Brigham Young University researchers Lori Schade and Jonathan Sandberg studied 276 young adults around the country and found that being constantly connected through technology can create some disconnects in committed relationships.
The study participants weren’t just casually dating – 38 percent said they were in a serious relationship, 46 percent were engaged and 16 percent were married. Each participant completed an extensive relationship assessment that included questions about their use of technology in the relationship.
Many of the couples used texting for stuff scholars call “relationship maintenance,” or the kind of conversations that help couples get on the same page. Ordinarily having these conversations is a good thing, but texting can get in the way and makes things worse.
“Reaction to disappointment and reality testing occurs more quickly face to face,” Sandberg said. “There is a narrowness with texting and you don’t get to see the breadth of a person that you need to see.”
For men, more texting doesn’t necessarily mean a better relationship. And they don’t just get tired of receiving texts; their relationship satisfaction is also lower when they send a lot of texts themselves.
“We’re wondering if this means men disconnect and replace in-person conversations with more texting,” Schade said. “Maybe as they exit the relationship, they text more frequently because that’s a safer form of communication. We don’t know why, that is just a conjecture.”
The good news is that saying something sweet in a text works universally for men and women. In fact, sending a loving text was even more strongly related to relationship satisfaction than receiving one.
The bottom line is that if you don’t have something nice to text, better not text at all.
BYU professors Roy Bean, Dean Busby and Sarah Coyne co-authored the study with Schade and Sandberg: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/15332691.2013.836051#.Um7n0fmsh8E
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