Don’t use digital communication as a substitution for real dates.
Yes, texting is easy. In just a few seconds, you can grab your phone, type a message and go on with your day. Texting, and your cell phone in general, also serve as a convenient distraction when you’re bored or in silence. People check their phones for messages when they’re in line at a store, during any down time at home, and even when they are with a loved one who they should be paying attention to. If you’re like many people, your phone probably goes everywhere with you! Texting in relationships can become a problem — many couples sit in bed with their phones at night, spending time browsing the Internet or texting friends instead of snuggling up with their partner. Even though this mode of communication is very easy, it shouldn’t replace other forms of communication altogether! Before you let your texting and mobile phone habit ruin your dating life or relationship, consider the following five things.
1. Don’t text during date night.
If you’re texting during a date, whether it’s the first date or five years into marriage, you’re telling the other person that they’re not special enough for you to devote all of your attention to them. Don’t make your date feel inferior to your cell phone – turn it off on date night! If you must, check it only briefly for important messages, but don’t carry on long text or phone conversations when there’s someone in front of you who desires your attention! Your date should have to text you from across the table just to get a response from you. If you spend too much time texting on a date, you will probably frustrate your partner, and might even ruin the possibility of a next date.
2. Never underestimate face-to-face time.
A lot of communication includes body language and tone of voice. If you are only texting or emailing your significant other, you might misunderstand the message or miss important cues. Many teenagers, and even adults, are using texting and social media as a way to form new relationships. While it’s OK to use technology as a part of your communication, don’t underestimate the benefits of actually sitting with someone in person!
3. Don’t angry text.
It’s tempting to pick up a phone and send a text when you’ve had a bad day or are stewing about something. Be careful not to send a resentful or angry text to someone you’re dating or your spouse – you might regret it later, and your anger can easily seem worse in a pithy text than it would if you had a chance to explain yourself in person. Instead, use texting to set up a time to talk later, or make yourself take a time out before you text anything.
4. Create rules.
Once you’re dating someone for a period of time, you should set rules for how you’ll handle texting time. For instance, you might have a “no cell phones after 9pm” policy, so you always have a few hours in the evening where you are really paying attention to each other. Or, if your partner doesn’t want to receive texts while they’re at work, respect that. If you set these boundaries, you won’t end up always neglecting other forms of communication because all you’re doing is texting.
5. Avoid making assumptions.
Even if you make up rules about texting, because mobile communication is so common you will surely text your loved ones at least some of the time. Avoid reading into a text too much – keep in mind that with such a limited amount of characters, you probably aren’t getting the full picture of the other person’s thoughts with the text. Before you assume something, pick up the phone and ask the person what they meant, or talk to them in person. Don’t let a texting misunderstanding get blown out of proportion when it could be cleared up with a full conversation!
Texting and emailing are so common that you probably can’t avoid them, but that doesn’t mean they have to take over your life! Don’t let other forms of communication fall to the wayside or get ignored altogether. The omnipresence of technology shouldn’t mean that you never take the time to look into someone’s eyes, acknowledge him or her, and have a real heart to heart conversation.
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About Jennine Estes, MFT
Think of me as your relationship consultant, I'm your neutral third party that can help you untangle the emotions and help you figure out what's really going on. I am a Marriage and Family Therapist in San Diego, CA. Certified in Emotionally Focused Therapy for Couples. Supervisor. I write relationship and self growth advice for my column Relationships in the Raw. Creator of #BeingLOVEDIs campaign. MFC#47653