Text messaging is a quick and convenient way to stay in touch. But it can actually seriously damage your relationships in six key ways.
Since the birth of the text message in 1992, the way we communicate with each other has changed beyond recognition. Conversations we once had over the phone are now often sent through text messaging or other messaging services. While this is obviously a super fast and convenient way to communicate with others, it can have some serious side effects.
These are the six ways text messaging might be damaging your relationships:
1. Frequent texting makes it hard for deep relationships to develop
While texting is a quick way to communicate information, it’s not so useful to share deep thoughts and develop meaningful relationships. The trouble is, we often think we are staying in touch with our loved ones because we text them every day, while forgetting that we haven’t had a meaningful conversation in weeks. Strong relationships need physical time. We need to look people in the eye, hear their voices, and give them hugs for bonds to stay strong.
It’s also impossible to tell how someone is doing from his or her text messages, too. They may sound bright and breezy even if they are not feeling so good. It’s also a little awkward to use this form of communication to reveal deeper issues and problems. If we meet up in person, those deep feelings come out more easily and we can connect more deeply.
2. It’s easy for a text message to be misunderstood.
It is oh so easy to misinterpret a text. This is because when we communicate, we rely on many non-verbal cues such as facial expressions and body language. Because text messaging doesn’t convey these well, our jokes may come across as insults and our humorous sarcasm as downright offensive.
Emoticons have been added to try to solve these problems, however, they will never really replace the nuances of physical human interaction. So, if you have something vital or tricky to say, best make a call or meet up in person instead. You could even go totally retro and send a handwritten letter or card.
3. Men and women use texting in different ways
In general, men tend to communicate for purposes of information, while women often communicate to build social bonds. Rather than spending hours on the phone, men tend to build bonds when sharing an activity with someone. These differences in men and women are made worse by some forms of communication including texting.
This can cause a problem in relationships because women like to share their thoughts by text, whereas men would rather spend time together in person. A woman may feel resentful that her text communications don’t result in the in-depth sharing of thoughts that she would like.
4. It’s harder to focus on one person
When you call someone or meet in person, you spend time talking to them and then say goodbye. With texting, there is rarely this kind of definite end to an interaction. This means that we often feel like we are in constant, but rather stilted conversation with others. This can interfere with our lives in many ways.
Firstly, we are often in limbo, waiting for a reply to some messages while thinking how to respond to others. Secondly, when we are with someone, part of our attention is often elsewhere; still thinking about another conversation we are having by text.
Thirdly, we never really get a chance to miss anyone when we are in constant communication. We can easily begin to take people for granted when they are in our lives 24 hours a day.
5. We are never really alone
Being available by text all the time means we never get any real alone time. Studies suggest alone time is essential to our personal development. Being alone allows us to be truly ourselves without distractions or the need to please others. This is virtually impossible if we are required to respond to a text at any minute of any day.
6. Family time is often interrupted
Our in-person relationships can often be damaged by our texting habits. If we are having a family dinner or meeting a friend for coffee and we receive a message, most of us can’t resist taking a look at it. This is, of course, rude to the person we are with. We make excuses such ‘I’m sorry I must quickly reply to this’. However, the other person can’t help but feel they are no longer our priority. At home, we can also be so involved in texting or other technologies that we fail to spend quality time with our loved ones.
Texting can benefit relationships by making is quick and easy to stay in touch. However, if we want to develop meaningful relationships and close bonds, relying on text messaging may do much more harm than good. While we can make the most of the benefits of texting, we would be wise to make sure we don’t rely on it as our main way to stay in touch.