Is Too Much Texting A Relationship Killer?

by Elizabeth Nolan Brown

It may take 163 text messages to fall in love, but once you're there: Whoa, Nelly. Cool it on texting front or you could be in trouble, researchers say. In a new study, Brigham Young University professors claim that too much texting — especially from men — is associated with poorer relationship quality.

The study, published in the Journal of Couple and Relationship Therapy , was designed to identify associations between texting habits and relationship stability. Researchers Lori Schade and Jonathan Sandberg looked at 276 young adults in serious, committed relationships. These 18- to 25-year-olds completed survey questions about how they connect with their partners using technology, and how satisfied and secure they felt about their current relationships.

Overall, male texting frequency was negatively associated with relationship satisfaction and stability for both partners. In other words, the more often a guy texted his girl, the more likely both of them were to feel insecure or unsatisfied in their relationship.

"We're wondering if this means men disconnect and replace in-person conversations with more texting," Schade said. "Maybe as they exit the relationship, they text more frequently because that's a safer form of communication. We don't know why, that is just a conjecture."

For women, texting frequency was positively associated with their own relationship stability scores (i.e., more texts equaled more positive feelings about the relationship). It had no significant effect on how male partners viewed the relationship.

It's important to remember that the researchers can't say what's cause and what's effect here. Maybe a dude who texts all the time creates relationship dissatisfaction because he's driving you nuts; but his frequent communication could also be a symptom of an already rocky attachment or underlying issues on his part that lead to relationship insecurity. Similarly, text messaging to work out problems could cause communication problems. But it could also be a sign that the couple hadn't worked out healthy communication methods in general.

Another recent look at technology and relationships found that having too many mutual friend circles on Facebook portended an impending breakup. Meanwhile, according to Pew, at least half of Millennials are using social media to check in on exes once the relationship ends. As the ubiquity of at-your-fingertips technology and social media grows, so does its effects on our relationships.