Study: Couples Who Text Together Don't Stay Together

Work it out, but do it face to face, instead of via SMS.

In this world, there are researchers who study the societal effects of text messages. Two of these researchers, Lori Schade and Jonathan Sandberg of Brigham Young University, just released a new study claiming that too much texting can disconnect couples. Their research, published behind a paywall in the Journal of Couple and Relationship Therapy, links too much texting to the stripping of nuance from a relationship.

"Reaction to disappointment and reality testing occurs more quickly face to face," Sandberg said in a statement. "There is a narrowness with texting and you don't get to see the breadth of a person that you need to see." The pair surveyed 276 young adults around the country; 38% were in a serious relationship, 46% engaged, and 16% were married. One big (and, yes, obvious) takeaway from the study is that text messages are a standard way of communicating for most couples: 82% traded texts multiple times per day.

The researchers also found that, for women, using text messages to apologize, work out differences, or make decisions was associated with a lower-quality rating for their relationship. By contrast, too much texting by men was associated with a lower-quality rating in relationships.

Interestingly, Brigham Young has become a hotbed of sorts for research studies involving technology and personal life: Other recent work from the university includes papers on how texting encourages lying and constant Instagramming of food ruins appetites.

[Image: Wikimedia user Ed Yourdon]

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32 Comments

  • John

    "Reaction to disappointment and reality testing occurs more quickly face to face," Sandberg said in a statement. "There is a narrowness with texting and you don't get to see the breadth of a person that you need to see." The pair surveyed 276 young adults around the country; 38% were in a serious relationship, 46% engaged, and 16% were married. One big (and, yes, obvious) takeaway from the study is that text messages are a standard way of communicating for most couples: 82% traded texts multiple times per day.

  • Guest

    Interesting article. I do prefer face to face conversations and phone calls over texting and social media any day, though to each their own. Not going to judge anyone....for me at the best of times I can't stand texting. If someone has to text me consistently then I will likely call back.

  • John

    It's definitely a convenient tool for work or quick questions, but other than try to remember your mobile device is actually a phone for calls.

  • alphaone50

    I guess by being old school, I enjoy the face to face conversations whether over the phone or in person. To me texting has always been and always will be inpersonal and anyone can take a text the wrong way. I don't like texting at the best of times. If it gets to be more than a few texts I'll simply call the person. Not everybody has to like texting. I certainly don't. Though to each their own. Not here to judge. Just to offer my own opinion of the subject.

  • nlkn

    My SO and I text a lot and rarely even have phone conversations (because neither of us really likes talking over the phone). We don't use Facebook. This hasn't caused any problems at all for us. Texting is just very convenient for both parties when you're separated by physical distance. Phone calls can be disruptive, email is too slow and impersonal, Facebook is too much about crafting a projected persona; texting sits somewhere in the middle of it all, certainly not perfect, but it tends to get the job done a bit better than other options for us.

    Granted, one success story doesn't mean much, but the results of this study certainly haven't applied to me specifically.

  • CannabisStrains

    Maybe its more about general communication: if you're looking to text to resolve disputes and misunderstandings - fail! Keep text conversations short and sweet: if they go longer than 10 messages per side - it's time for a phone call :)

  • John

    There's no feeling behind an LOL or haha - just text and it's super easy.. Not to mention the time gaps between messages that drive me insane. This doesn't even touch on being in a group when everyone is on their phone now, texting through a meal, or tranced as they 'like' their very distant acquaintance's photos on instagram/FB.

  • jbkly

    "for women, using text messages to apologize, work out differences, or make decisions was associated with a lower-quality rating for their relationship. By contrast, too much texting by men was associated with a lower-quality rating in relationships"

    There's a typo there, right? Where's the contrast?

  • BarbChamberlain

    I had to read it twice to be sure I got it--for women, it's content-based, for men, it's quantity.

    since my husband and i text multiple times a day to say I love you, I'm not going to worry about the quantity.

  • Debauche

    If you need to text "I love you" to your spouse several times a day, you both have a PROBLEM. You need to find out why you both feel so insecure in your relationship. If you don't "KNOW" your spouse loves you, WHY ARE YOU MARRIED? Texting "Hi, thinking about you" says a lot more.