The digital information age has made staying in constant contact so effortless and commonplace. We can now share the most important moments of our lives as frequently as we like with the ease of a few simple clicks. Staying in touch takes little exertion. Sometimes we have relationships with no physical communication at all. We can now do it completely alone, scrolling social feeds in the comfort of our own homes, or cozily on the toilet at work.
However, no matter interconnected we are digitally, the ease of information sharing and instant communication can place a wedge between couples that we shouldn’t ignore.
It’s common to text someone you care about all day, and how couldn’t you? With the aforementioned ease in which we communicate, combined with the simple fact that you’re thinking about them, you’d have to be some sort of tenured Buddhist monk to have the self-restraint not to say something. In fact, I don’t think texting frequently throughout the day is a bad thing, but we should pose some questions before conclusions are reached.
When you’re texting are you ignoring friends that you’re actually hanging out with? When you go get beers with a buddy, can you not put your phone down or ignore it for an hour without having crippling anxiety that your partner will be either angry with you or cheating on you?
In texting, do you have plans (any plans at all) to meet up with that person face-to-face some time that week or weekend? Are you going to pick her up for dinner at her favorite restaurant on Thursday so you text her Wednesday afternoon expressing your excitement for tomorrow’s plans? Are you surprising him with tickets to the season opener of his favorite basketball team and just can’t wait to tell him, so you shoot him a picture of the confirmation email?
I used to be the type of person who was against texting all day, even though I enjoyed it and it was a consistent source of laughter. Recent research and previous articles written regarding the intricacies of texting, have proven that there is in fact a dopamine release when you receive texts messages. Therefore, it only makes sense that these dopamine releases will either increase, or steadily stay at a high level, if those texts come from someone you really enjoy. I don’t think texting is a short road to disaster in relationships. That is, if you’re using it in the right way.
A recent article by Psychology Today suggests that texting in relationships can go one of two ways. The scenario involving higher intimacy has couples texting comments of honest affection and sincere connection (i.e. “I miss you” or “I’m thinking about you and hope you’re kicking today’s butt” or “I know yesterday was rough, so I’m on my way to your office with a breakfast burrito from your favorite food cart”). The scenario in which couples are headed for trouble is when texting is done to resolve conflict, to repair damage done, or (the worst) to straight up fight and argue.
We know the dangers of cyber bullying and the horrendous outcomes that occur when someone says hurtful things while cowering behind an illuminated screen. Though we live in the dawn of emojis and GIFs, emotion is still hard to read via text message, especially when abbreviations are brought into play. If you need to argue, be the bigger partner and suggest meeting in person to talk it out. It doesn’t matter if you’re “the shyer one” or “afraid he’ll clam up”, it might end up saving your relationship in the long run.
You should also be honest with your lover about how you want to communicate digitally. If you don’t like texting all day, say so. It might be a good idea to pair this with something like what Adam Sandler’s character “Sonny” (from the movie Big Daddy) said to Joey Lauren Adam’s character “Layla” after they start dating, “When I’m not with you, I’m thinking of you.”
Honesty like this, especially when it’s sincere and from the heart, will go a long way. If you like texting, but are going to spend some time with friends, shoot straight! Any functional, adult relationship will understand if one party says, “Hey, babe, I’m going out with the girls tonight so I might be away from my phone. But I’m excited to see you after and hope you had a good day.”
Save your jealousy and “my mind might wander” BS for a different article, because if you really love and care about the other person as much as you say, you should trust them and respect their time with friends. If they gave you reason not to trust them, ask yourself why yous are still with them?
In closing, we are all blessed by communication convenience; however, we need to be wise about it if we want to harbor relationships that mean anything, and can withstand difficult times. Don’t ignore your friends for your lover, and don’t ignore your lover for whatever’s on Instagram. Trust me, the notifications and text messages aren’t going anywhere. It’s all in the digital ether waiting for you later.
On top of cheating others out of having quality conversations, moments, and relationships with you, you’re cheating yourself just as much.
Featured photo credit: Girl Taking Photo With Smartphone On Sunny Day / Ed Gregory via stokpic.com