By Stacey Rose, LCSW, PhD
When was the last time you sent a text? Is your phone in your hand right now as you read this? For many of us, texting has become a major part of how we communicate. Who knew years ago that this would happen?? Maybe George Orwell did when he spoke in “1984” about “Big Brother watching us” or the creator of “The Jetsons” with futuristic living. But here we are texting to our kids, our friends, our co-workers, our bosses, our parents and our lovers.
What are the benefits of texting and how does it hurt our relationships?
The benefits of texting include being able to say something you might not say in person behind the ‘safety’ of the cell phone. Somehow this anonymity gives us courage to express thoughts and feelings we might not express otherwise. This can be dangerous! Choose wisely what you want to say and to whom you want to say it. Ask yourself before you hit the ‘send’ button if that is truly what you want to say at the time.
Another benefit of texting is the ability to speak quickly and efficiently without having to have a long conversation. Sometimes if we need a simple answer to a question, a text is more effective than a conversation we may not have time for. Texting allows us to multi-task, which again has pros and cons. We can text while we cook, watch a movie, are in a class, at a restaurant, or at a family gathering.
So what are the downsides to texting and how can it hurt your relationships? I have seen many couples in my office fight over who their spouse is texting and what is being said. Should you show your spouse your texts?? If you want an honest relationship, it is a good idea to have an open policy about your text messages. Too oftentimes I see people who hide their texts from their spouses and this can create problems. If you don’t want your spouse to see what you are saying, it is likely you shouldn’t be saying what you are saying. I have seen many couples where one person is having an affair and much of the contact with the other person is through texting. Many affairs are discovered in Verizon and AT&T stores when the suspicious spouse seeks out cell phone tricks to discover hidden information or the cell phone bills.
Just like anything in life, there are plusses and minuses to things. The plusses certainly help to enhance our lives and our relationships. For instance, if you don’t do this already, this may be the time to start- start flirting with your spouse/partner through texting. This will build the fun and excitement in your relationship.
The minuses, however, with texting can devastate and even help to end our relationships. This is not to say some of these relationships shouldn’t end; not all relationships are meant to last forever. But texting is not usually the main issue, instead it is simply part of a larger problem… often infidelity.
If you suspect your partner is using texting as a way to keep a secret from you, confront him or her about it. Secrets in relationships are like cancer, they can eat away at the relationship.
Just like with anything in life, everything in moderation. Use texting to make your life and your relationships more fun and easy. If you feel you or your spouse is using texting inappropriately, talk with him or her and nip it in the bud before it gets out of hand. Reach out for professional help if you and your partner are struggling on your own.
Happy Texting and Happy Relationships!