One of our readers came to us with a question about texting and the psychological impacts it’s been having on their relationship. Even though the couple texted all the time, the relationship felt like much less than it was when they started it. They couldn’t figure out what was going on. They were communicating just as much, but it turns out they were also communicating with other people more too: valuable couple time had turned into sitting-beside-each-other-texting-other-people time. How did that happen?!
Texting is a double edged sword. While it helps you stay in instant touch with the people you love, it also distracts from valuable face-to-face time with them. We chose to do an article on the psychological impacts of texting because of problems like these. Read on to learn about the pitfalls of texting, and the ways it can psychologically hurt you and your relationships.
1. Non-verbal? Nonsense!
Taking out body language cues, facial expressions, and breath can have negative impacts on conversation. Because the basis of texting is text, it’s almost impossible to send subtext and non-verbal cues to your partner. This can harm situations that might already be tricky, like arguments. Our advice is to pick up the phone and talk to each other– Or better yet, meet for coffee and talk about what’s going on.
2. Power Dynamic Struggles
We’ve all been there: someone we like has texted us, and we aren’t sure if we should reply right away, wait a few hours, or not reply at all. There’s an unspoken power dynamic in texting, and it can play mind games with your relationship. Instead of using replies to exert power, let yourself be honest with each other and reply whenever you want.
3. IMing: Impatient Messaging
When you’re texting instead of talking a conversation can stretch out for hours… Sometimes even days! However, it’s also the one form of communication which increases impatience. For as long as you’re waiting for a reply, you’re thinking about the reply. And usually wondering why they haven’t replied! This causes overthinking and stress, which leads to impatience and frustration.
4. Social Etiquette
… Goes out the window.
All of a sudden it seems appropriate to send someone a message at 2 am, interrupt their board meeting, or get for someone’s attention when they’re on a date. Texting breaks down previously set social conventions; you wouldn’t walk into someone’s board meeting and start talking to them about going for dinner! We do that with texting though, and it can be awfully insulting to the people you’re with.
5. You’ll Do Everything @ 80%
If you find yourself eager to text at work or during class, you’re sending a message that you’re not fully committed to the task at hand. This can put a strain on your professional and scholastic relationships, which are quick to write off Tommy Texters as disengaged, uninterested, and lazy.
6. LOL vs. Laughing out loud
While text messages have developed their own language over the years, there’s something unsatisfying about reading “lol” when you should be hearing the roaring laughter of your partner. While text messages are great for quick communication, they lose the charm and individuality of the person you’re with. If you and your bae spend too much time texting (and not enough time together), you might start to forget the little things about them that make them special.
7. Sore thumbs
Maybe this doesn’t have a direct impact on your relationship, but it does make you awfully unhappy. Too much texting can lead to sore thumb joints and tired hands. Take a break and stretch out your hands if you want to keep contacting people.
8. AND sore necks!
Another issue people find themselves afflicted with is a sore neck. While this also doesn’t directly affect your relationship, it can result in irritability. And an irritable partner isn’t a fun partner. Take a break from bent-over texting and instead swap neck massages with your significant other… Everyone will be in a good mood then.
9. Sleep time or Screen time?
Ideally bedtime should be the one part in the day where you’re not expected to look at your phone. No one can expect you to answer them after 10 or 11 o’clock! Most people are in bed by then. Unfortunately, bedtime has started to turn into screen time for a lot of people. While we love when you scroll through Psych2go, it can keep you up for much longer than healthy. A tired person doesn’t make for a productive person, and can have a negative impact on your relationship. Put the phone down at least 15 minutes before you’re heading to bed, and you’ll find you not only get to sleep faster, but you won’t wake up as tired.
This is both advice and a hazard. If you don’t disconnect from technology sometimes, you might start to disconnect from the people around you. By becoming too focused and dependent on texting, cell phones, and media to keep us entertained, we’re quickly losing the ability to be content without them. Let yourself turn your phone off the next time you’re on a date with your significant other, and you’ll find that the enjoyment goes up tenfold.