Whether you’re spending one-on-one time with somebody or you’re with a group, seeing someone detach from a social situation to be on their phone can be frustrating. Dealing with someone who is always on their phone can be difficult, and figuring out how to address their behavior is tricky. Consider talking to your friend or gently pointing out their phone usage. You may wish to be direct or more indirect in your communication. Whatever you choose, remember that you will likely need to address the behavior if you want to continue a relationship with this person.
EditTrying Less Direct Measures
- Use humor. If your friend’s phone use is bothering you and you want to say something, use some humor. Think about what your friend may think is funny and not offensive, as you don’t want to hurt their feelings. Bringing some humor can help you gently let your companion know that you’d rather have their attention.
- Send a text message saying “Hey, I’m right here!” or “Want to hang out?”
- Turn your phone off. Noticeably take out your phone and turn it off so that your friend can see. If at all possible, do this upon first meeting. This sends the message that you’re not going to be tied to your phone during your time together.
- You can also say something while you do this, such as, “Let me turn off my phone real quick, otherwise it will distract me.”
- Apologize for your own interruptions. If your phone goes off or makes a sound, apologize. Don’t look at your phone or respond to the alert. Say, “I’m sorry that disrupted us, I know that’s rude.” This communicates to the other person that you see phone interruptions as disruptive. Hopefully, they will get the hint that you prefer no phone distractions when together.
- You can also say, “It looks like I forgot to turn off my phone, I’m sorry. I’ll do that now so it doesn’t disturb us again.”
EditVoicing Your Frustration
- Be direct. Maybe your friend has a reason why they are checking their phone so often. Put your mind to rest by asking them what’s up. This way, you can let them know that their behavior bothers you while also asking if there’s something they are concerned about.
- Say, “Is there something going on? I’m noticing you’re on your phone a lot. If you need to be somewhere else, you should probably go there. Otherwise, I’d like to spend time with you.”
- You can also say, “I’m concerned, is something wrong? You’re spending a lot of time on your phone and I’m wondering if there’s some kind of emergency. If you need to attend to something urgently, then please do. If not, please put your phone down and join me.”
- Say how you feel. If your friend’s actions are upsetting you, let them know how you feel. Say, “I planned my time to be here and seeing you is important to me. I feel like I’d have more of your attention if I had called or texted. Can we spend the rest of our time together without phones, or should we reschedule?” If they respond, accept their apologies but not their excuses.
- If they say, “I’m waiting on a call from somebody” say, “I wish I would have known and I would have rescheduled our time.”
- Constantly looking at their phone may signal that they are bored or uncomfortable. You might say, “You seem kind of bored. Should we do something else?”
- Ask them to keep the volume down. If you’re working together or studying together, your friend may distract you with their phone usage. If you’re not actively hanging out, ask them to keep it down. Whether they’re playing a game, listening to music, or blabbing loudly, ask your friend to lower the volume. Let them know you like their company, but not the noise.
- Say, “Do you have headphones? That’s really loud.”
- You can also say, “I like that we study together, but I find the noises from your game distracting. Can you turn off the sound?”
- If your friend is talking loudly, say, “Can you keep it down or go outside, please?”
- Offer to leave. If your friend seems wrapped up in a phone conversation and is not paying attention to you, say that you’ll leave so they can wrap up their talk. Get up and leave before they can respond. If you come back and they are still going talking, say that you can reschedule for a different time, then leave.
- Say, “I can tell this phone call is important, so I’ll step out so you can finish up.” If you come back and they’re still on the phone, say, “Obviously you’re in the middle of something, so let’s reschedule for another time.”
EditPlanning Ahead for Social Situations
- Ask everyone to turn off their phones. If you’re hosting a get-together, make an announcement that you’d like everyone to turn off their phones while at your house. Some people collect phones into a basket while others pile their phones on the table and whoever checks their phone first has to clean up. If you’re hosting several people, it’s within your rights to have house rules.
- There may be times where exceptions are okay. For example, if someone is on-call or has children at home, you may need some flexibility.
- Invite other friends. If you constantly feel disregarded by a friend when you hang out, start bringing more friends together when you spend time with the person always on their phone. You may like spending time with the person, yet hate feeling left alone or ignored when they take calls or texts. If you’re hesitant to say anything, just bring one or two other people along with you. This keeps your resentment and boredom down while taking the pressure off of your friend to be fully present.
- When you spend time with this person, say, “I’m going to bring another friend along, too.”
- Call the relationship off. If you’re offended by your friend’s phone habits and they can’t (or won’t) kick them, you may want to reevaluate your friendship. If you continuously feel like you’re playing second-string to their calls and texts, you may want to consider the strength of your relationship. If the person cannot seem to separate phone communications and in-person relationships, you may feel frustrated for as long as the relationship continues. If you’ve had enough, end it.