Does it matter how often you text your partner?
You might think that if you text your partner frequently and they also message you on a regular basis, then it’s a positive sign that all is well in your relationship. After all, doesn’t text messaging prove that you are thinking about one another and want to stay connected throughout the day?
However, research suggests that the link between texting patterns and relationship satisfaction differs as a function of gender. In other words, men and women do not think alike when it comes to how often they send messages and how happy they are with their partners.
How the research was done
Research published in the Journal of Couple and Relationship Therapy outlines a study in which the texting habits and relationship satisfaction of 276 emerging adults (those aged between 18 and 25) in committed relationships were asked to report on their communication habits and feelings about their relationships. Each participant was asked how often they sent text messages to their partner. Of the 276 participants included in the study, half were engaged or married. They were also asked other probing questions, such as how many times they had considered ending their relationship, and the extent to which they felt as though their partner cared for and paid attention to them.
Perceptions in common
In some respects, men and women use texting in similar ways. For instance, the study found that both sexes are more likely to express affection via text when they feel bonded to their partners. However, there was a clear sex difference when it came to other findings. For female participants, there was a positive correlation between the number of texts they sent on a daily basis and the degree to which they believed their relationship was stable.
Negative correlation between the number of texts they sent and the stability of their partnership reported
However, this was not the case for the men in the study, who reported a negative correlation between the number of texts they sent and the stability of their partnership. Furthermore, there was a negative association between the number of texts the average male participant sent to his partner and his relationship satisfaction. The study also found that women were more likely than men to attempt sensitive or difficult conversations via text. However, participants who reported doing this as a means of resolving conflict were less happy with their partnership.
What is recommended to do then
The study results are correlational, which means that the researchers cannot say that, for example, sending many text messages causes women to feel more secure in the stability of their relationships. However, the findings can still present interesting and useful starting points for discussions around the use of technology in relationships. Lori Schade, lead researcher on the project, told NPR that men may use texting as a means of retaining emotional distance from their partners, which may explain why those who send the most messages tend to be the least satisfied.
“Maybe it was a way for them [men] to check out or not have to show up, by using their cellphone instead,” she speculated.
Schade recommends that whilst there is no need to stop texting your partner altogether, tricky conversations should be saved for face-to-face meetings rather than a prolonged exchange of messages. She also believes that real-life conversations tend to result in fewer hurt feelings, because when texting people “have time to think about it, and stew about it, and then respond again. It’s almost harder to disconnect”.
So when you message your partner, try to keep your communications light-hearted. Stick to talking about upcoming events or the positive elements of your relationship. Use your phone to make them feel loved and appreciated.
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