The Effects of Texting on a Relationship

Here’s another conundrum for you guys. I’ve already twisted my mind into a pretzel over this one.

As we progress farther into the digital age, couples are texting more and more. Some people meet and talk for the first time via text message. I actually had a terrible experience with this:

I met a girl through a close female friend of mine. She gave me her number and said: “text her and see if you can get to know her. I promise you’ll like her.” And I did. We texted a TON the next three days, and then I met her in person and we started dating.

The problem was, at the very beginning, face to face communication was hard and awkward. We felt perfectly comfortable texting each other about anything, but actual confrontation– it just felt weird. It took us months to get past that.

In my current relationship, my girlfriend never had a cell phone plan with texting, so we couldn’t text. Ever. And I am so glad for this. We met in person, got to know each other in person and through actual phone conversations, and we never experienced anything like this awkward phase.

So my question is, do you think that all this texting is affecting people’s ability to form close, meaningful relationships in any way?

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15 thoughts on “The Effects of Texting on a Relationship

  1. Metacognition says:

    [Might as well include all forms of written communication in my opinion. You’ll run into the same situations with pen and paper, texts, forums, chatting, etc.

    Actually, it doesn’t surprise me at all that things were initially awkward between you and her, for 2 reasons, in my opinion.
    First, only about 10% of communication is in the actual words used. A lot of it is in the body language. Things like eye contact, facial expressions, tone and such. I studied body language a long time back and a lot of it is pretty true. Typically when you first meet someone face to face, you’re learning all the little quirks in their body language at the same time, so you don’t really notice it, but with texting and such, you have the opportunity to get to know someone beforehand, so then you when you do meet, you’ve got to feel your way around a bit first.
    Second is that there’s a bit of a disconnect via written communication, whether it be a computer screen, a phone window, or even paper. You know there’s another person on the other side somewhere, but you can’t see them judging you as you “talk,” so you become much more open. For example: If we were face to face and I were to start to tell you that I enjoy dressing up like a power ranger and I saw your eyes widen with shock, I might clam up and not mention that I go out hunting for crime as well (I don’t, but it’s a good example at least). What this means is that when you DO meet in person, you’ve been more open than you probably would’ve been.

    So with all that said, do I think it’s affecting how we form relationships? Resoundingly yes. But that doesn’t mean that it’s affecting them negatively. We need to learn how to communicate with each other all over again in a manner of speaking. In some ways, it’s allowing us to open up much more quickly and let’s us get to the heart of matters quicker, but we need to remember that while it’s just a computer screen or phone window that we’re looking at, there’s a person on the other side.

  2. Matt Sanchelli says:

    [To me, the question of “do you think that all this texting is affecting people’s ability to form close, meaningful relationships in any way” is kind of a Catch 22.

    It has good and bad elements.

    When beginning a relationship you can kind of compare it to the likes of Online Dating. Here you only get to know the person from behind a keyboard and you begin getting to know one another, and forming a relationship, simply based on the words you’ve typed out (and maybe some uploaded profile pics). Texting isn’t any different, since you can send word, picture and even video, just minus an official profile.

    In either case, the length of time building this ‘technological rapport’ is entirely up to the two parties and how long they choose to wait before meeting in person.

    However, face-to-face chemistry can’t be determined by how long you spent getting to know each other. You could spend 2 weeks, or 6 months, e-mailing, and still have an awkward meeting,. Sometimes the chemistry just isn’t there.

    Now, me personally, if I were in the stages of introducing myself to someone, and getting to know them, I wouldn’t text…I’d call. It’s like it you want to ask someone out on a date…take the extra few seconds to call them and talk to them instead of sending a text.

    I say save the texting for when you have started building the foundation of a relationship with someone. At that point it is definitely beneficial to having a strong relationship with someone; from sending random fun messages, little I miss/love yous, or confirming plans when both of you are otherwise unable to actually call and talk (ie: at work, the gym, etc.)

