How Can I Get My Girlfriend Off Her Phone Without Smashing It?

A photograph of the writer.

SCAACHI KOUL was born and raised in Calgary, Alberta. Her writing has appeared in The New Yorker, BuzzFeed NewsThe HairpinThe Globe and Mail and J...

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If we break down Robin Thicke to his base components, what is he?

Not quite a man, not quite a human, but rather, an organism feeding off whatever host it can find, like a parasitic worm filling an entire dietary tract. If you strip away the bouffant hair and the indoor Dolce & Gabbana aviators (WHY?), he is a tiny pinworm, entering you through your most sacred orifice, moving throughout your body, slowly driving you insane from the inside out.

It seems most of the free world has caught onto this, including his former wife, since his new album ostensibly devoted to winning her back, Paula, is selling far, far, far worse than his previous one. Is the album significantly worse than the one that preceded it, or have we just gotten smarter? Whatever the case, one thing is clear: harassing your estranged wife in public is bad for your five-year plan.

No one even once considered placing any blame on blame Paula Patton for splitting up with a man who once recorded a music video that included balloons telling the viewer that he had a large sex organ. And yet, Thicke recorded Paula, an album that paints him as both the pitiful victim of a devastating break-up and the cause for the dissolution. What a skill, to juggle both the knowledge that you set a two-decade relationship on fire but also that you’re, like, super-duper sad about it and can you just come home and be the good wife again? The entire album is the musical equivalent of showing up to your ex-girlfriend’s office and crying at her desk because she still doesn’t want to move back in while everybody peeks over their cubicles, wondering what’s taking security so long, because hoo boy, this is uncomfortable to witness.

It’s the worst possible position he could put her in: not just trying to control the narrative of the breakup, but playing it as if she’s the cold one if she doesn’t forgive him. It must be nice, being Robin Thicke, just expecting success and forgiveness and luscious breasts to come to you. I mean, who could ever say no to Jason Seaver’s son?

So let’s say you’re Paula, with an ex following you around, showing up at your door, asking for one more chance, please, just one more chance. Do you try again?

You do not. Never reward bad behavior, especially when said behavior includes the line, “I know you want it.” You know nothing. Get away from me, you walking bag of teeth.

Or, maybe you’re Robin in this situation, a celebratory rape anthem under your belt and a truly god-awful album as a follow-up. How do you restore 1) your marriage, and 2) your public image?

For one, don’t do this. Or this. Or this. Do none of these things ever again and also do not write albums about women who have chosen to not be with you anymore. A good rule would be to ignore every natural urge you have and do the complete opposite. Then, when you’ve done all of that, do not try to contact your ex-wife via a public campaign that includes an album that, yet again, rips off Marvin Gaye.

Also, stop dressing like you just came home from a dinner party where you drank too much and lost your tie. Button up your top button. And stop looking so moist all the time.

Now: shall we?

Scaachi, here's the deal: My girlfriend broke up with me about a month ago and I'm still madly in love with her. The break-up happened during a time when I was really sick, and it happened unexpectedly. Even though her timing was really shitty and she has no interest in getting back together with me, I'm still head over heels. How do I move on?

— Languishing In Longing

Well, first of all, I hope your health has improved dramatically since this occurred. But you are not here for your physical health; you are here for assistance with your emotional and mental health, assistance that will come in the form of AGGRESSIVE TYPING.

What a crummy girlfriend you had! I have to guess that if she was able to leave you in your time of need—and if you did not, indeed, do something terrible that would mitigate her leaving—there is probably a long list of terrible things she did to you. Did she ruthlessly call you fat when you went to the beach together? Did she hold your hand on the way to the movies all the while texting her ex to see if he wanted to meet up later? Did she stand you up and then call you three days later asking if you can bring her some orange juice because her throat is feeling “weirdsies”?

Your ex-girlfriend is likely a terrible candidate for life-partner, and you should consider yourself lucky that you don’t have to hang around her anymore. Mutter a little thank-you to both her and whatever land- or sea-based god you believe in, for you are no longer subject to her whims.

But you are not here for your physical health; you are here for assistance with your emotional and mental health, assistance that will come in the form of AGGRESSIVE TYPING.

But believing that and living by that are different things. You’re still caught up in her web, and there are two things you need to get on with your life: time and effort. This is an old cliché that people hate hearing when they’re devastated, but the only thing that mends a broken heart is the unrelenting march of time. Think back to your exes of yesteryear: one day you will wake up and wonder what you ever saw in them, usually right before rolling over and throwing an arm over the new person in your bed.

