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How to Prevent Text and Instant Messaging from Smothering a Relationship

Joshua Lockhart 03-07-2013

instant messagingLadies and gents, ever heard of the old phrase, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder?”


It’s not just some silly cliché. In fact, it’s quite possibly more relevant in this day and age than it ever has been. Why? Simple: It’s nearly impossible to be absent anywhere these days. We are an omnipresent society that utilizes avatars and instant messaging which reside in mobile phones, PCs, and tablets that connect us with other people who can be miles away. With that said, like all things, communication can become poisonous if it becomes too intense.

Unfortunately, constant communication kills relationships – emphasis on the word “constant”. However, by looking past technology and into human interaction, there are ways to prevent text and instant messaging from smothering a relationship.

Don’t Text So Much When You First Meet A Person

instant messaging

Texting Viber: Call & Text Other Users For Free [iPhone] Free calling and texting for your iPhone. Yep. It's real. With Viber, that's exactly what you get since it works through whatever WiFi connection you happen to be using. This gives you one more reason... Read More and IMing do not convey the personality of a person very well. It’s the same reason that sarcasm doesn’t work over these mediums. With that said, when most of your initial interaction with a person is held via text on a screen, you may get the wrong impression of what they are like. This can lead to a variety of awkward in-person interactions when you do not know how to respond because your whole idea of the individual is based on instant messaging.

(It’s also why characters in movies can seem quite different than their in-book counterparts.)


Save The Serious Stuff For IRL


Things you shouldn’t text your girlfriend:

“I crashed my car.”

“My grandfather died.”


“I’m leaving you for Jenny.”

All of these messages have a rather serious inflection, and they should be saved for a more intimate setting (except the last one – you actually might want to text that). Serious issues like these typically require a tad more communication than the discussion about the core topic at hand. Without the added flavors of human-to-human comfort, touch, and body language, your relationship can suffer. Think of it like a balanced meal – you need a bit of everything in order to stay healthy.

With that said, save the serious, dramatic stuff for a real face-to-face conversation. If worse comes to worst, make it a phone call. Tone and inflection can do wonders!

Know You Can Live Without It

text messaging


My girlfriend and I are at a point where texting and instant messaging isn’t that big of an issue – it’s not a necessity in our relationship. So here’s what I recommend if you feel like your relationship : perform a self-check. Do you feel compelled to text and IM your significant other? If that’s the case, then chances are that you are killing your relationship already. When you become attached to the presence of a person rather than the actual person, things can get a little uncomfortable.

With that said, I do tend to text my girlfriend on a near-constant basis. We send each other funny cat pictures 8 Purrfect Cat Websites For Feline Lovers Cats are everywhere online… as photos shared by friends on social networking sites, as cute pics on Reddit, on any of the cat-centric Tumblr sites, and even here on MakeUseOf. Oh, and then there’s Nyan... Read More and short bits about our workday, and honestly, this makes my life a little more interesting.

However, when she takes a nap, has to stop texting during her work hours, or is out with a friend, I don’t crawl in a hole and die. I’m still able to function, so it’s obvious that we are doing things in a healthy manner. If it got to a point where I found myself constantly waiting on a text message or IM from her, then I would know it’s time to take a break.

Do You Still Know The Person?

instant messaging


There’s a joke I have with my girlfriend. If we ever get to the point that we start instant messaging or texting cliché messages like “What’s up” or “K”, then we know it’s time to cut texting out completely. Granted, we still say occasionally this stuff, but it’s for practical purposes.

Sometimes people participate in two relationships with the same person because of texting and IMing. While in a face-to-face relationship you can watch the person grow and change throughout the course of their life, text messaging – again – doesn’t show very much personality. While a person may be constantly evolving throughout their lives, you may not be able to even tell through their text messages.

With that said, make sure you clear out your day for some facetime, and no, I don’t mean Apple’s patented product How to Use Your iPhone as a Webcam: A Step-by-Step Guide Did you know it's possible to use your iPhone as a webcam? Here's a step-by-step guide to setting it up. Read More . Instead, make sure you know the person so you adapt their personality to provide life for the words on the screen.


Text messaging and instant messaging are like spices. A little bit is good on food, but it is possible to let their flavors overpower the main dish. With that said, make sure you are using the right amounts of ingredients in your relationship.

What other ways do you prevent texting and IMing from smothering your relationship? Do you believe couples should even use these mediums?

– K thx bye. xxx

Related topics: Instant Messaging, SMS, Windows Phone.

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  1. dragonmouth
    July 3, 2013 at 2:14 pm

    "We are an omnipresent society that utilizes avatars and instant messaging"
    We are a society that is addicted to constant and instant contact. People today do not know how to be alone. They have gotten so used to 24/7/365 contact that even a threat of an interuption of that contact will give them the willies. Without the constant stroking of repeated "likes" and "friending" many people feel worthless and become insecure.

    Today it is a constant stream of IMs and texts. 40-50 years ago we spent hours on the landline with our GF/BF. A 100 years ago we sent our GF/BF 2 or 3 hand-written letters every day. In each case the overload of communication could and would kill a relationship. Even in a committed relationship such as a marriage, too much contact is corrosive. Familiarity breeds contempt. Each parther needs his/her space, needs time alone.

    "Do you believe couples should even use these mediums?"
    What I believe is immaterial. Sheeple will follow the herd. As another MUO poster aptly observed, if the arbiters of kewl decreed that breathing was not chic, the sheeple would stop breathing. (Thank you, Lisa)

    • Lisa Santika O
      July 9, 2013 at 1:45 pm

      "We are a society that is addicted to constant and instant contact. People today do not know how to be alone. They have gotten so used to 24/7/365 contact that even a threat of an interuption of that contact will give them the willies. Without the constant stroking of repeated “likes” and “friending” many people feel worthless and become insecure."
      So true. People should learn such things shouldn't affect one's self-esteem, but it's getting harder as social networks keep pushing in our lives in ways that I doubt going in the lines of 'social'.
      2 or 3 letters everyday? Wow.
      It's different for each individuals. One would like to have some degree of privacy while another might like a 'completely open' relationship, which I'm not a big proponent of. I agree with Joshua that when don't know what to text, then stop.

      Oh, and as much as I want to take the credits, I already said I read that joke somewhere before:)

  2. shoppe
    July 3, 2013 at 1:05 pm

    "Do you feel compelled to text and IM your significant other? If that’s the case, then chances are that you are killing your relationship already. "

    What are your credentials? Where are your references? I suspect you pulled this statement (the whole article in fact) right out of your ass. Another 20-year-old relationship expert clogging up the Internet with even more non-news.

    • Joshua Lockhart
      July 3, 2013 at 1:21 pm

      My degree in Texting and Relationship Studies should be sufficient evidence that I was qualified to write this article. But you're right. The Internet should be filled only with news. Nothing else. Only news.

    • dragonmouth
      July 3, 2013 at 2:17 pm

      And what are YOUR credentials, other than a snarky disposition?

      Obviously you haven't had a relationship yet, meaningfull or otherwise.

  3. Marcus white
    July 3, 2013 at 5:30 am

    Wow I wish I had seen this sooner. All of this is so true, in in a long distance relationship and wasn't able to visit my girl for almost a month so texting got out of hand and so it made phone calls sort since we had already texted all we wanted to tell each other...

    Now she wants a break, and I have a hard time not talking to her, but I understand now what she feels.

    I still think it's a bit excessive to cut all communication, but could this actually be a good thing, or should we still only meet in person instead of other communication?

    • Joshua Lockhart
      July 3, 2013 at 5:35 am

      If she wants a break, then I say I break it off. If you're in a relationship, then you have already committed to each other. Me? I don't do breaks.

      As far as the texting goes, that's no big deal. I think the problem might be the LDR itself. I'm not against LDRs whatsoever, but it might be good for you two to have a face-to-face to talk things through.

      I'm not against cutting out texting either, but if it's damaging your relationship, then maybe it's a good idea to take a break from that. Just not each other.