Before you hit the send button on your phone to text your significant other, you should make sure it’s something nice — and not serious. Couples in committed relationships who let their thumbs do the talking when it comes to serious conversations, arguments, or apologies are found to be disconnected and have lower relationship quality, according to a recent study.
In the age of instant communication, technology has become a more important tool in relationship formation than previous years. Many couples have become too dependent on exchanging messages via phone or e-mail instead of face-to-face conversation. Based on an Esure survey, one in 10 couples spend more time talking to their other half using hi-tech communications than in person.
Publishing in the Journal of Couple and Relationship Therapy, researchers from Brigham Young University wanted to examine the extent to which excessive texting takes a toll on couples in committed relationships. The study observed 276 young couples around the U.S. who were in a serious relationship (38 percent), engaged (46 percent), and married (16 percent). Each participant had to complete an extensive relationship assessment that included questions about their technology use in the relationship.
The findings showed 82 percent of couples traded text messages with their other half multiple times a day. The context of these messages did not always include the typical “I <3 u!!!” or “Where do you want to go for lunch?” The researchers believe sending frequent texts is a form of “relationship maintenance” or conversations to help couples be in sync with one another. While this intent for constant communication via texting may be good, it can get in the way of face-to-face conversations and potentially make things worse in the relationship.
“Reaction to disappointment and reality testing occurs more quickly face to face,” said Jonathan Sandberg, an author of the study, in a news release. “There is a narrowness with texting and you don’t get to see the breadth of a person that you need to see.”
Women were found to use text messages to apologize, work out differences, or make decisions, which was associated with lower relationship quality. For men, excessive texting was associated with lower relationship quality; more texting doesn’t necessarily mean a better relationship. The male participants in the study got tired of receiving texts and sending a lot of texts themselves, which were both connected to lower relationship satisfaction.
The researchers believe that this type of behavior could be indicative of a bigger issue. "Maybe as they exit the relationship, they text more frequently because that’s a safer form of communication. We don’t know why, that is just a conjecture,” said Lori Schade, an author of the study.
Couples in committed relationships shouldn’t kick their texting habits to the curb just yet. Significant others can rejoice in the correlation between loving texts and relationship satisfaction. In the study, participants who said something sweet in a text were found to increase the level of satisfaction in their relationship.
To take the questionnaire used in the study, click here.