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How Texting Might Be Hurting Your Relationship

November 9, 2013
ABC News Radio

Texting while driving can be hazardous to your health, and new research shows it can also have a negative impact on a couple’s relationship.

Brigham Young University researchers studied 276 young adults around the country who were either in a serious relationship, engaged or married. They found that being constantly connected through technology can create some disconnects in committed relationships.

About 82 percent of the couples traded text messages with their partner multiple times a day. Many of those texts were for the types of conversations that scholars call “relationship maintenance” -- chats that help couples get and stay on the same page.

In a face-to-face setting, having those conversations is a good thing, but the researchers say doing it via texting can makes things worse.

“Reaction to disappointment and reality testing occurs more quickly face to face,” researcher Jonathan Sandberg said. “There is a narrowness with texting and you don’t get to see the breadth of a person that you need to see.”

The research, published last week in the Journal of Couple and Relationship Therapy, found that for women, using text messages to apologize, work out differences or make decisions was associated with lower relationship quality.

For men, too-frequent texting was associated with lower relationship quality.

However, the research also shows that a sweet text message works for both men and women, and sending a loving text was even more strongly related to relationship satisfaction than receiving one.

The researchers came to the conclusion that if you don’t have something nice to text, don’t text at all.