The Side-Barring Dating Trend Is Another Reminder To Put Our Phones Down

Dating has always been tricky territory. Pre-dating apps, there was the bar scene, personal ads in local newspapers, and neighbors stepping in to set you up with their niece, nephew, or that quiet but odd cousin of theirs. If we go even further back, as in centuries, relationships were either something you fell into thanks to a dowry or because you happened to be royalty. Do you think Marie Antoinette actually wanted to get hitched to Louis XVI? Had she stayed in Austria, dated, then married who she wanted, she wouldn't have been marched off to the guillotine at the tender age of 37. Dating has never been an easy process and, according to U.S. adults, it's getting worse to deal with, let alone enjoy.

A 2020 Pew Research Center survey found that 67% of daters reported that their dating life wasn't going well, 75% reported that it's somewhat or very difficult to find people to date, and 47% say dating now is far harder than it was 10 years ago. Fingers can be pointed in many directions as to why dating has become so burdensome, and technology is definitely among them. Dating apps create the illusion of things that don't exist and have also allowed, in some way, people to behave as they wouldn't in the real world. Everyone is "brave" enough to insult someone or ghost them altogether when it's not done face-to-face — and technology has enabled that.

Technology has also given us a cringe-inducing dating trend: side-barring. You know, because there weren't enough uncouth ways to treat people we're dating.

What's side-barring?

Side-barring is similar to phubbing, but the difference is where it falls in a relationship timeline. While phubbing can happen throughout your relationship (and even seriously damage it), side-barring is when you're in the early stages of dating someone and they can't keep their eyes or hands off their phone.

Although we'd like to think that everyone knows by now that having your phone out on a first date is a surefire way to lose out on a second date with that person, sometimes one's obsession with their phone outweighs etiquette. Try as they might to put it away, keep their hands off it, or not tap the screen to see if they have a message, they can't do it. It's become almost too much to ask of some people — which definitely says a lot about them. Yes, our phones may connect us to the world, but side-barring a date is straight-up unacceptable.

What to do if you're being side-barred

If you're being side-barred on a date, you don't have to sit there and take it. It's one thing if your date has a specific situation forcing them to glance at their phone from time to time, but if that's the case, they should give you a head's up in advance. If you've been given zero information about a possible incoming emergency and your date is side-barring you, then you have a couple of options.

The first option is ... be honest. Let your date know their constant interacting with their phone or even just having it out makes you feel self-conscious or ignored. Granted, no one wants to gripe on a first date, but certain behaviors deserve a level of complaining — and side-barring falls into that category. 

If the honest route fails, you can always bring on the sassiness with statements and questions that might just bring to your date's attention how rude they're being. For example, "You seem to be really into your phone. Do you want me to give you some alone time?" If that feels too petty (although deserving!), you can say, "I must be boring you, because you seem really distracted by your phone!" You can follow this up with a giggle to soften the blow if that makes you feel more comfortable. No matter what route or tone you take, just know you're within your rights to say something. We go on dates to meet people, not to be neglected while they fiddle with their phone.