The Rise of Phubbing: A New Contributor to Divorce in Singapore

phubbing divorce

In the age of smartphones and social media, a new form of social neglect has emerged: “phubbing,” the act of snubbing someone in favor of a mobile phone. Surprisingly, this seemingly benign behaviour is becoming a significant contributor to marital discord.

Understanding Phubbing

Phubbing represents more than just a momentary lapse in attention; it is a persistent preference for digital interaction over face-to-face communication with one’s spouse.

When one partner consistently chooses their phone over their partner, it can lead to feelings of neglect, jealousy, and rejection.

Over time, these feelings can accumulate, leading to deeper issues within the marriage, such as emotional disconnect and resentment.

Impact on Marital Relationships

For couples in Singapore, where work-life balance often leans heavily towards long working hours, the limited personal time available makes every moment of interpersonal communication precious.

When phubbing enters the relationship dynamic, it can diminish the quality of these rare interactions.

A partner who feels ignored or second to a device may begin to question their worth in the relationship, potentially leading to low self-esteem and depression.

In a society that values connectivity and technological advancements, the irony lies in how these tools, designed to bring people closer, are pushing them apart.

Marriages, particularly those already strained by other stressors such as financial pressures or parenting challenges, can find the added burden of phubbing the tipping point towards considering divorce.

10 Signs of Cell Phone Addiction in Relationships

Identify the Warning Signs of Mobile Dependency

  1. Morning Routine Dominated by Your Phone: Waking up and immediately checking your phone for emails and social media can set a tone of stress for your day.
  2. Phone Use During Meals: Encourage device-free meals to foster real-life connections and conversation with family or partners.
  3. Phone Usage in Bed: Using your phone before sleep disrupts sleep patterns with blue light exposure and reduces intimate and quiet moments with your partner.
  4. Anxiety Over Phone Access: Excessive worry or panic over losing phone access suggests a deep dependency, more than just inconvenience.
  5. Concealing Phone Usage: Frequent, secretive phone use, whether at work or home, can indicate problematic behaviour.
  6. Using the phone as an Emotional Shield: Turning to your phone during uncomfortable or serious conversations can create emotional distance between you and your partner.
  7. Dependence on Phone for Emotional Relief: Relying on your phone for comfort in times of anxiety or depression can hinder genuine emotional support and interaction.
  8. Withdrawal Symptoms: Experiencing restlessness, irritability, or other withdrawal symptoms when away from your phone highlights a substantial dependency.
  9. Overuse at Social Events: Using your phone excessively at social gatherings can lead to missed opportunities for real-life interactions and strain relationships.
  10. Constant Phone Presence: Keeping your phone within reach at all times increases the likelihood of frequent checks. It can intrude on personal and shared time.

Connection to Unreasonable Behavior

Under Singapore’s legal framework, to file for divorce, one must prove the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.

While phubbing itself is not a legally defined ground for divorce, its implications can be significant in how divorce cases are argued and settled, particularly under the umbrella of unreasonable behaviour, especially if it leads to communication breakdown, emotional neglect, or contributes to an environment where one spouse feels consistently disregarded or undervalued.

This behaviour must be severe enough to convince the court that the spouse cannot reasonably be expected to live with the phubber.

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