• Why Your Texting Style Matters in Relationships

    texting, relationships, texts, dating, conflict, Dr. Gary Brown, Los Angeles therapist, individual therapy, relationship therapy, DrGaryLATherapist

    It’s amazing how much time we spend on our personal glowing rectangle devices, otherwise known as our phones. Sometimes, I don’t know what we did without them! Can you even get to an unfamiliar place without the use of your phone?

    Obviously, the main reason we use our phones is for communication and most of that time is spent texting our friends, family, and significant others. And when it comes to dating, texting may be a big part of a budding relationship.

    So, it may be important to understand the impact of your and your partner’s texting style.

    It’s good to know what they like and what they don’t like in terms of texting. For example, in terms of the volume and frequency of texting, are the two of you a good match for the amount of texting; do either of you want more; or do you text your significant other too much?

    Here are different texting styles and considerations to help you see how to see if your texting styles match up.

    1. Frequent texting (checking in lots throughout the day, or double/triple texting without hesitation)

    There really are no hard and fast rules about the frequency of texting throughout the day. Texting styles – and the needs of each person in a conversation – have to be taken into consideration.

    It may be quite natural for one or both of you to want to touch base during the course of the day. And that’s fantastic if it works for both of you.

    For some, that may come across as too needy, annoying, clingy, paranoid, or possessive – even if they did not intend to be.

    Of course, It may be completely ok to double or triple-text so long as it is not being done out of anger, desperation or too one-sided.

    With all these variables, it’s important to find your texting comfort level with each other when dating.

    2. Using lots of emojis

    People seem to be rather split when it comes to the use of emojis. I think it’s really about personal preference. Having said that, an emoji can offer a bit of “emotional flavor” to a text.

    text, emojis, relationships, dating , Dr. Gary Brown, Los Angeles therapist, individual therapy, relationship therapy, DrGaryLATherapist

    I recommend using them in non-business-related texts. They can be fun and help to personalize the conversation. Having said that, you don’t want to be using more than one or two in any given conversation. More than that and it can feel a bit immature or that you’re not taking your relationship seriously.

    3. Taking forever to respond

    I have to confess that this is one of my personal pet peeves. It is just a matter of common courtesy to respond to a text in a timely manner.

    It’s one thing if you need a few moments or even a minute or two to respond if you need to think about it but making someone wait for an exceptionally long period of time – unless you’re at a meeting at work or otherwise legitimacy occupied – could possibly be seen as being rude.

    In general, I think the Golden Rule applies. If you believe that 20 minutes or 12 hours is acceptable to return their text message then you better not be the one checking your phone awaiting their response!

    texting, dating, relationships, Dr. Gary Brown, Los Angeles therapist, individual therapy, relationship therapy, DrGaryLATherapist

    To reduce the chances of being inconsiderate, find out where each of you is with response time comfort level and do a quick check-in with each other. Checking in from time to time may help prevent any misunderstandings.

    It could also decrease anxiety and be less of an argument when (and if) you have a real disagreement (read: fight).

    4. Only reaching out when necessary or to answer a question

    Again, this is really dependent on each of the people involved and their specific styles and needs. Texting infrequently or only for very specific reasons – e.g. scheduling a get-together – is quite fine.

    Some people simply do not have the time to always respond or, they prefer old-school – an actual phone conversation.

    Whatever the case may be, hopefully, you handled it with an easy check-in.

    5. Sending LOL-worthy gifs, memes, etc. “just because”

    This can be a wonderful way to send a little surprise to someone you care about – be it a friend or a romantic interest. It’s very much like sending flowers to them when there are no specific reasons to do so. These can be very thoughtful ways of letting someone know that you are thinking of them and that you care.

    It makes you both feel good to give and receive and lets them know they are meaningful to you.

    6. Using all proper punctuation

    I don’t think there is any concrete “right or wrong” about punctuation but I like to offer the following guideline. When we text, we are engaging in a conversation with someone. Even if we are just “chatting” we need to remember that words have meaning. How we punctuate can contribute to how we are experienced when we text. For example, some view the use of a period at the end of each word, phrase, or sentence as a bit stiff and formal when texting.

    Also, when using a period at the end of a text, can indicate that you may be ending the conversation.

    Another interesting use of punctuation involves the exclamation mark. We typically use that when we want to place extra emphasis on something. For example, “See you later!” can indicate that you are looking forward to seeing that person, whereas just writing “See you later” without the exclamation mark may mean that all is good or ok but no real excitement.

    Just remember that like anything else we do in excess, you can overdo it by using too many exclamation points. The emphasis can begin to lose its meaning so use them sparingly.

    What agreements are healthy to have when texting?

    You also want to make sure that you don’t have major arguments over texting. That should be part of each of your styles when you see if you’re on the same (or similar) texting compatibility scale. In addition, you may very well want to have some privacy agreements that the texts between the two of you remain between the two of you. It’s important for many to know that their private communications are just that – private.

    texting, dating, relationships, Dr. Gary Brown, Los Angeles therapist, individual therapy, relationship therapy, DrGaryLATherapist

    Remember, so much of our intended meaning can be lost when texting because we actually cannot hear the verbal tone of what is being when typed. Maybe you can get close to the meaning, but if you aren’t sure – pick up the phone.

    Is it ever a good idea to resolve major conflicts when texting?

    In general, the short answer is “no.” I always recommend that people do NOT try to resolve major conflicts via text. Texting has serious limitations.

    There is too much room for misunderstanding because only 10 percent of our communications have to do with the actual words that we use. The other 90 percent involves body language, tone of voice, and facial expressions. When we rely too much on texting, it’s just too easy to make things worse when you can’t hear their voice or look into their eyes.

    Plus, if this is an important conversation then it’s important to have it in real life. Having a conflict over text means your disagreements are very likely missing vitally important verbal and nonverbal cues that you would typically get being in another person’s presence. Over text, you may not be able to understand someone’s humor, sarcasm, hurt, aggression, affection, facial expression, etc.

    Bottom line: Make sure you are having important conversations in person, or at the very least, via a phone call/Facetime/Skype where you can hear each other’s voices.

    Hopefully, like so many dating singles and couples I have worked with, I hope these tips can help you navigate your relationship in the digital age. If you are ever looking for support in having a more fulfilling life (including with relationships of all sorts – self, family, work or romantic), please reach out to me for a complimentary 15-minute conversation to see if we’re a good fit.

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