What do your texting habits reveal about you?
A recent study analyzed the effects of texting on satisfaction in romantic relationships, with a specific focus on the role of attachment style.
Attachment theory originates from John Bowlby, and later Mary Aimsworth. It has its origins in analyzing the mother and child relationship. Through observing a child’s behavior in different situations, Bowlby and Aimsworth got an idea of how the child attached themselves to their mothers.
Three types of attachment were identified
- Secure attachment: The child would be mildly anxious when the mother left, would avoid the stranger, and be friendly to the stranger once the mother returned.
- Insecure attachment: The child was distressed when the mother left.
- Avoidant attachment: The child was not distressed at all.
These were later applied to adults in a variety of studies. The texting in relationship study surveyed people who identified themselves as being in a romantic relationship. 395 students were surveyed (175 male and 220 female). All were over 19 years of age, and the average relationship length was 15 months.
The study aimed to determine two things
1. How individuals communicated (via text or other means).
2. What the relationship was between attachment style and texting habits.
How individuals communicated
Texting habits and other forms of communication (such as e-mail, internet chat, Skype, and face-to-face communication) were analyzed.
“While some partners virtually never communicated via text, others sent as many as 500 texts a day to their partner, which accounted for more than 90% of their communication.”
The relationship between attachment style and texting habits
Participants were placed in one of three categories identified earlier (this is adapted as it relates to adults):
- Secure attachment style: People have a strong self-image, are secure, can enter into a committed relationship, and do not require constant re-assurance.
- Insecure attachment style: Their self-image is not healthy. They are insecure, requiring constant reassurance and experiencing anxiety when separated from loved ones.
- Avoidant attachment style: Individuals are highly independent, often seeking control and preferring emotional distance.
Those who were categorized under the avoidant and insecure attachment styles (based on their personality) texted significantly more than those classified under the secure attachment style.
What were the reasons for this and what are common examples in everyday life?
Texting regularly as part of the insecure attachment style.
Individuals falling under the insecure category text more regularly due to fears of abandonment, insecurity, as well as their constant desire and need for re-assurance. Quite simply, they need to be loved. Whilst it is recognized that texting is less intimate than a face-to-face meeting, it reduces the individuals anxiety of not being close to their partner and provides them with needed reassurance and comfort.
A common example includes a partner who constantly texts you when you are on a weekend away with friends. They seek reassurance that you love them and want to remind you that they still love you.
Being separated (due to working in a different location, for example) will also cause a constant stream of messaging throughout the day to restore comfort.
Texting regularly as part of the avoidance category.
For those classified under the avoidance category, texting more regularly provides a means to maintain emotional distance and control over how often texting occurs. Remember, emotional distance and control are distinctive traits of the individual falling under this category.
Using the previous example of a weekend away with friends, this kind of individual will also text more regularly, but for different reasons. They will want to know what you are doing and who you are going with. Knowing this makes them feel in control even when there is a distance between you.
Considering that emotional distance is a trait, they will struggle to express themselves face-to-face. As a result, such emotion will be expressed over text, with a flood of messages sent directly after the partners have been in contact with one another.
So, what category do you fall into?