Stop Hassling Couples On Their Phones!!

It’s open season on couples who use their cell phones in each other’s presence. Admit it – in the gut of your heart, when you see a man and woman in the candlelit corner of some hip, romantic restaurant staring lovingly into their…PHONES…you probably sneer, or scoff, or joke to your table “I’d hate to be them!”

Woah! Hold your gavel, Judge Judy! Let’s break down exactly why you shouldn’t snark on those folks for being on their phones!

First off, you’re assuming a lot (and you know what they say about “assuming” things)! Why do you look at a male-type person and a female-type person and assume they’re on a date? That is some hetero-normative bull right there. Have you considered maybe these two are friends? Siblings? Cousins? Co-workers? Looking at a boy and a girl and assuming they’re romantically involved is an icky, outdated assumption anyway. Like when gross old people tell the parents of baby girls “I hope you have a shotgun for when she turns sixteen!” like, um, ew, not every 16-year-old girl likes skeet-shooting, okay (that’s what they’re talking about, right)?  

Then on top of that, you’re assuming their imaginary-totally-in-your-head-assumed-relationship is bad? Because in the split second you looked at them, you saw them on the phones? Okay, fair is fair: I’m going to look right back at you in the moment you judge them, and based off that single impression, I’m going to judge that you are rude, miserable, stuck-up, superficial, petty, lonely, and pathetic. Sound unfair? Well yeah, so do you, when you judge people for being on their phones. Really.

And what if you’ve assumed correct? That this boy and this girl that you’ve never met are in a relationship, and it is on the rocks? What business is it of yours? Are you going to help? Or are you going to sit there and snicker in superiority, as someone who has NEVER pulled their phone out in the presence of friends, family or significant others?

Hey, what would a healthy relationship look like to you?  Constantly smiling into each others’ eyes, never a lapse in conversation? That is some Disney movie BS right there. In the real world, people look at their phones. That’s why it doesn’t go “For better or worse, in sickness and health, no cell phones at Brunch, not even for a work emergency.” News flash! Controlling your partners’ behavior is not the key to happiness. Have you ever been in a relationship? Because it’s not rainbows and puppies every waking second. If you naively believe that your Prince Charming would never scroll through his Facebook notifications in your presence, then enjoy your ridiculously unattainable idealized notion of romance, Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally. I won’t have what you’re having.  

So please, please please, stop rolling your eyes at that couple on their phones.If you just can’t stand the sight, then how about you use your judgey, overactive imagination to replace the phones in their hands with a pair of weathered, hardcover Jane Austen novels. Is this couple still in trouble, or are they your #RelationshipGoals ? Keep going! Instead of phones, imagine they are together but independently paying attention to the Sunday Times crossword, a baby, pottery wheels, a bonsai tree, whatever. Is it possible a couple can be happy together if they’re not having heart-to-heart staring contests with their better half every second they’re together?  

As my father likes to say: “MYOB – Mind Your Own Business!” Stop hissing at that couple on their phones, and start paying attention to your own date. Or phone. Whichever. No judgement.

28 responses to “Stop Hassling Couples On Their Phones!!”

  1. Lol at this nonsense about smartphones being antisocial. HELLO IT'S A DEVICE FOR COMMUNICATING INSTANTANEOUSLY WITH ANYONE ELSE ON THE PLANET, IT'S AS SOCIAL AS IT GETS. Maybe the reason I'm always checking my phone with you is because you're boring and dull and my teaching buddy currently in South Korea is way more interesting and engaging than you are. 😛

    • Not only that, but cell phones are here to stay. Like, we can't "pretend" and return to a time when they don't exist. "For better or for worse" cell phones have changed our society! I used to torture myself with the idea that if I pull my cell phone out on a date, it's a "bad date" and then feel TERRIBLY guilty when I use it as a crutch to avoid boredom and awkwardness when my date goes to the bathroom. Ridiculous! I've also done the opposite, sat there and looked around, and people give me weird stares. Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

  2. I get self-conscious when me and my boyfriend go out to eat and I realize we're both on our phones for the judgy people you mentioned above. But it really is stupid of me. Like we live together, sometimes going out to dinner is just to eat cause we have nothing at home. We don't have to be talking 24/7! haha. Good post! Now I won't give a fuck about it.

    • Right on! Thanks for the read! I feel guilty pulling out my phone but my boyfriend is really chill about it – sometimes he's the one who suggests "Aren't you gonna Instagram this food?" Every couple is different. And yeah, if you live together, you see each other ALL THE TIME, you don't need to be heart-eyes-emoji engaged in lovey-dovey every second. Thanks for the swell comment!!

  3. Haha, yes! All great points. Plus I've been with my boyfriend for 8 years and lived with him for 7… so in all that time we might have had a few conversations. It's OK to have some time off for basic human requirements like eating food.

    • Thanks for reading! First of al, congrats on the LTR! That makes me wonder about another point – what will happen in 40 years, when Gen X couples have been married for 30 years go out to restaurants and dare pull out their phones? Do you think some snippy snipperson is going to look at the old, married couple and scoff, "Ugh hope they have good lawyers"? It all comes down to judgement. Passing judgement on strangers is the least classy hobby of all.

  4. THANK YOU. I used to get sneers when me and my guy would go to coffee shops with out laptops. It's super gross. People don't have any idea what our story is (like, for instance, having lots of homework but desperately needing to change the scenery from the library so we bring our stuff to a coffee shop to feel like we're being social and have lives outside of school). It's super annoying, for sure. Great post!

