Are you making these critical texting errors?
We love our phones (some of us are even addicted to them), but the innocuous devices rattling around in the bottom of our handbags could be causing serious chaos in our love lives.
A 2015 poll by the Gravitate Research Group reports 80 percent of Americans prefer instant messaging to calling, and recent research suggests this fondness for texting may come at a high personal happiness price.
Scientists have found that texting expectations, communication styles, and even mundane punctuation choices, can cause rifts in an otherwise peaceful union.
So before you send that urgent message to your honey or spouse, review these new relationship texting rules…
1. Not everyone has the same “text compatibility”
Life was pretty simple for couples before texting exploded onto the scene in 1999. Previously, you couldn’t get in touch with your partner during the work day unless there was some kind of an emergency situation. Consequently, going hours without communicating was pretty standard, and definitely not cause for tension.
Today though, if your attachment style tends to lean toward the anxious side, you can indulge your insecurities with near constant communication via the humble text message. Which probably won’t create any issues if your SO also happens to be a frequent texter. But if he prefers the less is more approach when it comes to instant messaging and you’re left spending hours waiting for him to text? Your relationship foundations could be under threat.
According to a 2013 study in the Couple & Relationship Therapy journal, women who texted their partners a lot considered their relationships very stable, however, the men who received all those texts weren’t as jazzed about them.
“We thought, ‘That’s weird!’ More texting was related to lower relationship stability,” Utah-based couples therapist, Dr Lori Schade, who authored the study, says.
“It’s an indicator of relationship distress. [In fact], men were thinking about breaking up.”
That’s because, men’s and women’s texting styles, much like our verbal communication styles, tend to be fundamentally different. We often text to share emotions and solve problems, while men often use texting simply to relay information. They don’t necessarily view it as the bonding opportunity we do, which can cause serious issues in the early phase of a relationship.
“If men sense emotional desperation, they’ll withdraw. They might even turn the phone off,” Schade says.
Still, others – both men and women – would rather just reply with one-word texts or emojis, frustrating their more verbal lovers.
Lara Levin, a 27-year-old living in San Francisco, tells Time.com that, after meeting a nice guy on the dating app Hinge and discovering their texting habits were incompatible in the months that followed, she decided to end the relationship.
“We went on a couple of great dates, but he wouldn’t respond to texts for over 24 hours, and when he did, he was just a horrible communicator,” she explains.
“I know myself well enough to know when something won’t work.”
2. OMG. Proper grammar is totes important
You know all those grammar rules we were expected to memorize in school? They may be backfiring now. Consider: the innocent period.
Researchers presented 126 New York college undergraduates with the following invitation either as a text message, or a handwritten note:
‘Dave gave me his extra tickets. Wanna come?’
Then they showed them the receiver’s affirmative one-word response (‘Okay’, ‘Sure’, ‘Yeah’, ‘Yup’).
The undergrads rated the very same positive replies ending with a period as “less sincere” than those with no punctuation mark, reported researchers at New York’s Binghamton University. The utterly harmless period seemed to suggest a lack of enthusiasm for Dave’s extra tickets.
Want to seem more sincere next time you fire off a text to your SO? Use an exclamation point, a 2015 study in the Computers in Human Behavior journal, suggests. Just don’t overdo it, or your partner may think you’re yelling at them.
3. Not replying instantly can cause serious issues
Life is hectic enough without having to reply immediately to every wink, question or food pic that your SO sends. But delayed replies can damage your credibility with your loved one.
“We are very uncomfortable with silence,” explains assistant professor of management at Lehigh University, Liuba Belkin.
“We interpret it in a very negative way.”
And thanks to the fact it’s rare for any of us to ever be further than arm’s reach from our phones, it’s easy to think the worst when someone doesn’t respond for hours.
“Because people do get back to you quickly most of the time, if someone does drag their heels, there are a few reasons, none of them great. Yes, they could be on holiday, or they could be playing games. The point is, in an age of instant messaging there is a reason why they’re choosing to not reply, and they’re not good,” UK psychologist Dr Blumberg told Daily Mirror.
4. Confronting your partner via text is a recipe for disaster
Most of us are guilty of using text messages to express anger or raise topics we’re upset about at some point in our relationships. After all, it’s much easier and there’s way less of a sense of confrontation involved. But herein lies the problem; without the threat of saying something out aloud that would sound way out of line, we’re much more likely to spiral down into nasty, viscious text exchanges. And, unlike our verbal altercations with our partners, our text exchanges are recorded in our partner’s phone, forever.
“I can’t raise my voice and shoot you a look to tell you this is a really big deal, so I’ll get really aggressive with my language [in a text message argument],” Schade says.
Not only can this feel like a form of ambush to the receiver, but it often leads to misunderstandings, name-calling, and worse, researchers say. If you want to practice the art of fighting fair, you need to back away from your phone when you feel an issue arising with your SO.
“Because you can’t see that you’re upsetting your partner, it might feel like you’re not having an impact, when you really are,” explains Schade.
Instead, if you’re upset about something, Schade advises you slow down, take a lot of deep breaths, and really think thoroughly about what you want to say.
But if you’re on the receiving end of a text attack, how can you diffuse it?
“Just say, ‘Hey, I really want to get this figured out,’ and reiterate that the relationship is important,” she advises.
“That makes all the difference in the world.”
Images via giphy.com and pexels.com.
Comment: Have you ever ended a relationship because of different texting styles?