A “good morning text” when you get to the office. A lunch break phone call to check-in. A late afternoon Gchat to LOL together over a ridiculous meme. Some of us talk to our SOs a lot throughout the work day. Sometimes, it’s precisely what gets us through all those tight deadlines, tough meetings, and nerve-wracking presentations. But how often should you talk to your partner during work hours? Is it possible to have too much of a good thing? And if so, how much is too much communication?
Texting has put us in contact with our significant others far more frequently than couples in previous decades. In fact, Pew Research Center research from 2015 revealed that 85 percent of young people in romantic relationships expect to hear from their SO at least once a day, if not more. While 35 percent of participants said they expect their boo to reach out every few hours, just 11 percent expect communication every hour.
And in some ways, this increased contact can actually be positive for our relationships — mostly, it comes down to whether your habits line up with your partner’s. In fact, a 2013 study of couples between the ages of 18 and 25 found that people who have similar texting styles to their SOs are more satisfied in their relationships. It didn’t matter how often they texted or even what the messages were about — just that they tended to reach out at the same frequency level. In other words, it’s difficult to define what’s “normal” or healthy in regards to texting because every relationship is different — ultimately, it’s more important that you and bae text at the same pace, whether that’s only once a day or every few hours.
“What is normal and healthy for one couple may be very unhealthy for another,” says relationship advice expert April Masini. “Every person and every couple is different, so figure out what works best for you. You want to connect because you feel affectionate, supportive and companionable. You also want to be respectful of your partner’s time and space as well.”
It seems that texting can either strengthen your bond or drive you apart — ultimately, it comes down to the intention behind your texts. One study that was published in the Journal of Couple & Relationship Therapy showed that for both men and women, texting to express affection was linked to higher partner attachment. So if you’ve ever hesitated to shoot your boo a quick message to let them know you’re thinking of them or you love them, it’s safe to say that text can’t hurt.
Not only that, but a 2018 study published in Computers in Human Behavior found that a simple supportive text can actually make a difference when your SO is stressing out. Researchers from the University of California recruited 75 women to and tasked them with preparing a speech to give publicly. While they were working on it, some of those women received a text from their partners offering some encouraging and empowering words, and some did not. Meanwhile, some women received mundane texts from their partners that had nothing to do with the task they were working on, such as “it’s cold in here.” Unsurprisingly, the women who got encouraging texts said they felt loved and cared for. And even the women who received mundane messages had a positive response to their partner’s texts — researchers suspect that this is because it simply reminded them of their significant other’s presence, which can be comforting.
However, Masini says there are some factors to keep in mind when assessing how healthy your texting habits are with your boo.
For one, she advises taking your careers and lifestyles into consideration.
“For instance, if one of you is an emergency room physician or surgeon, and the other is a firefighter, you’re going to have periods of time where you just can’t be in touch, and these periods can be long,” she says. “But if you’re both freelance writers, and have no gigs or deadlines looming, you’re both going to have a lot more freedom to talk more often and for longer periods of time when you do connect during work hours.”
Keeping this in mind will help you to be realistic about how often you’re able to connect throughout the day. She also notes that there may be certain times when special circumstances affect your communication frequency. For example, if one of you is job hunting, you’re moving in together, or you’re trying to plan a wedding, you’re probably going to need to talk more during work hours.
As for when you should worry about your workday communication bae, Masini says it’s important to observe how much drama is happening in your communication. If you find that you’re often letting arguments or fights play out into your workday, your communication can be distracting and counterproductive.
“Try to make work a fight-free zone for your relationship,” she adds. “If you both know that there will be no fighting during work hours, it’s a lot less stressful for both of you. In fact, if you are fighting, taking that work-hour time to give yourselves a ‘timeout’ may even cool the anger that generates with protracted conflict.”
Every couple will have their own comfort zone — in other words, there is no “one size fits all” in terms of how often to talk.
“Find your way together, and start with a once a day connection,” says Masini. “If that feels good for both of you, go from there — either more or less. Keep the channels of communication open and experiment.”
When it comes down to it, it seems it’s not the quantity of your communication but the quality that matters most. That said, if the frequency with which you're talking to your partner is interfering with your ability to get work done or otherwise negatively impacting your life, then it’s probably time to bring up your concerns and propose cutting back a bit. Think of this as a stellar opportunity to talk with your boo about your communication habits and needs — how they might differ, and how you might compromise.
Never underestimate the power of some affectionate or encouraging texts to bae while they’re on the job — they may make more of a positive difference than you know. As long as you and your SO are mindful of each other’s work demands and maintain realistic expectations for communication, your digital contact should remain a bright spot, not an inconvenience, during your workdays.
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