A Couple of Phones: Technology’s Role in Today’s Romantic Relationships

Technology, Romance and Texting

Romance and texting. These two words were once strange bedfellows; now they’re the best of friends. Digital technology has overtaken the world, and that includes the world’s romantic relationships. Lovers don’t just talk, they text. In some cases, lovers text more than they talk. It’s the nature of today’s digital (and romantic) landscape.

For better or for worse, mobile phones impact today’s romantic relationships. Consider the following three phenomena which never would have occurred before 1992, the year Short Messaging Service (SMS, or texting) came about.

Texting Throughout the Day

Couples used to exchange love letters. Now they send love texts. This, as Martha Stewart would say, is a good thing — sometimes. A recent survey from the Journal of Couple and Relationship Therapyreported that women who frequently text their lovers believe their relationships benefit from the communication. Texting, according to the women, is a helpful vehicle for mediating everyday conflicts and exchanging apologies.

Conversely, the surveyed men equated frequent texting with lower relationship quality. The researchers speculated that this could be caused by the fact that, as a man loses interest in a relationship, he gravitates toward more impersonal forms of communication that don’t require eye contact.

Long story short: Frequent texting can help strengthen a relationship, but it can also signify the cold, impersonal end of a dying romance.

Text Fighting

It’s a trap many couples fall into: Text fighting. An argument sparks, then continues digitally. While texting can be a great way to solve interpersonal problems, couples should keep a few things in mind to keep text fighting fair:

·Tone can easily be misinterpreted when no body language cues supplement the conversation.

·A third party could be on the other end of the phone, playing the part of an argumentative lover. Today’s top smartphones help guard against this by offering Google‘s new relationship voice search option for Android.

·No matter how intense a text argument becomes, both parties will experience distractions that divert their attention — traffic, e-mail pings, and so on.

·Text fighting sometimes means long, agonized waits for the other person’s reply.

Text Spying

Spying on a lover’s private text messages has become so popular, WikiHow.com offers a step-by-step guide on how to do it. Opening someone’s federally delivered mail might be illegal, but mobile software like HelloSpy make sifting through another’s text messages seem like an acceptable, mainstream practice.

Reading someone else’s private correspondence might seem shady, but it can provide documented reassurance for paranoid lovers. It can also provide helpful information for lovers who feel they aren’t getting the “whole story” from their mate.

A Word of Advice: Establish Ground Rules Early On

Mobile technology has been around a few years, but it’s still the new kid on the block. The “rules” for appropriate mobile use in a romantic setting have yet to be shaped by society. “Acceptable” mobile use varies from couple to couple; some people don’t mind if their companion surfs and texts at the dinner table while others get irked by every ping and beep that interrupt one-on-one time.

Ideally, new couples would take the time to hash out a set of mobile device “rules” before conflicts arise. The problem is, most couples never do this. In a world where “Dear Abby” and “Ask Amy” have helped define almost every social norm under the sun, mobile technology raises more questions than it answers.

Dr. Jesse Fox, professor of Communication Technology at Ohio State, advises that couples decide together when cell phone use is appropriate and when it’s not. Family and friends should be privy to the couple’s ground rules so they know what to expect, too. If a partner becomes upset over a phone issue, the problem should be discussed, not buried. Open communication is key when it comes to handling the ethical dilemmas caused by cell phone use.

Mobile technology is here to stay. Rather than fight it, most couples embrace this digital addition to their romantic lives. As society cultivates its norms for acceptable phone behavior, things are bound to get easier for the average Joe and Josephine. Easier, that is, until the next new invention comes along.

Image Source: Man And Woman Having Fun With Their Mobile Phones