Texting: “Benefit” or “bane” to your relationship?

The topic of texting came up over dinner last week. There were five at our table – two men and three women, ages 21 to 63.

All five of us agreed that texting has become part of our lives and is here to stay (even the ones like me who still can’t respond very quickly). We agreed texting is beneficial:

  • For letting someone know you’re running late.
  • Because it gives you time to think about what you want to say before you say it.
  • Because “u cn tlk in shthnd” (although this is a potential area for misunderstanding).

But then our conversation shifted to the difficulties with texting.

In particular – how easy it is to misunderstand a text because our voices aren’t there to convey the true meaning of the message.

The nuances in our voices show our moods. Are we happy, mad, sad, excited, impatient, tired, frustrated, loving, cautious, neutral, afraid, disappointed, concerned, etc.? How do you convey this range of emotions when you aren’t using your voice?

We came up with a few suggestions such as using smiley face icons and acronyms like “LOL” to “text” emotions. We decided these were helpful, but didn’t fully solve the problem.

Discussion then moved on to another downside of texting, which is, a few texts can quickly turn into an entire conversation. And this presented a problem for us women at the table. We find texting to be unsatisfying because we feel connected when we  “talk” and texting doesn’t feel like talking.

We agreed that most women will become frustrated if texting becomes the major method of communication. Both men at the table said they had experienced women getting frustrated with them and now they understood why.

My advice to women who would rather talk by phone to men? When men start a conversation with you via text tell them, “I miss hearing your voice. It would make me so happy if you would call me.”

Then when they call be sure to tell them, “Thank you for calling, it makes me so happy to hear your voice.” (And, by the way, this is an easy place to start setting boundaries in the area of asking for what you want and need.)

How do you feel about texting? Have you found an effective way to convey how you’re feeling when you’re texting?

~ Christine
Dating and Relationship Expert

Goal Setting + Purposeful Dating = Satisfying Relationships

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6 Responses to “Texting: “Benefit” or “bane” to your relationship?”

  1. Jane Garee Says:

    Christine,

    Great post! I certainly identify with long text messages that leave me frustrated and thinking, “Why can’t we just talk by phone?” In addition to being more personal, talking can actually SAVE time because texting takes forever when those messages get long! I would also like to add, for all relationships, not just romantic ones, that a person is probably wise to respond in the manner in which they were originally contacted. If someone calls and leaves you a message, call them back rather than text or email. If they send you an email, respond with an email rather than call. People usually communicate in the moment in the way that is best for them regarding that specific topic so matching their “language” in direct response to that specific communication is usually the best route to go. You can always decide together if it would be better to move to a different medium.

    Thanks for you posts. They are always so insightful and so helpful!

    • Christine Says:

      Thanks Jane for your great reply. Yes, I truly understand how frustrating texting can feel especially to a woman. And I agree (as someone who experiences this regularly) texting does take me longer then talking.

      I respect your additional advice that it would be wise for people to respond in the manner they were originally contacted. And as you also mentioned people tend to communicate in the manner they are accustomed to. So you can imagine that if you didn’t realize (easy to happen in our busy distracted lives) the other person wanted to communicate in a different way then you did how you might just respond in the way that was comfortable to you.

      So, taking the time to explain the way(s) you prefer to communicate to the important people in your life and working out a compromise with their communication styles will certainly contribute to smoother conversations.

      Christine

  2. Laurie Cantus Says:

    Great article Christine. I never thought about the communication issues that could arise around texting and miscommunication.

    I personally looooove texting. I can’t always pick up the phone, and sometimes I just need to convey a short message. My rule though – if the conversation goes beyond three messages and starts turning into a full blown conversation – pick up the phone and call!

    • Christine Says:

      Thanks Laurie for talking about how texting works for you. And I would like to compliment you on the great rule you have about when texting needs to turn into a telephone conversation. Knowing your boundaries and clearly telling the other people in your life about them tends to keep everyone on the same page.

  3. Lee Says:

    I like Jane’s thoughts on texting (long text messages are frustrating and talking on the phone would save time). I also agree with Laurie (texting is good for short messages and after three messages a phone call might be better). To add to their comments, I’d like to say that texting can be great for an introvert. At the end of a long day, a big social event, etc. — I don’t have energy for a phone call and it’s a relief that I can text instead. During these times, I’m willing to text and text and text, because it’s so much easier than picking up the phone and talking.

    • Christine Says:

      Thank you Lee for your helpful perspective. Your comment is a great reminder how different our personality styles can be. I’m curious how you handle the possible challenges to convey emotions and nuances through your texts. I’m sure your answer will be helpful for us “extroverts” to understand this from your point of view.

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