Are you a Phubber (Phubbing = partner phone snubbing)?

Are you a Phubber (Phubbing = partner phone snubbing)?

With the rise of smart phones and social media, phubbing is now rife throughout the world.

You don’t need to travel far to see it in action; at your local restaurant, in the car next to yours on the highway, at a friend’s birthday BBQ, or even simply walking down the street. In greater numbers, people are ignoring the partner, friends or family they’re with, in favour of interaction with their mobile phone.

The new term ‘Pphubbing’ or ‘Phubbing’ means when you are with your partner (or a friend), using or responding to your phone as the priority, instead of them.

According to studies in US and UK, on average we check our phones every 4 to 6 mins of our waking hours (over 150 times a day).

For tech companies like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – it pays to have your attention as often as possible. Companies are deliberately creating tech and apps with as much digital addiction as possible, because it is one of the most important components to making their companies thrive.

What happens when you get a message, a request or a like? We’re wired to be seduced by the neurochemical hit (of dopamine) of this constant connection at a safe distance; “who else wants to connect with you, the number of likes you’ve got, another funny story to read, the excitement of something new”. Due to this, it can easily be what you do with your spare time.

So, it’s not much of a jump from that to also continuing to do so when you are with your partner, instead of using this time as an opportunity to connect with him or her, the real person right in front of you, who I am assuming is the most important person (or one of the most important people) in your life.

Depending on the degree you do it, and your ability to stop it, it can become addictive behaviour.


You know you are a phubber if you:

  • Have your phone out and close to you when you are with your partner, at all times
  • You keep your conversations with your partner short because your attention is more focussed on what is on your phone
  • You break your attention from the conversation you are having with your partner to look at or respond to your phone
  • You check your phone when there is a lull in the conversation
  • If you are watching tv together, you look at your phone when there is an ad break
  • You take a call that is not urgent when you are having quality time with your partner


The impact on your relationship:

  • This seriously undermines the quality of your relationship. It sends a strong (implicit) message to your partner that he or she is not as important to you as your phone / these other people. There is never a time that you will put him or her ahead of everything else.
  • The anticipation of being disrupted actually changes what you choose to talk about, and how deeply you will talk about it. It keeps you more on surface level topics. You feel less safe to share more important or emotional things as these kinds of topics need a safe and undisturbed environment to be dealt with adequately.


Our Relationship satisfaction is due to the following 3 connection factors:

  • Accessability – you are both open and listen to each other
  • Responsiveness – you both empathise and try and understand how the other feels – he or she “gets” you
  • Engagement – You both often make time to be fully present with each other (give each other your full attention)

As you can see, constantly checking your phone while you are with your partner interferes with all of these three elements of relationship satisfaction.

A recent Study by Meredith David and James Roberts (Baylor Uni 2016) showed that 70 % of the 145 people they studied said that phubbing interfered with and hurt their relationship, and caused significant conflict between them over the use of phones. This made them less satisfied with their relationship as a whole.


Advice to phubbers:

My suggestion to you if you have noticed that you are in fact a phubber, is to be willing to create a shared rule about a phone free time for an hour a day quality time just for the two of you, plus time in bed.

Also, if you have a family, make dinner time and car time (when you are together) a phone free time.


Advice to phubbees:

If you find yourself with a phubber, I suggest you have a talk with your partner about how it is a real thing that is having a damaging effect on your relationship, that you are not happy about. Hopefully he or she will be willing to set some shared rules about phone free time. If not, you might need to take them for a visit to a relationship Psychologist.

Your relationship will thank you.

How hard financial times can cause relationship problems


I think most of us know that when times are tough, we seem to fight more with our partner, but have you ever wondered why? How financial stress is transferred right into relationship problems?

Well, there are 2 areas of the brain mostly responsible for this, the amygdala and the brain stem. Without going into huge detail, our amygdala registers the fear that comes with financial stresses, and before we know it, it has communicated that to our brain stem which goes into survival mode and has us responding in either fight, flight or freezing.

