Researchers Lori Schade and Jonathan Sandberg, along with BYU professors Roy Bean, Dean Busby and Sarah Coyne authored the study, Using Technology to Connect in Romantic Relationships: Effects on Attachment, Relationship Satisfaction, and Stability in Emerging Adults, to “identify significant associations among technology use and relationship variables in a population of emerging adults,” published earlier this week in the Journal of Couple and Relationship Therapy.
The team researched 276 young adults (ages 18-25) nationwide that completed an “extensive relationship assessment” to correlate texting habits and relationships. They discovered problems arise in committed relationships when one is constantly connected to the cell phone. Lori Schade, recent Ph. D. recipient from Brigham Young University, noticed the importance of technology in “relationship formation,” however there were notable differences between how the sexes perceived texting in a relationship.
Technology is more important to relationship formation than it was previously, and the way couples text is having an effect on the relationship as well.
Out of all of the participants surveyed, 38% in a serious relationship, 46% engaged and 16% married, most agreed that an expression of affection via text message enhances the relationship. Women perceived texts used to apologize, work out differences or make decisions as that of a relationship with lower quality, and men who exhibited frequent texting behavior were also associated with having a lower relationship quality, and considered to be unsatisfied or in an unstable relationship, a discovery Schade hasn’t found a reason for.
We’re wondering if this means men disconnect and replace in person conversations with more texting. Maybe, as they exit the relationship, they text more frequently because that’s a safer form of communication. We don’t know why, that is just a conjecture.
The researchers of the texting study found many of the surveyed couples used texting for “relationship maintenance,” but these conversations are better done in person says co-author Jonathan Sandberg.
Reaction to disappointment and reality testing occurs more quickly face to face. There is a narrowness with texting and you don’t get to see the breadth of a person that you need to see.
The bottom line is nothing replaces a heart-to-heart conducted in person, even if the relationship is over. Working on a relationship via text message removes the sincerity, but a simple “I love you” throughout the day can be beneficial. And on a personal note, keeping one's face buried in a cell phone while engaged in a conversation with another is just plain rude.
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