The image of a person whose eyes are glued to his phone was a stereotype that once was assigned only to teens, but, as the millennium is neither nigh nor new to us, this stereotype has extended its perimeter to include almost everyone. You’ve got the young professional, possibly new to what has become termed as ‘the real world’, frantically taking phone calls and answering e-mails from new or potential employers. There are the businessmen and women, who rely on their phone to conduct business quickly because, more than a decade after the looming technological threat of Y2K, the problem of efficiency is one easily solved with a Blackberry or iPhone. And we can’t forget the parents with kids who, whether it’s because of sports activities or being away at college, rely on their phones for communication and, mostly, peace of mind.
That being said, the dependence on cell phones begs the question, ‘What role do cell phones play in your romantic relationships?’ Cell phones, primarily texting, seem to have taken over role that written letters once played. When you’re away on a business trip, it’s a convenient way to talk to your significant other on your own time during the day, without having to feel like you’re rushing her off the phone as you’re entering a meeting. If you need to send a small, short message, like “What time is dinner?” or “I’ll be home ten minutes late”, texting certainly has its benefits.
It should go without saying, though, that, aside from the instant ‘communication gratification’ gained from texting, there are certain times in a relationship when it’s inappropriate to do so. I surveyed some of my female followers on Twitter, and here were the top three responses of when one should not text.
It should go without saying that, if you want to talk about something serious, a text message isn’t the way to do it, but I can’t tell you how many people I know who have been caught in serious discussions over text. A friend of mine recently divorced, and, when we’d meet for lunch, we were barely able to have a conversation because she was consumed in a heated e-mail battle with her ex-husband.
The biggest dilemma that arises in having a serious conversation over text or e-mail is that things are easily misunderstood. After all is said and done, the conversation will last longer than it would have if you had met in person—and typically one of the parties involved will feel hurt or agitated. Nothing will be solved.
And, if you’re going to say something that you don’t want the world to see, don’t put it in writing. You’d better believe that the newly divorced friend I mentioned earlier BCC’d the e-mails to her friends, his friends,…and his mother. Yikes—it’s more trouble than it’s worth.
When you are apart for more than a few days.
Yes, I mentioned earlier that it is perfectly acceptable to send the love of your life a quick text as you enter the meeting, saying something like, “Hope you’re having a good day.” If you’re going to be apart for more a few days, however, text messages will not suffice. Rather than texting all day while you’re apart, wait until you settle back into your hotel room and give her a call. Chances are, you both will have more to say over the phone than can fit on the minute screen of your phone, and I think you’ll be surprised at how nice it will be to hear her voice.
If you wouldn’t say it in ‘real life’.
With the mask that technology and social networks provide, we are able to present ourselves in a way that may not be entirely true. (For instance, I’m certainly funnier over text because it gives me time to think of witty responses—embarrassing.) If you’re in a relationship, though, you should drop the masks and the shields and be yourself.
If you want to tell your wife or girlfriend “I’m sorry” after a fight but are too stubborn to do so in person, do not send a text. An in-person apology or “I love you” goes further than a few voiceless words on a phone screen.
When I asked about this topic on Twitter, the girls went crazy, wanting to let men know how to text (as if we don’t tell you what to do enough!). Here are a few of my favorite responses:
- samhoff : “Things can get misinterpreted really easily, but on the other hand, it’s sweet to get an unexpected text message ‘just because’.”
- bondbecky: “No one gets sarcasm in a text!”
- nikkdagot: “Texts can help because it’s nice when your man sends you a quick text saying they miss you. Or even just ‘good morning’” and “Sometimes you can misunderstand each other and get upset. Also, people say things over text that they wouldn’t say face to face.”
By Hayley Lyons