Whichever one is chosen, whenever we are in this survival mode, we are reactive, and it is this reactivity that makes it very difficult for us to be open and receptive to others, which is necessary to have a good relationship with them.

So, we can’t stay open and attune to others, we don’t pause before responding, we can’t empathise with another, we have trouble getting a deeper insight into what is going on between us, we lose contact with our intuition, and we lose access financial stuggleto our moral awareness.

This then has us going down the low road rather than the higher road in our communications with our partner. Once this negative spiral starts, it usually goes nowhere but down, getting quite ugly at times. There are no happy endings unless it is stopped.


We are all potentially prone to this kind of disintegration. The key is to firstly recognise what is happening, and catch yourself as early as possible.

Taking personal responsibility for yourself is the first thing to do.  As soon as you feel yourself reacting rather than responding, when you can feel emotional upset or emotional charge internally, then put up your hand, interrupt the conversation, and say to your partner “I am being reactive”.

Arrange with your partner for this to signal   “We need to stop for 15 minutes, spend time on our own settling down and reflecting on what just happened and why, then come back and return to the conversation from a more aware and neutral place”.

If you can both agree to do this each time either of you is feeling reactive, you can save a huge amount of wasted energy and upset in arguments, and really get to having a healthy conversation, even if , to start with, it is punctuated with a few breaks.

For further help with your communication and relationship problems, I urge you to seek relationship counselling as early as possible, as there is always a solution to a problematic situation.



The 5 love languages: how to show your love

Have you ever felt unloved by your partner, because they’re not showing you they love you in the way that is most meaningful for you?

If you’re like many people, often you may not realise that the way you most prefer to be ‘shown’ you’re loved, can be quite different to how your partner shows their love. It all comes down to your ‘love language’.

If you have ever felt your partner doesn’t love you, then it may be because he or she doesn’t have the same love languages as you do.

According to Gary Chapman, there are basically 5 love languages or ways that people express their love.

For most couples, these are different from each other.

When we are in a love relationship, we tend to speak our own primary love language, and we become confused when our spouse does not understand what we are communicating, or doesn’t feel our love.

When we can identify and also learn to speak our partners love language, we have the key to a truly loving relationship.

Often people can determine their own unique love language by reviewing the 5 below and recognising the one or two that are usually most important or meaningful for them. Have a look below and see what stands out for you, and have your partner do the same.

Here are the 5 Love Languages:

couplesc counselling for love languages

1.  Words of affirmation

Actions don’t always speak louder than words. If this is your love language, unsolicited compliments mean the world to you. According to Dr. Chapman, this language uses words to affirm other people (how meaningful they are to us, how much we love them, how much we appreciate them, etc). For those who prefer the words of affirmation language, hearing “I love you” and other compliments are what they value the most. Words hold real value within this language. Furthermore, negative or insulting comments cut deep — and won’t be easily forgiven.

2.  Quality time

This language is all about giving the other person your undivided attention.  It also includes empathic conversations, sharing thoughts, feelings and desires in an open uninterrupted environment. Distractions, postponed dates, or the failure to listen can be especially hurtful to these individuals. Being there for them is crucial. Quality Time also means sharing quality conversation and quality activities.

3.  Receiving gifts

Giving gifts are a symbol of thinking about your partner, and often are visual gifts of love. Don’t mistake this love language for materialism; the receiver of gifts thrives on the love, thoughtfulness, and effort behind the gift. A missed birthday, anniversary, or a hasty, thoughtless gift would be disastrous – so would the absence of everyday gestures. Gifts are visual representations of love and are treasured greatly.

4.  Acts of service

Can cleaning up the kitchen really be an expression of love? Absolutely! Anything you do to ease the burden of responsibilities weighing on an “Acts of Service” person will speak volumes. These could include cooking a meal, washing dishes, changing the babies nappies, vacuuming the floor, cleaning the car. People who thrive on this language do not deal well with broken promises — or perceived laziness — and have very little tolerance for people who make more work for them.

