“Give whatever you are doing and whoever you are with the gift of your attention.” Jim Rohn

Derrick and I are sitting having a long, leisurely lunch at a cute little restaurant in Tuscany. He orders the fish and wood-fired vegetables. I order the cacio e pepe (one of my favorite pasta dishes). I look over at a young couple in the corner of the restaurant and my heart breaks.

They both have all of their attention on their phones. 

They’re not looking at each other. 

They’re not talking to each other. 

They’re not even just simply taking in the gorgeous surroundings of Italy.

Hands to face…Elbows on table…Eyes in phone.

They don’t look like they’re pissed at one another – just indifferent to one another’s presence.

And look at their demeanor. These aren’t two people wrapped-up in getting something important done for work, or quickly responding to an urgent message. 

These are two people who don’t know how to connect and so instead of trying, they avoid connection by mindlessly scrolling through their phones…

They don’t know how to just be with themselves or with one another, so even in one of the most gorgeous places on the planet, their phones provide both the distraction and the relief so they can avoid being present.

But the truth is…we’ve all been there.

None of us are immune to this. At some time in our lives, we’ve probably all looked just like this young couple and not thought anything about it.

“What’s the big deal? Everybody does it.”

In fact, this practice is so common that there’s a new word for it:

Phubbing = Phone + Snubbing

Wikipedia defines phubbing as the habit of snubbing a physically present person in favor of a mobile phone.

Our focused attention has become the most highly prized commodity there is in relationships today. That is because there are so many other things vying for our attention that seem more urgent, important or entertaining. Our presence is now the most scarce resource we have, and when we place it away from the people we love, distance is the only thing growing.

If you find yourself doing this, turn your phone over or put it away. Then take a deep breath and bring yourself back to the present. If your partner is doing this behavior in your presence, don’t fall into the trap of you doing the same thing and reaching for your phone. Instead, gently inquire: “You seem distracted; what’s up?”

Making our long-term, committed relationships feel good isn’t going to just magically happen. If anything, it’s becoming increasingly difficult.

My challenge to you this holiday season is to become more conscious of where you place your focused attention. Wherever it is placed will show you what you are prioritizing in your life. I hope you choose to place it on those that are most important to you.