This has probably happened to you. Your new girlfriend, or even your partner who you have been with for a while, texts you something fairly cryptic, and it triggers you, and then you fire right back, and then she gets triggered, and then before you know it, you’re in a full fledged argument… on your phones.
Texting is an every day thing. We text our friends to arrange a dinner out. We text our parents or children. We text work colleagues. We text… and text…
But in the context of a relationship, especially one with ongoing unresolved conflict, having any kind of substantive conversation over text is, as a client said to me, and as I’ve said many times, a recipe for disaster.
Why? First off, texts are limited to 140 characters. Yes, I know, people send multiple texts, but that limitation is baked in our brain. So we take short cuts in our language. The statement, “Oh, she’ll know what I mean” is a fantasy. She might know what you mean, but she might not – and because of the limitations of texting, she might get triggered even if what you said seemed innocuous to you.
Of course, it’s her job (and your job) to handle your triggers, and do SCORE. But believe me, it would make your lives a lot easier if you made this commitment: Don’t have any substantive conversations (besides making arrangements, wishing your loved one well, or other very minor stuff) via text. Email is slightly better, because we don’t tend to take shortcuts with our language, but really, it’s important to have the vast majority of your substantive conversations via voice or in person.
And then there is what I’ll call “Texting While Dating.” We have heard a lot of stories of women who are newly dating, and most (or sometimes even all) of the interactions are via text. This is a terrible way to learn about someone. You can’t assess whether this new person in your life has emotional and communication skills, and doesn’t have red flags, if you don’t actually physically spend time with her in person. And if you’re dating long distance, and you can’t spend a lot of time in the same physical location, at least use video calling so you can see and hear each other. And if she only wants to text, and doesn’t want to meet or even video call, run, don’t walk, away from her – she doesn’t really want to get to know you.
Texting is, on balance, a great thing. But be careful out there.