Phubbing: What to Do When Your Date’s Phone Comes Between You

There’s no denying that we live in an age of advanced technology. Most of us can admit that smart phones are a big part of most of our lives. Beyond basic communication, a lot of us use our phone’s internet for work and other aspects of our social lives.

But most of us probably agree that there are some places our phones just shouldn’t be used. For instance, Mass is an obvious time where phones should typically be put away. But what about on a date?

Maybe you’ve felt slighted when family members or friends have their attention on their phones while you try to talk with them (I know I have!). But having this happen to you on a date can take on a whole new level of sting.

Apparently, dating experts have come up with a term for this. They’re calling it “phubbing,” short for “phone snubbing”.

Sitting across from a date who seems more interested in their phone than they are in you will probably never be pleasant. But there are a few different ways you can deal with the situation, to make sure someone else’s phone isn’t ruining your dating life.

Don’t be too hasty

Don’t be too hasty

I feel my judgmental sensibilities flair up immediately when I see someone looking at their phone during Mass. However, I try my best to check those thoughts and remember that I might not know the whole story.

While most of the instances when someone is giving attention to their phone in a social, date setting are rude, it is possible there’s an explanation.

Before you write off your phone-using date as a total jerk, make sure they’re not in the midst of a family crisis and checking their phone for updates. Or that they’re not on the verge of being fired for failing to respond quickly enough to their boss.

Granted, these types of things aren’t usually the reason someone is wrapped up in their phone. Often, if it is a case like this, your date should think to inform you of what’s going on.

Nonetheless, it’s probably a good idea to give the benefit of the doubt initially. We should exercise some Christian charity, as difficult as it might be.

Try a light or humorous approach

Try a light or humorous approach

Assuming that your date isn’t actually dealing with something monumental on their phone, there are a few different ways you can handle the situation.

The first approach is to fight the urge to be offended and try to bring them out of their rudeness. Make a joke about it, maybe like that you wish your phone was that interesting. Or, if you have their phone number, maybe send them a text as you sit across from them. Typing a quick message like, “I’m over here!” Or just, “Hi!” will probably get the message across. 

If they don’t immediately realize what they’re doing and apologize or explain, you might have a pretty rude person on your hands.

Be direct

Be direct

Sometimes, especially if the person isn’t responding to any hints you’re dropping about their absorption in their phone, the only thing to do is to be direct about it.

Tell them that you’d like to talk to them. Mention that you’d appreciate their giving you some attention, or that you were hoping to get to know them and not merely sit across from them.

They need to know that this kind of behavior is rude and not acceptable. Don’t be afraid of offending them, since behaving this way toward you is offensive on their part and they should be aware of this.

In the long run, calling them out on this behavior is actually better for everyone involved. If you decide to end any possibility of future dates with them here and now, they’ll understand why.

Just think, you might be saving the next person who dates this person in the future from having to endure such behavior.

You deserve much better

You deserve much better

The bottom line is that a date is no place for perusing your phone. Instead, both of you on the date should set aside time for getting to know each other. This should be a time for seeing if the possibility of a future relationship exists with them.

You deserve to have someone at least give you the time of day. It’s disrespectful for anyone to ignore you in favor of their phone.

Don’t feel like you’re being too old-fashioned for wishing their phone were out of the picture. This is not what modern dating has to look like.

Is your date incapable of putting their phone down long enough for to get to know each other? Then it’s probably time you moved on to someone who is capable of it.

You deserve better than to be ignored. You deserve someone who is as eager as you are to see whether the two of you might have something special.