Is It Bad To Fight Over Text? A Relationship Expert Gets To The Bottom Of This Dilemma
Although I've been known to gripe about the lost art of making a phone call, I will admit that texting is the easiest way to be in touch with someone. I'm infinitely impressed when a guy calls me and uses his real voice and actual words to ask me out on a first date. But once you settle into a relationship, or at least get a few dates in, texting just becomes easier. It's great to be communicative, but is it bad to fight over text? It might be hard to avoid, considering that it's likely you share most things with your partner via text: Good news, bad news, and a photo of that dog wearing a raincoat you saw on the subway. As efficient and snappy as texting can be, not all conversations are best had over text.
Most of us communicate via text message constantly, so part of me thinks that arguing with your partner over text is just a natural extension of modern communication and therefore a fine medium for conflict resolution. However, there are varying degrees of conflict. Fighting about how your partner watched the latest episode of Atlanta without waiting for you is one thing, but arguing about how your partner is dismissive of your emotions is another.
Real, true, triggering arguments are best had face-to-face with your partner, where you can note your partner's body language and energy, while also expressing yours. Jasbina Ahluwalia, relationship expert and matchmaker, cautions that these things can get lost in translation over text message. Words can be misconstrued, and confusion can arise. "Texting in the heat of the moment can result in shooting off hurtful comments you don’t really mean, and perhaps would never say face-to-face, but can’t erase." She also warns that words spoken in person with non-verbal cues like facial expressions can be interpreted in a completely different way over text.
We all do things that we know aren't great for us, like eating that late-night slice of pizza or ordering just one more round at the bar. So it's likely that we've also all fought with our partners over text and will probably do it again. Because I'd love to justify that slice and last glass of wine, I asked Heather Kristian Strang, spiritual matchmaker, if having an argument over text could ever be helpful in your relationship.
She acknowledged that life happens, and irritations can arise when we're out and about and not with our partners, so texting can seem like the best way to handle the situation. She advises, "Before hitting send, check in with yourself. Is this how you would want to be spoken to? Is this the direction you really want this relationship to go? The instant gratification of texting can cause us to say things out of line and without fully thinking through the consequences."
Let's say your partner is conflict-averse and won't really engage in an argument with you in person. You say your piece, they don't fight back and so you think everything is fine! You go about your day, the world keeps turning. But then you get a text message from them continuing your earlier argument. What now? One benefit of this out-of-the-blue text is that your partner is "saying their say" to you, instead of bottling it up and building resentment.
When crafting your response, you should choose your words wisely. Or if you really don't want to engage over text, Jasbina Ahluwalia's got you. "You can set a boundary by texting: 'Thanks for your text. I think I can better understand your point of view, and share mine, by talking this out in-person. When can you do that? Love you.'"
At the end of the day, you and your partner both want the same thing — to be happy. Heather Kristian Strang suggest that texting can be a sweet and even sexy vehicle for modern day love notes. Regarding conflict, she counsels, " What's important to keep in mind is that part of dating and relating is using our emotional maturity for how we show up in partnership. And we need emotional maturity more than ever when facing conflict in our partnerships." In any argument, just remember that you're on the same team. And hopefully that dog in the raincoat is on your team, too.
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