Dear Wayne and Wanda,
This might not sound like a big deal but it's causing real problems in my relationship. My girlfriend will simply not put her phone down and it's making me crazy. When we first started hanging out, I never even saw her phone. I found this to be a huge positive. I'm barely on Facebook and don't have any other social media accounts and it makes me crazy how people feel like they have to post photos of everything they eat and "check in" all the time, and share all these personal details of their lives. So at first I thought we were on the same page.
Not so much. She is very active on Facebook, she has Instagram, she also Snapchats (I don't even know what that means). So that's one issue: I feel like she's oversharing. The other morning, I left her a note telling her I was looking forward to our date night – and she put a picture of it online!! I couldn't believe it. But when I called her on it, she was genuinely perplexed and upset. She didn't see why it was a big deal she shared it and said she wants everyone to know how happy she is and how special I am. Ugh.
But the other huge deal here is lately it's like she just never puts the phone down. It's next to her when we're at a bar, a restaurant. She checks it until lights out. It's in her hand when we're watching movies or TV. I've about had it. I feel like I'm not even there half the time, like I'm second to whatever conversations she's having on there. I want to be clear – I don't think she's cheating, or even having inappropriate conversations. It isn't about that. It's just about her not paying attention to me, or the relationship. She says I just don't get it because I'm so analogue and haven't "taken to social media." I think she's being inconsiderate. Help?
I hate to tell you pal, but you're being chronically phubbed. What's that? "Phubbing" is a cute word that combines "phone" and "snubbing" to describe the toxic phenomena of people these days blocking out the here-and-now to soak up the virtual, and it's all around us. Next time you're at a restaurant or bar, give it a look: there will be parents engrossed in iPhone screens ignoring children who are glued to tablets, and couples unspeakingly consuming food as they flip through their separate social accounts and entire group of friends ignoring each other as they sort Tinder options and text other friends.
Phubbing, according to this article on MSN.com, may negatively impact something like 70 percent of relationships today. Generally, people who were surveyed reported feeling overlooked, depressed and second-place to their partner's habits.
If your girlfriend refuses to see that her behavior is hurtful to the relationship, explain to her that it's really taking a toll on you, and share some of the tricks and tips offered in this article. Maybe you can agree on certain periods a day when she simply puts the phone away, like when you both reunite after a long day of work, when you're out for dinner, or in those dusky end-of-day moments as you fall asleep. And while her reasons for live-blogging your relationship seem pure enough, encourage her to be a little less open about some of the more personal interactions for the sake of your happiness.
After all, a real-life partner you can confide in and cuddle up with is way cooler than collecting likes, fawning comments, or watching emojis blow up on an itty bitty screen.
So, I have a wacky word for you, too, Wanda and anti-social media guy! It's "Phonpromise." Heard of it? No? That's because I literally just made it up! I even Googled it and no one has used it before! Yay me! Oh, the definition: When a confused person from the social media Dark Ages (the '90s) works with their tech-obsessed partner to meet halfway in a happy phone place. Hold on – my phone is ringing. Probably Merriam-Webster …
Now, 99 times out 99-and-a-half, I would side with physical connection over social media, eye contact over iPhone contract. But in this case, I recommend you ease up a bit and see the situation for what it is. Your girlfriend is pretty much like everyone else in this modern world in the sense that her phone – and all of its life-enhancing browsers, apps and emoticons – is an extension of her arm and its data is practically her lifeblood. It's a lame perspective on life, but that's just the way it is. The exception in this case is that she loves you and uses social media to sing that love from the mountaintops. And you call her out for it? Want her to log off forever? SMH.
Is she on her phone too often? Yes. Is it an annoyance? Of course. Does she have to give it up for you two to have a solid relationship? I think that there's plenty of room for phonpromise on both sides. I echo Wanda in recommending that you talk with her about appropriate and inappropriate usages that you can both live with. But this shouldn't be an either-or situation. She should be able to post a cute note or photo or memory about your relationship without worrying about you freaking out. And she should be able to catch up on news if you're just sitting around watching TV or having a super-casual Tuesday night meal or riding in the car (as long as you're driving). You know, like everyone else these days. I know, it's complicated, but if you can't handle it, thumbs down emoji to you.
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