The Journal of Couple and Relationship Therapy (yes, there is such a thing) recently published a study on the impact of texting on relationships. They studied 300 married/engaged/serious couples aged 18-25 who frequently text their mate. The upshot? Unless you’re conveying neutral info, talk to the hand, then keep it away from the phone.
The study says women tend to be happy overcommunicators, as long as they’re in it alone. The more men text, the more unhappy both parties are with the relationship. In simple terms, more men text, the more likely they are to say something that pisses their partners off. I could have told you that years ago.
I used to call my husband at work to say hi. Our conversations went something like this.
Hi! What’s up?
So you’re busy?
What do you want?
Nothing. Just saying hi.
Hi. Are we done now?
This conversation would be even less engaging in text-ese
Hi. Are we done now?
If I long for human connection, I log into Twitter.
I do recognize that compared to the study subjects, I am one step into my grave. My son texts constantly and tells me that not having grown up with the technology, I can’t appreciate its power. I’ve gotten texts from my son, however. Let’s just say I’m not convinced his generation is so different.
This sux! I’m so screwed!
Just tell me that you’re okay?
If you don’t text me in the next five minutes, I’m coming over there. Do you hear me?
Sorry. Talking to Nick. NVM.
How would this play out if he had a girlfriend?
Did U get my txt?
All of them.
RU There? (Interpretation : So you have nothing to say? I pour my heart out to you, and you don’t even respond? It’s the exact reflection of our relationship. I pursue, and you maintain a safe emotional distance. You never share with me. I feel so alone.)
Sorry; Talking to Nick. (Interpretation : Sorry, I had to tell my Mom not to come over. I can share my emotions. I ran out of donuts this morning. I was bummed. Are we done now?)
I know I exaggerate. I used too many vowels along with case and punctuation. All that aside, I know that texting is just one more channel through which to be misunderstood. Sexting is even more fraught with danger. Sex is a big enough source of anxiety in a relationship. Combining it with complex communication and the ability for widespread dissemination is a recipe for disaster.
My advice to my son is to use face to face communication whenever possible. That way he can get to the apology quicker.
As for me. I still don’t call my husband at work unless it’s something important, which generally involves large sums of money or a hospital visit. We reserve texting for specific purposes. Chatting via text is permitted when one of us is stuck on a plane post-boarding , at a school/sports event, or when we’re in our respective offices at opposite ends of the house and don’t feel like getting up to discuss what to order for dinner. We used to email each other. Texting is much faster. Who says technology can’t bring people together?
Photograph – “Texting” by Ed Brownson © 2010 Creative Commons/Flickr