Be a Sexual Person, Not a Textual Person: 6 Rules for a Healthy Texting Relationship
If your partner only likes to communicate via texting, recognize that this is a bad habit, even addictive, and also a way to control you. You might prefer texts too, just because they feel safer. A text doesn’t come with facial expressions (emoticons or emojis or whatever we call them now don’t count). It doesn’t come with an intonation, and there are many ways to subtly manipulate a person just by the way you do or do not answer a text, or how long you take to answer a text.
The problem with texts is that they don’t give you a real sense of the other person. They delay and even destroy real intimacy. When a relationship is new, you have the opportunity to establish good habits and lay down the ground rules, and texting is one very common area where this will be necessary since people communicate this way so often now.
Be a sexual person, but don’t be a textual person. Here are my simple rules for a healthy textual relationship:
1. At the beginning of a relationship, if you give someone your number, just say something simple, like “Give me a call.” If you get a text, you could text back briefly a few times but don’t let it go too far. Text back: “Why don’t you give me a call?” This sets a precedent right up front. If it continues, shut it down. Start ignoring the texts completely. Once, a guy who was interested in me wanted to text all the time. When I told him I wasn’t a “texting person” and wanted to speak to him on the phone, he fell off the grid. I could have wasted six months sending him texts and hoping it would turn into something more. I’m glad I shut it down early. At the beginning of a more recent relationship, I admitted I wasn’t a great texter. I did that in the beginning because, later, I knew I could fall back on that if he started texting me too much. He could always say, “You’re not really great at this texting thing,” and I could say, “I told you!”
2. Once you’ve received a phone call, only use texting for the exchange of brief information, like confirming details or locations. “See you at 8, I drive a Volvo,” or “In the corner booth wearing the blue shirt.”
3. Once you’ve been out on an actual date, texting is okay for brief flirtation or anticipation. “Had a great time.” “You looked so sexy last night.” “Really looking forward to tonight!” But be sure the anchor of your communication remains in-person or phone conversations. Don’t get sucked into an hours-long textual exchange, as romantic as that may seem to you. Keep it brief. Save the intimate exchanges and playful banter for in person or at least on the telephone, where you can hear each other’s voices.
4. Once you are in a long-term relationship, you don’t have to be quite so careful, unless you start to get lazy and sloppy and you stop connecting in person. If you share a life together, especially if you live together, texting does become convenient. “Can you pick up something for dinner?” “This meeting is so boring! Thinking of you.” “I have a surprise for you tonight… ;-).” The goal is to eventually have more but briefer texts and fewer but longer phone calls. It’s texting with a side of phone. This is also convenient when either or both of you are at work. Unlike a phone call, a text can be read when it’s convenient.
5. Never, ever, ever have emotional conversations, arguments, or important discussions by text. The potential for misunderstanding is just too great. Don’t be one of those people who never looks up from her phone. Connect with real people. It feels so much better.
6. Cheaters use text. Just know that. His wife could be in the room while he’s texting you.
This is an excerpt from I Suck at Relationships So You Don’t Have To: 10 Rules for Not Screwing Up Your Happily Ever After by Bethenny Frankel, available on Amazon.com.