Which leads me to my next point: what are you doing wallowing instead of enjoying your singlehood? Meet some new people! Expand your horizons! Go touch some boobs! Stop looking at it from the perspective of a jilted ex-lover and instead as a free bird soaring the open skies, the wind rustling your feathers as you look for a warm meal.

Use some of your newfound free time to un-mix that metaphor for me, and then go outside.


I cannot get my girlfriend to get off her phone. It’s constant. When we watch movies at home on the couch, she’s playing Candy Crush. Over dinner, she checks it constantly and tells me about whatever the hell is happening on Facebook. She takes her phone to the BATHROOM with her, which is insane and disgusting. I’m not asking for a lot, just that she pay attention to me when we’re out together. I want to have children with this woman but I’m worried she would drop our kid if her phone rang. How can I help her break this habit?

— No Phone Zone

Maybe I am the wrong person to ask about this—I go literally no place without my phone. To me, the worst part about having to go to the dentist is that she does not let me play on my phone while she drills little holes into my head. Whenever my boyfriend suggests we stay in and watch a movie, all I hear is, “Oh, great, I can play that unbelievably moronic Simpsons Sims game for 110 minutes.” He does not like this. I do not care.

But I imagine that this can be frustrating when you two are on a date and she can’t peel herself away from Instagramming her dimly lit salmon. If scolding and complaining at and about her doesn’t work, then try to level with her: explain that this is really fucking annoying (not in those words) because you enjoy spending time with her and you want to connect with her in the little time you get together (those exact words).

To start, set reasonable benchmarks for success. For example: neither of you can have your phones on the table while you have dinner, or for one hour, neither of you can pull out your phones when you’re spending time together. Charge your phones in the living room instead of the bedroom so that you never have to wake up to the dink-dink-dink of her email. Think of attainable, logical goals that will slowly pull her out of her addiction.

And if none of these tactics work, call the bro/broad in the question above and hit the town trolling for some new fish.

(But for the record, taking your phone into the bathroom is not that weird. If I didn’t bring my phone into the bathroom, this column would never get written, so you’re welcome. )


A few years ago, I went on a handful of dates with a guy. It didn’t work out, but we talk now and then and sometimes see each other at parties. There’s no residual awkwardness or lingering feelings, but my friend asked me if she could go out with him. I don’t like him or anything but the idea of my girlfriend sleeping with a guy I slept with makes me feel weird. How do I tell her this makes me feel uncomfortable without her thinking it’s because I’m still into this guy?

— No Double-Dipping

It’s going to be tough to convince your friend that you’re not into this guy if you keep fixating on whom he is humping.

Certainly, there is an unwritten rule that friends don’t go after the exes of friends. It’s tacky and unnecessary: there are plenty of men in the world to rub up against. I don’t necessarily blame you for feeling weird about this. But, maybe you need to examine what it is that’s making you uncomfortable here.

I feel like there is something happening in Brazil but no one will tell me what. Also: where is Brazil?

There are a few possibilities as to why you’re concerned about this pairing. It may be that you’re a) still not over him, b) worried that he’ll compare you and your friend in the sack, or c) uneasy about losing two of your friends to one relationship. If the first is in fact true, then you need to pull your bra-straps up and tell your friend the truth: that this makes you uncomfortable because you still have ovary-feelings for this guy. If it’s the second, you need to focus your energy on more important things, like whatever is going on in Brazil. (I feel like there is something happening in Brazil but no one will tell me what. Also: where is Brazil? If you know, please email me directly.)

But if it’s the third, as I suspect it may be, you are shooting yourself in both feet by trying to keep them apart.

Is this really a big enough issue for you that you want to turn it into a fight with your friend? Is he that important? Because if he is as inconsequential to you as you have repeatedly said, your friend is probably wondering what the BFD is about her wanting to climb this guy like a sexy jungle-gym made of brawn and hair.

There’s always a chance that your friend and this guy won’t hit it off—the way you two didn’t—and this will be a short-lived problem. There’s also a chance that they’ll really hit it off—in a way that was totally impossible for you and him to do—and they will have a good, comfortable, enjoyable relationship. And isn’t that nice for your friend? Don’t you want nice things for you friend?

Of course you do. Because you are not a monster. If you really don’t care about this guy, but you do care about your friend, then let them try this out. Don’t be bitter. Don’t make yourself a victim. Don’t try to turn this into something about you. Don’t be a Robin Thicke.

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A photograph of the writer.

SCAACHI KOUL was born and raised in Calgary, Alberta. Her writing has appeared in The New Yorker, BuzzFeed NewsThe HairpinThe Globe and Mail and Jezebel. She is the author of One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter.