You'd think that after the initial anxiety of a new relationship died down, so too would the pressure of communicating properly with your partner. And it does, at least in my experience. But the question lingers longer than one would like: How often should you text your partner? And when you text them, what should you say?
I asked these very questions of seven experts, and they had a lot to say on the subject. First off, as always, communication is key. If you're truly confused about how often you should text your partner, then bring it up with them, relationship coach Melinda Carver tells Bustle. "This is a great opportunity to discuss your communication needs and styles with your partner," she says.
But the general consensus is that texting is good, and worthy of doing regularly throughout the day. "Sending texts is a good way to let your partner(s) know you are thinking of them," says Shamyra Howard-Blackburn, a licensed clinical social worker who specializes in sex and relationship therapy. "It can also heighten the suspense on what to expect when you see them again." And though it's easy to lose touch, try not to. "Many couples go hours without seeing or speaking to each other during the course of day. This can contribute to a loss of desire." So text. Here's everything you ever wanted to know about how to text your partner.
This Is How Often You Should Text
If you are married, live together, or just see each other a ton, you shouldn't go overboard on the texting, says Rob Alex. He created Sexy Challenges and Mission Date Night with his wife. "Three times are plenty" on the average day, says Alex — aka the Guru of Getting It On. Psychologist Nikki Martinez agrees, telling Bustle that three to five times a day is perfect. "More if there is something specific you need, such as picking something up, directions, or are having a discussion about something," she says. But that's assuming that you saw your partner in the morning and will see them again at night.
"Some couples can text each other all day long about numerous subjects," says Carver. "Others just touch base with two to five texts a day."
The best way to figure out how often to text your partner is to discuss it with them, says Tina Tessina, psychotherapist and author of Love Styles: How to Celebrate Your Differences. "How often a couple should text depends on the situation," Tessina, aka Dr. Romance, says. "Is texting too much at work intrusive? Does one of you like to text more often than the other, while your partner feels badgered?"
Some might be content to text all day long, while others might prefer to keep to Alex's three-times-a-day rule. "Only the couple can work out how they feel about it." If you live apart and see each other less often, feel free to text each other more, Alex says.
Texting In The Morning And At Night Is Key
There's nothing nicer than a morning salutation or a nighttime shoutout. "Texting in this case can take place of being present," Alex says. "For example, when my wife or I am away, it is always nice to get that 'Goodnight, I love you' text, or that 'Good morning, have a great day' text." But don't forego the morning/evening text, even if it can feel perfunctory, says Carver. "When you are apart, it is best to touch base in the morning and evening. It lets your partner know that you are thinking of them and that they are important to you."
Remember Their Work Schedule
"Don't get hung up on getting an answer," says Alex. "Understand that your partner could already be asleep, or not have the phone on them in the morning. Be patient for a response," he says.
Also keep your partner's work schedule in mind, says Carver. "If they cannot text during work hours, then do not send them nonstop texts." Simple enough."If they can respond to texts, keep the subject matter lighthearted or encouraging during the day."
And not everyone is adept at texting. "Some people are better at expressing themselves in writing; some are not," says Tessina.
But Avoid Serious Topics
Some would suggest that all texts include properly punctuated complete sentences. Others would err on the side of "hey," "morn," "nite," and the like. Who's right? "Texting is supposed to be short and to the point," says Alex. "Long text messages are difficult to read and respond to. My feeling is that a text should never be longer than one or two sentences at the most."
"Try a few different things, and then talk to your partner about how they feel. Texting can feel cold and impersonal, and might be creating distance rather than closeness," Tessina says. If you're feeling awkward about it, then discuss it.
If you need a hard and fast rule, relationship coach and psychic medium Cindi Sansone-Braff, author of Why Good People Can't Leave Bad Relationships, tells Bustle: "If you have something loving, kind, important, supportive or funny to say, then text away. If it's a serious topic, then that discussion is best reserved for face-to-face, or at least Facetime interactions.
As for fighting over text? Avoid it. "If it's a fight you're about to have, stop texting and make plans to meet face-to-face as soon as possible," Sansone-Braff says. "It can destroy a relationship, as the two of you send texts back and forth like hand grenades. This can result in what I call 'textual abuse,' particularly if the person is texting obsessively. Like any kind of abuse, this can ruin a relationship."
Here's What You Should Text
There are a lot of hours between morning and night. Should you just text to say hi? "Thinking of you," that kind of thing? Or should it be more creative? "I love creative texting, and nothing makes me feel more loved than when I get texts that make me smile," says Alex. You and me both, brother. "It shows your partner that you care enough to put some thought into the message. This is especially great if you know that your partner is having a rough day and needs a lift If you get a text that just says 'Hi,' it seems a little bland. At least text something like 'Hi, I was just thinking about you and smiling!' or 'I wish I could send you a kiss through the phone. Oh wait, I can. XXXXXXX.'" Cute.
