Can texting improve or ruin your relationship happiness? It depends on the type of communication you use.
According to a new Brigham Young University study published by researchers Lori Schade and Jonathan Sandberg, romantic couples who text each other with confirming messages ("How are you?" "How's it going?" "I miss you!" "I feel tingly just thinking about you!!!") tend to experience greater relationship satisfaction. Confirming messages are best conveyed with an emotional dimension - communicating essentially: "I care about you," and "You're important in my life." In fact, sending affectionate messages to one's partner yield even greater emotional satisfaction than receiving them.
On the other hand, couples who rely on texting for conflict resolution tend to experience lower relationship satisfaction. When texting, vital verbal, non-verbal and emotional cues are invariably missed, which can severely limit a couple's ability to reconcile.
“There is a narrowness with texting and you don’t get to see the breadth of a person that you need to see.”
– Jonathan Sandberg
Significantly, the BYU study also revealed key differences in how men and women text in conflict situations. While men are more likely to text to attack or avoid (fight or flight response), women are more likely to text to back down or diffuse. Arguing through texting may feel safer for some, but the digital barrier may actually contribute to greater relationship fallout.
"Women who text more might do so as a means to resolve issues or apologize; men might text more because they’re unsatisfied with the relationship and texting is how they avoid emotional intimacy.”
– Lori Schade
Conclusion: Texting can be an effective tool for maintaining, nurturing, and stimulating a relationship. However, when arguments occur, dealing with the problem in person (using effective communication skills) is likely to produce better conflict resolution and greater relational success.
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