Texting is an important part of most peoples lives. In Tennis anyone? Keeping the communication ball in play, I give examples of how texting can smooth the way to clear communication as a couple. You can also deal with practical details quickly. Even messages of love and affection via text can keep you connected. But there are definitely subjects to avoid texting in your relationship.
Texting does not take the place of speaking in person. Voice and facial expressions, as well as body language, often convey more than the meaning of the words themselves. It is difficult to convey emotional subtly in texts – even with emoticons!
Points to remember when texting
A text can be forward to others, for whom it was not intended. When seen by someone other than the intended, (either intentionally or inadvertently) the message will be out of context and can easily be misinterpreted.
Texts are used as evidence in courts of law, so contentious subjects are best kept out of texts. Affairs are often discovered via a text-trail.
Do you expect your texts to be open for inspection by your partner? Would you feel comfortable about your partner seeing yours? Have you discussed this aspect of privacy with your partner, and come up with an agreement?
Don’t text when you are drunk! You might not even remember what you wrote, and you might not like it, either! And explanations to your partner are unlikely to go down well. Read “We just had a few drinks and..”
And don’t text while driving. You’ve heard this before, and it is just too dangerous.
Here are some specific things to avoid when texting:
Complaints. “Late. Again!” or “Did you forget to pick up the stuff for dinner – as usual?” Because he can’t hear your voice, he has no idea how big a deal this is to you. Does it warrant a breakup? Are you just mildly annoyed? Or joking!?
Trading insults. Swearing, sarcasm and insults do not smooth the way at any time but are particularly likely to backfire in a text. Do you really want to be told “U R a f…ing c?” Or to say to your beloved, “You are such a loser!” This is cyberbullying, and the wounds go deep in any relationship, but especially with your intimate partner. “I knew I could count on you to forget,” or “Typical woman.” Insults, like complaints, aren’t any more fun to read than they are to hear. Also, you might regret what you said later when you’ve had more time to think about it. Be your most polite self in texts!
Explanations, apologies, denials, excuses and justifications. These are complex communications that do not go down well in a text – if ever! “I’m late because…….” “I know I said I wouldn’t do that again but……..” You won’t do yourself any favours by writing instead of talking. Instead, try, “I owe you an apology. Can we talk about it tonight?” Then take all the time you need to say it in person. And remember that denials, excuses and justifications are not effective forms of communication at any time, in person or in texts.
Questions about the other person’s behaviour. “Why didn’t you text me back yesterday?” or “R u mad at me?” Before jumping to a negative conclusion, give your partner a chance to provide the context of her behaviour. Meet her face to face, or a least voice to voice, before asking the question. And remember it’s always better to use “I” statements, such as “When I didn’t receive a text from you yesterday I was disappointed”, which is not an accusation about your partner, but rather a revelation about yourself.
Bombshells. Keep the big revelations for in-person conversations. Most partners need some preparation to adjust to big news. For example, “I want to break up with you”, “I think you are having an affair”, or “I think we should have an open marriage,” or “They found a lump.” Even positive big news like, “I’m pregnant” is best dropped in person. You want to savour the good news together! Sometimes you might be tempted to avoid a face to face conversation on a big topic because it is exactly that – BIG.
Heavy topics. Face to face is the best way to discuss complex and difficult topics such as child custody issues, tax audits and health problems. These issues demand a considered context so you can bring your best self to the discussion – the right time and place. Your partner deserves such consideration.
Anything that is shocking, frightening or threatening to your partner. Absolutely avoid any statements which intimidate or are designed to make your partner afraid ! Not only in texts but at all times. This might actually be quite subtle, such as “You’d better watch out!”. Read, “Domestic violence is not only physical”.
Private information. Credit card numbers, pin numbers, naked photos – anything you don’t want to see posted all over the Internet. While you might be comfortable about your partner having this information, hackers are everywhere and could gain access to your messages without your knowledge or permission.
Secrets. If something is a secret, don’t text it. If something is private, wait to discuss it in person. As above, assume your message could end up in front of the wrong pair of eyes. Keeping secrets is part of building trust. See Brene Brown and “The anatomy of trust”