    Times are changing and we just need to slowly adapt to them. As Metacognition mentioned above various forms of communication….we’ve slowly progresses in time: Morse Code, Telegraph, Telephone, Letters, E-mail, Instant Messaging,, Cell Phones, Online Dating, Skype, Texting, Picture/Video Phones…

  3. EricaSwagger says:

    [It’s bad, but my boyfriend and I have occasional fights via text. It’s easier to get your point across when the other person doesn’t cut you off or say something to make you lose your train of thought. It’s also easier to be more open and honest because of the distance… It makes it easier to be blunt and tell how you really feel. When you’re face to face, you often chicken out of saying the whole harsh truth, etc.

    It might not be right to take the easy way out, but when I have something important that needs to be said, I prefer to write it out and “send” than to try and get it all out in person. Something about seeing his face makes me less angry than I know I should be, if that makes any sense.

  4. Mark says:

    [I think the issue is that it is easier to say personal things when your not face to face with a person. So you end up telling them things you normally might not have, and then when you meet them for reals, you feel uncomfortable because you’ve said too much.

  5. Dave Jag says:

    [Texting, like all technology, has its place. Texting was designed to get an URGENT message to someone in a non-disruptive manner, for instance, if they are in a meeting or on a phone call. If those conditions do not apply (i.e. it’s not urgent and/or the recipient is not indisposed), the proper protocol is a phone call (that’s why we all have cell phones). If it is even less urgent as to not require the immediacy of a phone call, then email is the acceptable protocol.

    Because of the flagrant misuse of the technology, we now have “social texting” which is little more than cowardice in action. Whenever I get a text, I know (a)the sender doesn’t want to talk to me and (b)this issue is not that important or they would have called me! For those reasons, I never respond. If you want to know who your friends really are, stop sending AND answering texts for awhile and see who picks up the phone. You will be unpleasantly surprised. (Don’t even get me started on the sheer rudeness of someone pulling out their phone and starting to text while they are engaged in conversation with me. I wish they’d just kick me in the nuggets next time… I would be less offended.)

    So, with all that in mind I must say: REALLY??? Your friend said, “Text her and see if you can get to know her” and you DID? I guess you’re lucky your friend didn’t say, “Go milk that shark and see if gold nuggets come out” or else you’d be sitting in the water on a short stool now 🙂

    Sorry to be hard on you… these self-inflicted issues just drive me insane. I’m VERY happy to hear that everything in your current relationship is going well, so it sounds like you are smarter from the experience, and that is all I can ask of anybody.

    So… to all of you guys out there… Next time you want to get to know a girl, call her up and ask her out on a date. The silence between the words will tell you more than what she says. Besides… it has worked for a hundred years.

  6. Dennis Hong says:

    [Even though I’m not a big fan of texting back and forth with someone I’m dating (my sense of humor is pretty dry, so I get in trouble sometimes if I don’t sprinkle emoticons liberally in my texts, which then makes me come across as a grin-happy freak), I think we have to get used to texting as a valid form of communication, different from and not a substitute for phone conversations, but equally valid. I think texting just hasn’t been around long enough yet for us to really figure out the etiquette behind it.

    Either way, it’s a new technology that’s probably here to stay, so we have to accept it. I mean, when the phone was invented, I wonder if people thought it got in the way of really getting to know someone, because you couldn’t see their face….

  7. resullins says:

    [Absolutely. Texting is appropriate for things like “what do you want for dinner,” or “hey, I’m running 5 minutes late.” It’s absolutely not appropriate for “Oh, I love you so much,” or “Will you marry me?”

    Hell, you can even use it for “I’m not wearing any underwear today.” But you can’t use it as your main form of communication.

    Use it for what it’s made for…

  8. Solstice says:

    [I agree with Parker Vaughn, it’s similar to online dating if you text all the time in the beginning. Except that you can’t fit that much in a text, where you can be wordier in an online dating message or email. I don’t think texting affects relationships if you don’t constantly rely on it. It’s nice to send each other a text during the day to let your bf/gf know you’re thinking of him/her. If you rely heavily on it for communication, then you might run into some issues. But as long as you see each other often and communicate verbally over the phone (if both of you enjoy phone conversations) then texting each other shouldn’t be a hindrance to your relationship.

