It’s safe to say technology has changed things. More old-fashioned individuals like to argue that texting, the internet, and people being glued to their phones make it harder to connect with other people. This of course comes from the generation that lacked emotional intimacy because they believed men shouldn’t talk about their feelings, but that is another blog post for another time. Arguing if technology is good or bad for relationships is a moot point. Technology isn’t going anywhere, and society has to figure out how it impacts their relationships for the good and the bad.
The definition of healthy relationships is constantly evolving and will continue to do so. The advancements in technology and human rights throughout history have continually changed how we relate to one another. For example, some husbands found it easy to transition into helping out more around the house and with the kids, and recognize their marriage was an equal partnership, while others held firm to the belief that women should be entirely responsible for the household and the children. Nowadays people tend to point and blame technology, believing that people being glued to their phones and texting all the time is messing with their social life and ruining their dating life. Is technology a great evil that will make humanity inept at developing healthy, loving and lasting relationships? (its no if you were wondering). Does technology negatively affect some relationships? Of course it does. Texting (I’m including facebook, tweeting, e-mail, and other forms of messaging) is great for connecting with your partner, setting up dates, reminding them to pick something up at the store, and for sending adorable pictures of cats/puppies. However it can also make it easier for people to say hurtful things, avoid conflict, prolong arguments, miss sarcasm, and misunderstand tone. 140 characters are not enough, and If technology is hurting the way you communicate with your partner, here are four things to try and avoid.
1: Don’t text when you are mad
People generally don’t make the best decisions when they are angry. Often it leads to people saying things they don’t mean and soon regret. Years ago when someone was removed from the situation or away from the person who irritated them they had a natural time to cool off, process their feelings, and find more productive ways of articulating their feelings. Whether or not this happened a lot is beyond me, but the option was there. Now people sit with the temptation to reach into their pocket or purse and rain down fire and brimstone. If this has happened to you, chances are you felt good for a few moments until you realized what you did or they responded. Also chances are you are going to face that temptation again. You’re going to think sending that text is a good idea. It’s not. Don’t send that text. Today’s world revolves around instant gratification and the desire to know everything right away, which is great for news and cat videos but can be terrible for relationships. You see, when you are angry you start to experience emotional flooding which causes your brain to act in its most primitive way, which does not bode well for reason, logic, or understanding. So if your goal is to make things worse, then by all means text away, but if you want to prevent any further damage, and work on improving the relationship, then it would be best to just put your phone down and slowly walk away.
2: Don’t text to avoid being vulnerable
Some people resort to texting because they are afraid of being emotionally vulnerable. It’s easier to text your feelings then to actually express them. It’s great for couples to send pick me ups and “No I love you more” messages back and forth. However if your relationship relies on text to tell your partner how you feel because you are uncomfortable saying it, then you might want to reevaluate that. Being vulnerable strengthens relationships. Putting yourself out there tells your partner that you trust them, and gives them the opportunity to be reassuring which builds a stronger connection. It’s great to read nice messages, but it can be even better to hear them in person, to be able to see how their body language, their eyes, and even the sound of their voice lines up with their words.
3: Don’t fight over text
Believe it or not, this is not common knowledge. Or if it is then fighting over text is treated like pulling up to McDonalds, I know I shouldn’t do this… but I’m going to anyway. When people fight over text their intention is usually pure because they are trying to avoid conflict at home. Unfortunately texting to avoid conflict at home is like arguing politics over the internet to change someone’s mind; it is not going to happen. Arguments over text can also spiral out of control because it is easy to miss sarcasm and tone, which only creates more tension. If you find yourself in an argument via your phone it is perfectly okay to call for a time out or a break to cool down. Again this might fly in the face of instant gratification, but for the sake of your relationship give it thirty minutes and use that time to try to approach the situation from your partner’s perspective so you can come at it from a place of understanding instead of an angry texting troll monster.
4: Don’t apologize
Don’t get me wrong, recognizing when you are wrong and apologizing in any form is great. However if you find yourself texting apologies because you don’t want to say them in person then you might have something you need to work on. If that is the case you need to take the advice you would give to a small child when she or he starts pointing at something on the counter while making whimpering sounds; use your words. Apologizing is great but it has more meaning and power when you do it in person. The sound of your voice, your eye contact and body language will all be lost in a text, and without those your apology could come off as insincere. It also can’t hurt to apologize twice, so if you are stuck on apologizing over text try following it up with an apology in person.
Communication is a major part in any relationship. Hopefully technology is making that easier for you and bringing more emotional fulfillment into your relationship. If not I hope these 4 tips give you some ideas on how to improve your communication within your relationships.