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Text Messages - What your partner's text messages reveal about your relationship

What your partner's text messages reveal about your relationship

SMS and Whatsapp messages have now become the medium of partnership. How the type and number affects the state of a relationship - and can lead to misunderstandings

How many text messages did you receive from your partner today? Twenty? Five? Or none at all? Then this could possibly be an indication of the state of your relationship. Depending on whether he reminds of the shopping to be done or brings up the gossip from last night again or describes his love for you in the most romantic words.

SMS and Whatsapp messages have long become the medium of partnership. 80 percent of all couples write several messages a day. Because more and more people have different work processes and locations, short messages are an ideal means of communication, says Daniel Süss, professor of media psychology at the Zurich University of Applied Sciences.

The medium also has other advantages: Nobody can intervene. You can tell everything that is going through your head at any time, without having to pay attention to whether your partner is in an important meeting or is out in the car. And: a short message on the cell phone or smartphone is more intimate than an email or Facebook.

It is astonishing, therefore, that no one has yet investigated the medium of short messages in terms of the relationship. Lori Schade and Jonathan Sandberg, both couple and family therapists at Brigham Young University in Utah, have now examined the relationship between text messaging and partner satisfaction.

To this end, they asked almost 300 young married or firmly in love adults about the role of SMS in their relationship. And the result was astonishing, but also expected and sometimes contradicting things. For example: If women write a lot of SMS in a relationship, this is obviously a sign of great relationship satisfaction for them. On the other hand, both women and men are more dissatisfied with their relationship the more text messages the man writes.

According to the researchers, it is less about the content of the news or its quality than about the fact that men write more text messages the more inexorably a relationship draws to a close. In other words, they use the short messages to gradually pull themselves out of the relationship. "Especially in conflict situations, women and men have different communication styles," says Daniel Süss. "Men have a tendency to withdraw into a more distant form of communication, and therefore choose SMS more in order to be able to take themselves out of the field of fire."

Some form of control

This different handling of SMS also reflects the experiences of couples therapist Anja Grunert from Zurich. “Communication is usually a woman's field. Women are much more likely to communicate. Men are more reserved. " If a man suddenly writes frequently, it irritates. "It's like when a man suddenly needs an hour in the bathroom in the morning."

Incidentally, this finding was also the starting point for Lori Schade to even carry out such a study. Her clients kept showing up in her practice with their cell phones waving around: "They come in and first show the hurtful SMS they received from their partner." The therapist found that hurtful text messages often carry more emotional meaning than mean things that someone simply says to you in the face. Because the message is there - and it stays there.

“Text messages can be stumbling blocks for many interpretations because there are often different expectations behind them,” says relationship coach Anja Grunert. Not all of them check their cell phones regularly and immediately answer an SMS message. That can lead to initial misunderstandings. It's also a form of control when you want to know where the other is. "It's a creeping poison in a relationship."

Daniel Süss also knows why: "With short messages you have a channel reduction, so only text and no face and no voice." Therefore, in a conflict-ridden relationship, for example, interpret immediately as soon as the message is shorter or different in content than expected or is not answered immediately. In addition, an SMS is asynchronous, unlike a call that runs synchronously - i.e. simultaneously: "You place a message and you have to wait."

Smartphone as a rival

As valuable as SMS can be as a contact tool in a relationship, it gets tricky when things don't go smoothly. Therefore, according to Schade, the following principle applies: "If you have nothing nice to say to yourself, you shouldn't send an SMS at all." Media psychologist Daniel Süss: "SMS are useful to arrange something with each other." When the relationship is in good shape, text messages can also be a positive relationship strengthening element. "You can give a signal: I am thinking of you."

So if you want to have a happy relationship, you should better give your smartphone or cell phone away and discuss difficult topics personally. This has another advantage, because another representative survey recently showed that 40 percent of under 30-year-olds are jealous of how much time their partner spends on their smartphones. The device can therefore not only trigger conflicts, but also become a rival in relationships. Unless, of course, the person uses it for messages that include expressions of love and kind words. By the way, they are well received by both sexes. And not even the person for whom the message is intended is more satisfied, but rather the person who sent it.