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What Is P-Phubbing And Why Is It Ruining Your Relationship?

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What Is P-Phubbing? How Smartphones Affect Relationships For People With Insecure Attachment Styles
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Love, Family

Ladies and gentlemen, put the smartphone down.

Do we really need research to validate the complete anger and disrespect we all feel when someone we're dating, a friend, or a new acquaintance reaches into their pocket, pulls out their cell phone and responds to someone else’s text, while we're mid-sentence in conversation with them?

This relatively new problem damaging otherwise healthy relationships of all kinds is something known as p-phubbing.

What is p-phubbing?

By definition, phubbing "is a term coined as part of a campaign by Macquarie Dictionary to describe the habit of snubbing someone in favor of a mobile phone. In May 2012, the advertising agency behind the campaign, McCann, had invited a number of lexicographers, authors, and poets to coin a neologism [a relatively recent or isolated term, word, or phrase that may be in the process of entering common use, but that has not yet been fully accepted into mainstream language] to describe the behavior."

P-phubbing more specifically refers to snubbing your romantic partner in favor of your phone.

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If you need the research to believe p-phubbing has negative effects your relationships, it’s all there.

A recent study found that p-phubbing has a negative impact on relationship satisfaction, life satisfaction, and can even contribute to depression.

P-phubbing is especially problematic for people with an anxious attachment style.

According to Diane Poole-Heller, PhD, a specialist in the attachment theory of relationships, "There are four main attachment styles that define the way people react to the world around them. Depending on the quality of your attachment to the earliest caregivers in your life, you may now approach relationships from one of these four orientations."

The four attachment styles are known as secure, ambivalent, avoidant and disorganized.

According to a study conducted by Dr. Phillip Shaver and Dr. Cindy Hazan, anxious attachers make up about 20 percent of the population.

For these people, p-phubbing is more than just rude. It's a sign of rejection, and an indicator that the p-phubber just doesn’t care.

Pull out your cell phone mid-conversation with one of these people and you'll likely be removed from their contact list altogether.

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Anxious attachers are not the only ones for whom p-phubbing is a problem. It can also be a problem for the p-phubber themselves.

This problem may feel like an individual thing, however it marks a bigger trend in Western culture, according to Sherry Turkle, MIT psychologist and researcher who "studies how technology is shaping our modern relationships: with others, with ourselves, with it."

Technology, with its instant communication and the capacity to build intricate global networks, provides us with infinite opportunities to expand our sphere of connections. Lots of followers and virtual friends can bring an individual sense of purpose and notoriety.

Connectivity can build our egos and expand our minds. However, this kind of connectivity can also bring intense feelings of disengagement.

We feel invisible and unheard when the vast majority of our daily connections are superficial in nature.

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The irony is, we struggle to alleviate our loneliness by reaching out through our phones in search of instantaneous and easy connection, which is the source of loneliness.

We do this instead of sharing a deeper intimacy with those around us, through conversation and face-to-face experiences.

Modern technology, in Turkle's words, therefore keeps us “alone together.”

So give your thumbs a rest and give your p-phubbing self a chance to experience deeper intimacy with friends and family.

That is, after all, what we're all really searching for.

RELATED: The 5 Bad Habits Your Partner Finds Most Annoying About You, According To Science

Dr. Jan Hill is an author, researcher and adjunct professor with over 20 years experience working with individuals, couples and families to overcome chronic emotional and behavioral issues that destroy relationships, derail careers, and disable lives.

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