"For those who see each other every day," says Carver, "you should try to send more than a one-word text." Even just something small can make a difference. "Text 'Hi sexy' versus just 'Hi,'" she says. "This is your lover, not your co-worker. Communicate as a lover, even when texting."
Carver adds, "Most couples use nicknames, or text cute messages when apart." And even if texting might seem like "yeah, yeah, whatever" sometimes, it's is necessary, says Brooke Christian, founder of Flirty Girl.
If you're early in the relationship, saying something like "I hope you are having a good day" is nice, says Martinez. "A little later in, 'Can't wait to see you tonight.' Long into the relationship, I have couples make a habit of texting one thing to each other a day that they appreciate about each other. They love this exercise, and keep it up long after we stop working with it."
"Funny, sexy, warm messages are always appreciated," Sansone-Braff says. "Just a quick text saying 'I love you' can go a long way in keeping your relationship sizzling." Just be sure to supplement regularly and liberally with real life. "Texting without seeing each other or talking with each other will surely be a buzzkill for any relationship in the long run," she says.
What About Selfies?
"Selfies can be good if you’re separated," says Tessina. "It can keep partners informed about what’s happening and the surroundings." Carver agrees — and it can be fun, she says: "Partners enjoy seeing their lover looking good. The best selfies are those that have a smile and confidence."
But everyone has a different view on this. "Selfies should be reserved for special circumstances," Alex says. If you are near an interesting object, work, or art, or if you're doing something silly, then go for it. Martinez agrees that selfies should be sent on an infrequent basis. "Only under a circumstance in which you are in a unique situation — not often, and not for no reason. If there is a purpose, or something funny about it, then go for it. But not just gratuitous pictures of yourself. It could come off as self-absorbed." Ultimately, you know your partner and your relationship best, and if you think they'd enjoy a selfie, send away.
Should You Send Links To Your Partner?
"If it prompts conversation, or makes you laugh, it’s probably helpful," says Tessina. "If you are the type that likes to send links to sites that may interest your partner, do so," says Carver. "Most partners send links for restaurants or gift choices, or important news." But don't do it all the time. "During work hours, sending texts and links may feel like one more thing to do," she adds. Martinez agrees. "Cute and funny links are OK, but don't inundate them with it," she says. If you come across something that is an inside joke, or that you know they will really like, then send it along." Otherwise, leave it alone.
But links can be bright spots in otherwise boring days, says Howard-Blackburn: "Sending funny links to your partner(s) can help them have a better day." "Try sending a funny link if you know your partner is having a bad day, or if you think it's something he/she might like."
Sexting: Yea Or Nay?
"Sexting builds anticipation," says Christian "and anticipation is the magic sauce that can make sex go from ho-hum to holy-moly." In other words, yes to sexts. "I advise clients to sext, and sext often, especially before impending things like vacations, date nights, or just when you know you’re going to get some time together." "Sexting can be fun, flirty and increase anticipation for that evening," says Carver. "Some couples sext daily, while others only sext every now and then. Sexting keeps the attraction and affection ongoing between two people."
Yes, says Howard-Blackburn: "There is a seductive mystery about receiving a naughty text from your partner in the middle of the day, or right around the 2 p.m. crash time. Sexting can also be used as a form of foreplay." You'll figure out your personal sext flow, she says: "How often one sexts depends on the texting habits of the couple."
But don't throw caution to the wind. "You have to be careful when sexting, because you never know where your partner will be receiving it," says Alex. "They could be in a meeting, or they could have their phone sitting somewhere anyone could see it. My rule of thumb for sexting is that I only do it when I know where my partner is and that it will be safe for them to receive that message."
"One of my favorite ways to sext my partner is when we are in different rooms of the house," says Alex. "That way I know it will be safe, and that if the sext sparks something, the action can start right away."
"Sexting, like sex, depends on who likes what," says Tessina. "Talk about it before and after, and see what works."
Don't Forget About The Other Thing Your Phone Does — Actual Calls
Texting is all well and good, but when it comes to an actual conversation with your partner, pick up the phone. "In-depth subjects should be verbalized to avoid miscommunication of feelings," says Howard-Blackburn. Tessina agrees. "It’s lovely to send a few sweet thoughts in the morning and evening, but be careful that it doesn’t take the place of phone calls," she says. "Hearing each other’s voices is more intimate than texting."
Exactly, says Sansone-Braff: "As a relationship coach, I'm not a huge fan of texting as a form of communication between couples, particularly if it's used as the main avenue for communication between them. A lot can get lost in translation, and it can be a very superficial way of communicating to someone."
"A quick phone call in which you actually hear your partner's voice can be a much more intimate way of interacting than a few minutes of back-and-forth texting," she says. But what if that's not possible? What if you're at work? Or what if you just prefer casual texts to a more formal conversation during the day? "If you must use texting to communicate," she says, "then by all means, text away." But don't forget to keep your messages "loving," she says.
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