    Also, you're definitely right about the skeet-shooting thing. 🙂

    • Thanks for the compliment! Why so much scrutiny from strangers about our love lives?? Like suddenly being part of a couple means ALL your attention has to be on your partner ALL the time? Oh man. Thanks for the compliment and, yeah, skeet-shooting, right???

  5. I can't recall it I've ever looked at a couple and judged them for having their phones out at dinner. People get messages from work, their kids, all kinds of things that might require immediate attention so it's unrealistic to expect everyone to completely ignore their phones. But personally, I hate to be out to eat with someone and them constantly be on their phone. I find it to be rude, especially if we haven't seen each other in a while. Checking it s few times is normal though, everyone does that. 🙂

    • I think people have different "phone boundaries" definitely if it's somebody you haven't seen in a long time, I would hope you'd be more interested in visiting that person than checking your Instagram! But with couples who live together, and as has been pointed out in the comments already, sometimes need to go out to eat just to eat, it shouldn't feel like a guilty indulgence to look at your phone. Especially when they go to the bathroom. That ugly, awful, awkward bathroom wait!

  6. Sometimes when we're eating out and there's something we want to say to each other that we can't otherwise say due to either people around, kids, etc, we text each other and respond that way. OH NO WE ARE BOTH ON OUR PHONE!

    • This is a brilliant idea! An ex of mine and I used to speak in a code (like Pig Latin) around other people so we could comment on the loud baby, whether or not the creepy guy in the corner was making us uncomfortable, trading entrees without hurting the waitress's feelings, etc. I've often wished my current boo knew the code so we could discreetly talk about private matters in public – now I'm going to use the phone trick!! Thanks for the tip!

    • I judge myself too, but only because I know that people will look at me like this: "Oh she's so self-absorbed blah blah!" But my boyfriend encourages me to like, Instagram epic brunch foods, or tweet really funny things I say, so it's like I should announce to the restaurant "Hullo, strangers! I am NOT ignoring my boyfriend! I am tweeting a picture of my eggs because HE told me to! Thank you, and please tip your waitress!"

  7. I do that a lot with my sweetpie. We're also pretty silent when taking lunch together. After 8 years living in Tokyo you get used to certain behaviors, and this is just one of them. We're really happy together, but we are used to be like that and it's okay with us. I hate when people assume things that they should not. Each couple is a world, and they do have their own rules. What strangers should do is mind their own business. "Laissez faire laissez passer" (<– I hope I wrote it correctly LOL )

    • Ohhh, silent during meals??? This is another interesting issue! I love talking during meals but not everyone does. I wonder what people's general feelings are on dinner conversation, yea or nay? Hmmmm! The ol' hamster wheel is spinnin' now! Thanks for your comment!

  8. I LOVE THIS POST! I always feel self-conscious but we LIKE hanging out silently together on our phones. I love your point about replacing the phones with books etc—suddenly people think that's cute? My phone is my buddy, OK haters?

    • Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment! The self-consciousness, I assume, comes from knowing people are looking at you and judging you? I think in general the world could do with a lot less judgement! Haters to the left!

  9. Great post. It's a new generation in which mobile devices are inextricably intertwined. My wife and I have 5 kids and we all at times are sitting around the TV looking at our devices. I agree there is nothing wrong with that. At the same time, we have to remember that humans excel and thrive on human interaction, particularly couples. So we do need to be intentional about holstering devices and communicating and being humanly intimate with our partners. But snap judgments about couples staring into devices is dead wrong and of a different era. My question is does that couple leave the table hand-in-hand?

    • Your last point is interesting – but then it reinforces the idea of public behavior as performance. I've been acutely aware at times about what my public demeanor suggests about the time I'm having – like I may look upset listening to someone tell me a sad story, or the spicy soup is making me tear up (true story). Especially in New York, where there is almost NO privacy outside of your own home, it can feel like you're constantly putting on a performance for the millions of strangers around you. Even if that means scowling on the subway so nobody asks you for money.

  10. Love this so much! Last week at the airport, I rolled my eyes at my boyfriend as a joke when he wouldn't let me carry my own suitcase and then heard a girl near me saying 'OMG that girl just rolled her eyes at her boyfriend when he was only helping her'. I felt upset that it looked to an outsider like I was being ungrateful but she literally caught us for a split second, not enough to make judgement on the situation or our relationship!! I think a lot of people like to play the 'we're the best couple, look at all these terrible couples' game.

    Emma // xx

  11. This is a great post! We should be grateful that in this day and age we have something that can fit into our hands, that has access to every single piece of information ever recorded or every person we know at the touch of a button. That's not something to be so scoffed at! I'm not ashamed to admit I'm lost without my phone!

    Tore | xo

    • Amen! Phones are still such a relatively new part of our culture, I think we're still adjusting to them. I don't think we full know how to react to the extended access phones grant us, or the way they affect our privacy, so we cling to & parrot puritanical attitudes & standards we don't always adhere to ourselves. At least, people who hassle couples on cell phones do. Thanks for reading!

  12. THIS! Especially with being a blogger, if we go out to eat sometimes I just wanna instagram the food first! Or if I'm in bed and in the middle of reading some sexist ass tweets that I'm about to blow up over… he gets it, he's a good 'un. I'm so past caring what other people think or judging couples – let people be happy for heaven's sake!! xo

    Amber Love Blog

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