With the advent of smart phones, we have our partner at our fingertips any time of the day or night. Small matters of course like coordinating plans, schedules, a steamy sext or a quick message to warm the heart, are all great ways to use texting to enhance your relationship. The problem is, texting has become so ubiquitous for couples and everyone else that we start to think we can share anything in this medium. But the fact is you can’t, not if you want the outcome to be positive. In fact, there are certain things that should not be discussed via text, for the health of the relationship. The reason, it can be so easy to misinterpret what is being said. Used sparingly and in the right situations, texting can help. Utilized in an improper manner, it can exacerbate problems and strain the relationship. Here are some things you shouldn’t text about. If you and your partner have recently gotten into an argument and you thought of a great fact, some supporting evidence, or just something you should have said, do not text it to them. Texting your side of an argument to your partner can feel right at the time. They can’t interrupt you. They have to listen to you. But this is a poor decision for a whole host of reasons.
It could be viewed as cowardly, texting rather than telling them face-to-face. Chances are they aren’t going to let things go, either. Now, instead of snuffing out the argument, you are fanning the flames. The next time you see one another, a conflagration is likely to occur. In this situation, talking about a fight via text is forcing your partner to take your words. So they either have to respond or give you dead silence. Either way, no one is satisfied and the fight gets worse. So what is a better strategy? Even if you just want to let them have it, think about the long-term. What strategies can you employ to make both of you satisfied with the outcome? If there is none, time to negotiate. But in the interim, perhaps take this time to reflect more passively, more objectively on the situation. Once you are calm, mull over the facts. What is your partner’s view of things, as you understand them? Take a look carefully at their point of view. Are you aware of everything that is going on? What other factors may be influencing their perspective? If you do not understand this point of view, maybe now is the time to organize a few questions to ask them, in a way that will lead to information rather than defensiveness. How we conduct arguments is important, probably one of the most important things, as it separates those couples who will make it, from those who won’t. Learn to fight respectfully. Doing so in the presence of one another shows more respect. And down-time before face-time could be just the thing you need, to gain perspective and get your thoughts in order.
If you know there is an issue that is going to set your partner off, do not text them about it. Nobody likes to be the bearer of bad news, particularly if it is something that rubs their lover the wrong way. You will feel stressed in how to address it, and trepidation on how they might respond. Texting takes that awkwardness out of it for you, but rubs salt in the wound for them. Texting in this case sends a message that you’re more concerned about getting the message across than the impact it has on your partner. In other words, you care more about getting it over with than about their feelings receiving this bad news. All difficult news should be delivered in person. Try to think about their position, the type of person they are, and how you would feel receiving such news. Some people just want you to be there for them. You will know how to respond in the moment. Trust your instincts. But do a little homework, too. Compose what you are going to say. You can even let a friend who knows them well hear how you are going to deliver the news, and see if they can offer some tips. Finally, don’t use texting as a means for trying to get closer to your partner. Nothing beats the sound of someone’s voice, or looking into their eyes the first time they say, “I love you.” A text message will never deliver the same impact. You can affirm feelings that are already established. But if those feelings aren’t there, and the emotional closeness you seek hasn’t been established, texting is not the way forward. A relationship can only be truly close when it is conducted, for the most part, face-to-face. For those who wish reading a relationship was as easy as reading a text, read Wired for Love: How Understanding Your Partner’s Brain and Attachment Style Can Help You Defuse Conflict and Build a Secure Relationship by Stan Tatkin, Psy.D. MFT.