5.  Physical Touch

This language isn’t all about the bedroom. Physical touch is a powerful vehicle to expressing your love. These include, holding hands, kissing, hugging, cuddling, touching and making love. Physical presence and accessibility are crucial, while neglect or abuse can be unforgivable and destructive.

How to determine your primary love languages love counselling

There are 3 methods of discovering what your primary Love Language is.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  1.  What does my partner do or fail to do that hurts me deeply? If your primary love language is used negatively by your spouse, it will hurt you more deeply than it will someone else, because not only is he neglecting to speak your primary love language, but he is actually using that language as a knife to your heart.
  2. In what way do you regularly express your love for your partner? This is usually what you are wishing your partner would do for you.
  3. What have you most often asked for from your partner? The thing you have most often asked for is likely to be the one that will make you feel most loved.
Once you know your partner’s love languagesrelationship counsleling for 5 love languages

Once you have identified the primary love language for each of you, it is important to give to your partner using their primary love language first and foremost.

Then both of you will feel whole-heartedly loved.

If you need help in discovering your love languages and/or communicating with your partner and ensuring that you both feel loved by each other, phone us for help. We have 70 Relationship Psychologists Australia wide who can assist you create a healthy and happy relationship again.

Both Relationship and Individual Counselling is available  Australia wide, either In-house, by Phone or Skype Sessions – 50 mins

Cost: $175 – $195

Phone 1300 830 552 to enquire or make an appointment.
Private Health Insurance Rebates apply and Medicare Rebates may apply (please check for details)

Communicate well by telling the whole story

When you are feeling particularly upset or you feel a strong emotional charge toward something, either in your current life, or something that has been triggered from the past, there are usually a number of emotional levels to what you are feeling.

Unfortunately, most of us don’t know these exist, and move straight away into defensive behaviours like criticisms, blaming, arrogance, being dismissive, withdrawing, withholding, being stubborn or being precious, all of which cause relationship troubles.

So, it is of the utmost importance to be aware of, and communicate to your partner what is the whole truth of what you are feeling.

How do you communicate the whole truth?relationship counselling for communication

To start with, it is often helpful to spend some time on your own writing your feelings down first, and then you can read what you have written to your partner.

As you get better at it, you may just be able to share with your partner, without having to write first.

counselling for communication in a relationship

These are the 6 levels to check in on:

Level 1.      Anger and blame (I’m angry, annoyed that…)

Level 2.     Hurt and sadness (I feel hurt that….)

Level 3.     Fear and insecurity (I’m afraid that……)

Level 4.     Responsibility (I realize I have contributed to this by………I’m sorry that I…….)

Level 5.    Appreciation. (I appreciate that you have……)

Level 6.   Ask for what you would like  ( I would love it if…. ) (understanding that this is an ask, not a demand)

In summary

Telling the whole story is quite a simple process, but can take some practice.

One person starts by taking the time to write and then reads to his/her partner, or alternately,  tells how they are feeling, starting with level 1 and working their way down to level 5.

Their partner listens and gives a summary back at each level.

Then the partner tells how they feel, using any or all of the levels of feelings as well.

counselling for communication problems


This is a very powerful process that can open up a whole new way of understanding ourselves and being intimate with our partner, and provides for the very best of respectful resolutions.

If you need help to initiate this communication process with your partner, we can assist you. We have 70 Psychologists, in Sydney and all other capital and large regional cities,  Australia wide who specialise in relationship counselling and are trained to help you get your relationship back into happy territory again.

Both Relationship and Individual Counselling is available, either In-house, by Phone or Skype Sessions – 50 mins

Cost: $155  ($175 for after hours sessions.

Phone 1300 830 552 to enquire or make an appointment.
Private Health Insurance Rebates apply and Medicare Rebates may apply (please check for details)