Texting and Relationship Satisfaction

How we communicate with one another has certainly changed over the last few decades.  Currently, 98% of young adults own a cell phone. In fact, texting has surpassed phone calls in preferred communication in general. It is now the preferred way young adults talk with each other and their romantic partners. Recent research illustrates how texting impacts relationship satisfaction.

Research into Texting and Relationships

As young people spend more time on cell phones, they are also spending more time communicating with their partners via text. In fact, it is estimated that 31% of teens break up with their partners by a text message! Research that appears in the Journal of Computer and Human Behaviors looked at texting and relationship satisfaction. Specifically, the research focused on relationship satisfaction as it pertained to similarities in:

  • How frequently people texted.
  • How often they initiated a text exchange.
  • If they text one another to simply say hello.

The study involved 205 participants between 18-29 years old who had a romantic partner.  

Controls were put in place for factors such as gender, the length of the relationship, as well as for issues such as attachment anxiety and also avoidance.  

Results for Texting and Relationships

The results of the research showed that the greater the similarities in texting behavior and texting style, the greater the overall relationship satisfaction. For example, if two partners both texted twice a day there was a higher probability of relationship satisfaction. However, when one person texted at a different rate than their partner, the results reflected a lower relationship satisfaction.

If we look deeper we discover that texting is what’s called asynchronous communication. This is because you can choose when you want to text, as opposed to when you are having a conversation with a person face-to-face. Couples that have similar texting styles can thus be perceived as having greater compatibility versus couples that have dissimilar styles.

How We Respond to Our Partners Matters

In addition to texting frequency and style is how we respond to our partner when texting.  This is especially true in a new relationship. If a new couple establishes norms early on, this can influence relationship satisfaction. For instance, if a person responds too slowly to the other’s text message it could imply that they have less interest. On the flip side, responding too quickly can be perceived as being overbearing. Thus, it can be helpful for couples to establish and follow a pace and frequency to texting at the beginning of their relationship.

Mismatched Texting Styles and Relationships

When there is a mismatch in texting styles it can sometimes reveal greater relationship problems. If one partner expects an immediate response and the other does not reply on time, that can cause conflict. Alternatively, if one partner gives frequent updates about their day and the other partner finds those same updates unimportant, that too can be problematic for the relationship.

Tips for Texting in Relationships

If text messaging is causing problems in your relationship, consider these tips:

  • Discuss in advance the preferred use of texting. Emergencies vs. up-to-the-minute updates vs. an established middle ground?
  • How frequent should you text each other? Twice a day vs. ten times a day?
  • Important relationship issues should involve face-to-face discussion.
  • If there is a mismatch in texting styles, speak up and communicate with one another.  Explain what the mismatch involves and if you can’t or don’t want to text as often as your partner desires.

There is no escaping that text messaging has become an integral part of how we communicate with other people, including our partners. However, if texting or other electronic communication is causing issues in the relationship consider seeking out professional counseling for help.

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