Even in our closest relationships, we’re often likely to talk by text rather than face to face these days. A recent study of these short messages shows their impact on how we communicate with the people we care about most.
Researchers at Brigham Young University surveyed couples in committed relationships. They discovered that some things are better off being discussed in person.
The major findings included men reporting less relationship satisfaction due to excessive texting. For women, dissatisfaction arose when text was used to apologize or manage complex relationship issues and differences.
The good news is that everyone liked sharing endearments by text. If you want your texts to reduce stress and bring you closer together with your loved ones, try these mobile communication tips.
Steps to Take with Your Loved Ones
Be gentle. It can be tempting to say things by text that you would soften if you were talking to someone in the same room. Imagine how you would feel if you were on the receiving end.
Address conflicts directly. Using text to avoid an argument tends to backfire. Discussing sensitive issues works better when you can see each other and respond accordingly. If your partner already looks remorseful about forgetting your anniversary, you’ll know it’s time to drop the subject.
Apologize in person. Asking for forgiveness becomes more meaningful when you make a personal appearance. You’ll also be in a better position to prevent any further misunderstandings.
Listen to each other. Give each other your full attention. Watch for facial expressions, body language and other non-verbal cues.
Put your phone away. Except for emergencies, set your phone aside when you have company. Focus on the people around you.
Ask for a recess. It’s easy for a conversation to escalate when you’re texting back and forth. If things are getting too heated, suggest tabling the subject until you can get together later.
Steps to Take Yourself
Count your texts. Other studies suggest that frequent texting causes stress. Try to limit yourself to 50 texts or fewer each day.
Set a curfew. Late night texting can interfere with your rest and peace of mind. Plus, the lighted screen makes it harder for you to fall asleep.
Slow down. Many people feel pressured to reply immediately to every message. Give yourself time to think before writing back. Schedule a few times a day to check messages instead of constantly having one eye on your phone.
Clarify your language. Text is better suited to simple updates like what time to meet up for lunch. If you need to talk about something more complex, read it over to check for any wording that could cause confusion.
Express your love. Everyone is a winner when you share your affection. The BYU study found that the people sending loving messages reported being even happier than the partner who received them.
Send a letter. When you have something special to say, an old fashioned letter may spread more joy than any text. Surprise your parents with a greeting card or slip a love note into your spouse’s pocket.
Hit delete. Holding onto electronic messages from your insurance company may come in handy in a dispute. When you’re texting with your loved ones, it’s better to let go of resentments than to archive them.
Overall, texting is great when you want to say something nice to each other. On the other hand, wait until you’re face to face to talk about the serious stuff. Look at texting as a supplement to talking rather than a replacement.