals with high levels of Machiavellianism tend to prioritize their interests and may manipulate others to achieve their goals.

Individuals who exhibit manipulative and strategic behaviors might be more susceptible to experiencing FOMO due to their desire to be involved in desirable experiences and maintain control over social situations.

When machiavellian types choose a goal, they carefully plan how to obtain it, either by deception or exploitation. FoMO may encourage activities in which the potential rewards for a machiavellian outweigh the risk of hurting or upsetting others.

To beat FOMO, cultivate self-compassion!

You should practice your mindfulness techniques first if you wish to improve your capacity for self-compassion. Instead of thinking “This is my fault,” shift your negative thoughts to something more neutral or positive.

This breathing exercise called the “Calming Breath”, through a series of chants and breathing exercises, walks you through the process of changing negative self-judgments and self-criticisms into more peaceful positive self-images.

Opportunities are constantly available to you. Even if you can’t learn new things by osmosis, every day is full of opportunities. But whether or not you benefit from these opportunities depends on the choices you make. Open up your world to new possibilities with “Palm stretch breathing.”

Phubbing is an ambiguous act, here’s why!

Being phubbed by a person who offers a greater reward, such as a high-status employer. Is viewed as less negative than being phubbed by a person who offers a lesser benefit. Talking on the phone when they were out on a formal date went against their date’s expectations. But not as much when they were just hanging out. A buddy may perceive your constant phubs as either a sign that you don’t appreciate the friendship or that you’re a fake friend.

According to studies, you are less likely to phub if you are dedicated, organized, open-minded, able to refuse instant gratification, exercise some self-control, less me-centric, and more we-centric. In other words, the Big Five Personality Traits—openness, conscientiousness, and agreeableness—are what prevented you from becoming an Instagram or internet addict.

Here’s how you can use voice chanting to become open, conscientious, and agreeable and transform your life:

With this “Transforming breath”, move through various stages of growth. The key to transformation is within your reach now!

Here are a few outrageous activities for phubbers!

Reading, watching a movie, going on a stroll, running, hiking, biking, or seeing a play are all restorative practices. Whenever you feel compelled to check social media, idle in a coffee shop, go on a country drive, or visit a museum.

Purposefully practice being open, conscientious, and agreeable at work or a party with your love partner, family, or friends.

When you’re with your date or partner, maintain eye contact, uncross your arms, smile, and ask them for guidance or offer them a compliment.

phubber at a party

If you’ve been asked to a party, for example, decide beforehand how long you’ll stay away from your phone or how many people you’ll chat with. For example, say you just want to spend an hour there and talk to only 5 people, make a game out of matching the energy and passion of each of the 5 people you meet.

Speak to each of those 5 people individually. Think about how the energy of each of the 5 people affects you. See whether each person energizes you or saps it. Do they make you want to hide out in a cellar or do they bring you closer together? Spend time with people who make you feel more alive. If they don’t, keep your conversation brief, if at all.

Stay close to your non-phubbing social butterfly bestie who handles all the introductions during the party so you can relax and take it all in. Find some playful time to relax with pets if you start to feel anxious without your phone and your phubber’s itch slowly starts to become worse. You can achieve it with time and effort, but until then, try to fake it.

Take a time-out!

You need a time out, at least 2 hours a day, and if possible, one whole day a week. A month of cold turkey would typically be the amount of time it takes to reset your dopamine reward pathways, whether it’s heroin or Instagram or FB, or Snapchat. Just like heroin, these apps can release large amounts of dopamine into your brain.

How dopamine gets triggered is a novel thing in itself!

Dopamine is triggered by your brain’s search and explore function. It tells you, ‘Come on! Post this pic on Insta, you’ll get a lot of likes! Don’t wait! Go, go, go, post now!’ So you post the pic and explore who has liked your posts, and you keep scrolling to see whose posts you can like. The more likes you get, the more euphoria you feel, like being on top of the world.

Social media platforms can use AI algorithms to detect your likes and show you more similar posts. This can further fuel your addictive cycle and make it harder to put your phone down. It’s just like dangling a carrot in front of a monkey. You get caught in the vortex, not knowing how to put your phone down for some time.