  9. theattack says:

    [My boyfriend and I are long distance, and years ago, we got to know each other over MSN and email. While it’s much better to spend time in person, technology has some huge advantages. He and I know each other better than most people know their spouses of 20+ years. We talked about everything there is to talk about over technology. In person you have physical prompts around you that suck up some of your conversation time, like picking out movies, or when you get on a subway and discuss your opinions/frustrations with the subway. Over technology, you learn to just randomly come up with conversation topics. You end up talking more about yourselves, your life philosophies, etc.

  10. Eleanor Roosevelt says:

    [I like texting for the convenience and speed of it, but I wouldn’t use it as my primary mode of communication to get to know someone. But as someone who lives far away from family and close friends, I do love it as a means to keep in touch and keep up on each other’s lives!

  11. DavidIsGreat says:

    [I don’t see anything wrong with it. Maybe you guys were both more shy than you realized which is why texting was a good form of communication. You still communicated and sounds like effectively. I’m pretty sure this is one of those things that varies based on personality and phone plans. If you’re cool with it, keep doing it.

  12. Kate B. says:

    [I dislike texts in general. People have begun to use them as substitutes for real conversation. (Don’t get me started on what they do to the English language.) Plus, I don’t have a texting plan on my phone so they cost me a lot of money. In my field, it is also bad office etiquette to have your cell on all day, so mine’s off. If someone wants to talk to me, they can call or send an email if it’s not urgent. I wouldn’t take someone seriously if their first interaction with me was a text. If you want to get my attention, speak to me.

  13. Nikolas Murdock says:

    [I had the same experience with an ex-girlfriend. We met because of a mutual friend and started talking over messenger. The thing is, people seem to feel a sense of anonymity whenever a screen separates you from the other person, even if your name is displayed. She seemed much braver when we spoke online but couldn’t say the same things when we saw each other.
    I can’t say our physical conversations were awkward, but there was definitely a much slower rhythm than when we were texting. For me it was kind of frustrating and I did tell her that it was, but it’s something that cannot be changed easily. I would certainly prefer a relationship where texting was not involved or only as a means of setting up where you’re going to meet.

  14. Rachyl says:

    [SMS is just like a blankie for most of us. Something to hide under when we want to ignore the bad stuff, something to wrap around us like a cape when we want to appear braver/smarter/awesomer and now a days, it seems to be like something we can’t live without and when someone tries and takes it away “the blankie”, we start crying and don’t know how to properly act.

    Like everyone else has stated, texting can be beneficial and destructive at the same time for relationships. Why call about running late or remind someone about laundry when it is usually quicker to send a message but it also gets EXTREMELY ANNOYING when the other person wants to have a full on conversation with you and when you call, that person doesn’t bother answering but text back that they aren’t in the mood to talk or some other BS. If you’re not in the mood to talk, WHY ARE YOU TEXTING ME THEN?!?!?!? 😛

    I’m starting to hate all forms of technology lately because human beings ARE hiding behind it and normal interactions face to face start to become awkward. Granted, I’m just awkward no matter what but it ticks me off when I go out with my friends to get away from the house in hopes to have a normal conversation and when we all sit down to chat, someone/s not part of the conversation because they have to send and read their text/twitter/facebook/can’t lay off their crack. Next time you go to a coffee shop or out for dinner, look around at all the tables and see how many people are sitting next to each other but aren’t talking because both of them are on they’re own phones, too busy with the electronic world to care what’s going on in the real world.

    If SkyNet ever gets the chance to destroy the human race, don’t launch missles. Just take away our able to text message and make humans interact with other humans. That would be entertaining and terrifying all at the same time.

  15. Heather says:

    [I agree that people rely on texting too much. My last boyfriend texted me when he wanted to break up a few times, but he refused to take my phone calls nor meet in person. Being that he’s 53, I figured he’d be more mature and less into technology than men 30 years younger. I was wrong. It annoyed me to no end that he hid behind his text messages and couldn’t say things to my face, let alone over the phone. I find it extremely disrespectful.

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