How texting jeopardizes relationships
In today’s day and age, with increased connectivity, we all, sadly, rely on our phones for communication rather than face to face interaction. Text messaging or “Whatsapping”, as it is colloquially called, is the main mode of communication that is used. This, more often than not, leads to increased episodes of misunderstandings and arguments, which, in turn, leads to an increase in one’s frustration.
Think about this: would a conversation, face-to-face, about the same subject matter that you had texted, lead to the same reaction? Probably not. A large percentage of face-to-face communication is nonverbal, such as facial cues, tone of voice and body language, which cannot be perceived when reading texts. Texting eliminates all of these very important cues, leading you to make inferences about the opposite party’s state of mind or the meaning of the text that are usually wide of the mark.
The first thing that anyone who uses texting as the main mode of communication needs to understand is that misunderstandings occur when texting. So how does one get out of this rut?
Here a few simple rules to follow when texting:
- DO NOT use texting as the main means of communication in a relationship. Use it to support it, to fix dates, timings, and to make plans. Keep it short and keep it simple.
- Know when to stop. The minute you realize before that there is a discord/conflict manifesting when texting, STOP. Ask politely if you can discuss the issue in person. Communicate to your partner that you feel that there is a misunderstanding. Even admit that you are not able to convey your true feelings on text and would rather meet and talk. This has an added advantage of giving you and your partner time to cool off.
- Don’t be defensive when texting. Defending your actions/words could be an indicator that your relationship is in trouble. It often is an indicator of mistrust, resulting in your partner being just as defensive leading to a deadlock and no way forward. Agree to disagree.
- Don’t play the blame game, especially on text. Taking responsibility for your own actions, rather than fobbing off the blame onto your partner helps solve the problem at hand. Admitting a mistake will calm things down to a great extent, giving you time to discuss the issue at length when you meet fave to face. This also builds trust with your partner .
- Avoid group interpretations of texts. Asking for your friends’ take on the meaning of the text received is a sure shot method of making things worse. The context of the text is often lost on others leading to wrong interpretations of the text. Your reactions, based on these biased interpretations often add fuel to fire. Trust your gut and reply to the texts based on your personal interactions with the opposite party and NOT on the basis of what others feel or say.
- Err on the side of humor. See the funny side of the situation, giving your partner the benefit of doubt before jumping to conclusions about what he/she means when texting. Being droll about a situation will help you deal with an issue faster. Then talk about what bothered you when you meet. Laugh about it. You will find a misunderstanding being sorted faster with minimal damage to the relationship.
- The silent treatment never works. Ignoring texts over a long period of time will just increase the discord. Fix a time and place to meet and inform your partner that you would rather not discuss this via texting. Remember do not let too much time pass before sorting any dispute. This large gap often leads to something small turning into a permanent dispute which is more difficult and sometimes impossible to resolve.
- Avoid using “emojis” that may be misinterpreted. Different emojis are often displayed differently across different operating systems. Ask a question if you feel that an inappropriate emoji is displayed.
The bottom line, meet, talk, get up close and personal to work out any issues. The original name is a great guideline for how to use messaging. SMS stands for short messaging service. Keep it short and simple to avoid messaging turning into a recipe for disaster for your relationship.
All the best!