And speaking of phones, have you ever experienced the ‘phantom vibration syndrome’?

It’s when you think your phone is vibrating when it isn’t. This phenomenon occurs because your nerves have become hypersensitive and hyper-vigilant, even when your phone is not buzzing with social media notifications. Phubbing, or constantly checking your phone during face-to-face interactions, can contribute to this syndrome.

Now that you know the various causes and ways phubbing can affect you, why not give our recommendations a try? Take your brain out of this red alert state and find ways to turn it into green!

FAQ: Phubbing – Are You a Phubber or Phubbee?

What is phubbing, and how does it affect relationships?

Phubbing is a term that refers to the moment when you pay attention to your phone when you are with someone. It can occur during face-to-face interactions and has negative effects on relationships. Phubbing undermines the person being ignored, making them feel unimportant, uninteresting, and disconnected. It can lead to feelings of frustration, resentment, and a lack of emotional connection in relationships.

Key information:

  • Phubbing is the act of ignoring someone in favor of using a phone or electronic device.
  • It negatively affects relationships and can lead to feelings of disconnection.
  • Phubbing can make the person being ignored feel unimportant and uninteresting.

What are some signs that you might be a phubber?

Signs that you might be a phubber include:

  • Use your phone during conversations, especially when they are important or emotional.
  • Feeling the need to constantly check your phone for notifications or updates?
  • Prioritizing phone use over spending quality time with others.
  • Ignoring the presence or needs of others while being engrossed in your phone.
  • Using your phone as a distraction or escape from social situations.

Key information:

  • Using the phone during conversations and prioritizing it over others is a sign of phubbing.
  • Constantly checking the phone and using it as a distraction.
  • Phubbing involves ignoring the presence and needs of others while engrossed in the phone.

What are some effects of phubbing on relationships?

Phubbing can have negative effects on relationships, including:

  • Reduced feelings of connection and intimacy.
  • Increased feelings of loneliness and isolation.
  • Frustration and resentment from the person being phubbed.
  • Lack of meaningful communication and emotional engagement.
  • Deterioration of trust and closeness in the relationship.

Key information:

  • Phubbing can lead to reduced connection and intimacy in relationships.
  • It can cause feelings of loneliness, frustration, and resentment.
  • Lack of meaningful communication and emotional engagement becomes frequent as a result of phubbing.

How can you address and reduce phubbing in your relationships?

To address and reduce phubbing in relationships, consider the following strategies:

  • Establish phone-free times or zones during important moments or activities.
  • Practice active listening and give your full attention when someone is speaking.
  • Set boundaries and communicate your expectations regarding phone use.
  • Find alternative ways to connect and engage with others, such as through shared activities.
  • Be mindful of the impact of phubbing on your relationships and make a conscious effort to prioritize real-life interactions.

Key information:

  • Establish phone-free times or zones to reduce phubbing.
  • Practice active listening and give full attention to others.
  • Set boundaries and communicate expectations about phone use.
  • Find alternative ways to connect and engage with others.
  • Be mindful of the impact of phubbing and prioritize real-life interactions.

How can you break the habit of phubbing?

Breaking the habit of phubbing requires conscious effort and commitment. Here are some tips to help you:

  • Create awareness by monitoring your phone use and recognizing patterns of phubbing.
  • Identify triggers that lead to phubbing and find healthier alternatives to cope with them.
  • Practice mindful phone use by setting specific goals and time limits.
  • Engage in activities that promote face-to-face interactions and limit screen time.
  • Seek support from loved ones or consider professional help if needed.

Key information:

  • Create awareness and identify triggers for phubbing.
  • Practice mindful phone use and set goals and limits.
  • Engage in activities that prioritize face-to-face interactions.
  • Seek support if necessary to break the habit of phubbing.


Phubbing, the act of ignoring others in favor of using a phone or electronic device, can have detrimental effects on relationships. It can lead to feelings of disconnection, frustration, and a lack of emotional engagement. Recognizing the signs of phubbing and taking proactive steps to reduce it is crucial for maintaining healthy and meaningful relationships. By setting boundaries, practicing mindful phone use, and prioritizing real-life interactions, individuals can break the habit of phubbing and foster stronger connections with others.

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