Make no mistake about it, texting is definitely one of the most popular ways in which people keep in touch these days. However, not too many people understand the science behind texting in relationships and romance. And that’s exactly what this article is going to touch upon.
A study in the journal Computers in Human Behavior recently indicated that a perceived sense of similarity and chemistry in texting styles was linked to overall relationship satisfaction. Among 205 young adult Americans who were recruited to participate in the survey, more people confirmed that they felt more comfortable about the state of the relationship when they had partners who had symmetrical rhythms of texting.
Texting is so prevalent in today’s society regardless of the nature of the relationship between two people who are texting one another. According to recent statistics, almost 80 billion messages are sent via WhatsApp and SMS alone. There’s a certain intimacy that comes with texting even though it’s designed for people who are physically distant to be able to communicate.
And texting has definitely revolutionized the world of dating. People are now able to communicate and get closer to one another without necessarily having to be within proximity of each other. However, texting does bring about a lot of limitations such as being unable to read another person’s body language and tone of voice.
Scientists confirm that human beings are always sizing up one another when it comes to behavior and mannerisms – and texting actually serves as one of those primary forms of behavior when people are deliberating on early relationships. This is a sentiment that is echoed by Katherine Hertlein, a famed psychologist at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas. “Did they respond, did they not? How many texts? Did they check in?” says Hertlein, who is also a practicing couples’ therapist. “Once that dance has gotten started if you slow down to a pace where you’re comfortable, that change is going to be interpreted as a lack of interest,” she says in an Interview.
But if the dance actually speeds up, then that would arouse another series of questions as well: “Is this person all of a sudden interested,” she asks, or are they becoming a little too controlling. “You have to make sure that whatever cadence you start with is a cadence that you can be comfortable with and that feels authentic for you at the moment,” she advises.
One of the true beauties – and burdens – of technology is that it allows for what scientists call “social presence,” or a feeling of intimacy in spite of the distance. The key to forming this intimacy is immediacy, according to Hertlein. That’s why it’s so easy to become upset at a partner who doesn’t reply to a message in a prompt manner. “You’re supposed to be immediate, and now you have a device that makes you so,” she explains the reasoning of the hurt party. “Couples have problems when a partner doesn’t respond because you have now violated the contract in the relationship.”
There is a perfectly good reason as to why we might treat our text messages the same way we would treat our relationships in general. This belief is based on the attachment theory which was drawn out by Leora Trub from the Digital Media and Psychology Lab at Pace University.
The attachment theory posits that people learn how to love from the people who take care of them at an early age – in most cases, parents. If a mother is dismissive of the emotions of a child, it’s likely that that child would grow to become disconnected from their own feelings as an adult. And that is called avoidant attachment.
If a child is constantly in need of a mother’s care and presence, then that is called anxious attachment – meaning that they will always want to be within proximity of their mothers… and in the future, their potential partners as well.
Studies have shown that attachment theory can also apply to how we treat our phones and our text messages.
Based on a study in 2015, 70% of smartphone users believed that their phones offered them a sense of freedom while the other 30% believed that it felt more like a leash. And there is a direct correlation between how people see their cellphones and how they view their relationships. Studies have found that people who felt like they were being shackled by their phones were also being shackled by their relationships.
So, experts have postulated that perhaps people aren’t necessarily attached to their smartphones; but rather, they are attached to the people who are connected to them via their smartphones. And as attachment theory posits, that attachment isn’t necessarily going to be a healthy one. There is a lot to be said about the strength of a relationship with how two people communicate with one another through text.