In this electronic age, it’s almost inevitable that you’ll be connecting with your partner through texting. Reaching out in this way can be extremely helpful on practical matters, such as clarifying where and when you’ll be meeting for dinner. And, it can add another element to your romantic connection – a quick “I Love You” text feels good to send and can brighten your partner’s day. But used in the wrong way, texting can create problems and aggravate conflicts.
Here are three types of texts you should generally refrain from sending:
1. Your side of the argument: It can be tempting – really tempting – to text your side of the story to your partner. You can say everything on your mind without interruption, and you don’t have to listen to their response. You might even be tempted to “let ‘em have it” with both guns blazing since you won’t have to defend against their explosive response right away. But don’t do it.
Instead of continuing the argument via text, use the time you’re apart from your partner to cool down and think about the argument. When in a calmer state of mind, think about how you can explain your thoughts and feelings. Also, take the time to consider your partner’s side of the argument as best you understand it. And if you still just don’t get it, ask them – in person – to help you understand their perspective.
Part of what makes relationships work is the give-and-take that happens between people when they talk through conflicts and share their vulnerabilities with each other. You can’t do this through texting.
2. Something likely to upset your partner: If you need to discuss a hot-button issue that you know will upset your partner, do not text it. When you send explosive information over text, you’re saying that you’re more concerned about delivering the message than you are about the damage that the message might do to your partner… kind of like lobbing in a hand grenade. Deliver difficult news in person, so you can at least let them know that you care about how they feel and that you’ll be supportive as the two of you work through the issue.
3. Attempts to get closer to your partner: Texting can be a wonderful way to let your partner know you’re thinking of them, extending the closeness that you both feel. But avoid using it to create a closer relationship than what the two of you have already established. Just imagine the difference between “hearing” for the first time that your partner loves you through text versus in person. The former lacks a certain warmth and personal touch.
If – contrary to this general advice – a well-written and well-timed text does help affirm stronger feelings than either of you has shared before, be careful about continuing this as a trend. You may find yourself in an unusual situation—an emotionally close relationship that can only be expressed long distance.
Remember, even though we are all using technology more and more in our lives, relationships can only be truly close if you’re nurturing them mainly in person.
Entries for the Relationships blog are for general educational purposes only. They may or may not be relevant for your particular situation; and they should not be relied upon as a substitute for individual professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you need help for an emotional or behavioral problem, please seek the assistance of a psychologist or other qualified mental health professional.