Texting has become a necessary part of life – particularly in our personal lives.
As a therapist, I love the transparency that texting provides me. Gone are the days when I used to rely on a client’s ability to accurately retell a conversation of what transpired outside of session. Texting, for me, is the equivalent of going directly to the videotape.
Not a day goes by without someone thrusting their phone into the camera of our Zoom session, saying, “Can you believe this?!”
I can believe it because I’ve seen it all.
All too often, my well-meaning client is surprised to find herself on the receiving end of my text scrutiny. So today, I offer you the 7 most common mistakes I see people make which cause their conversations (and often, their relationships) to implode.
1. You text too much.
This takes on different forms:
- You text too often. Once or twice during the day is plenty for emotionally healthy adults with lives. People who expect their partners (or any other functional adult) to be on call annoy me.
- You text novellas. We’re all occasionally guilty of spilling a paragraph or two, but those instances should be paired with a self-deprecating remark that acknowledges the length of the text, which indicates to the recipient that you have some self-awareness. I find that most offenses in life can be soothed with self-deprecation.
- You don’t wait for the previous text to be answered before shooting out another text. This results in your recipient feeling as though they’re speed texting. Also, it’s a recipe for not getting each of your texts responded to.
2. You stop responding without notice.
When you’re in the middle of a text conversation (a text conversation is when a text has been sent or received and responded to at least once within a few minutes), it is reasonable for you to need to stop – especially during the day. It is not, however, reasonable for you to walk away without giving the person with whom you were texting a heads up. Just say, “Hey, my boss just walked in. Gotta go.” Or just say, “Gotta go.” Say something.
3. You have unreasonable textspectations.
This takes on several forms:
- You receive a text message that could be interpreted several ways, and you decide on an interpretation without asking questions that would allow your partner to clarify their meaning. This happens because it doesn’t even occur to you that different people see things in different ways. You assume that everyone sees things the way you do. Try giving people the benefit of the doubt. Go ahead – ask a question. What’s the worst that will happen? Your assumption will be proven right? At least now you can be upset over something real.
- You look for the subtext in your texts. You read into things. You assign meaning to texts. You think blowing someone a kiss means you’re in a relationship. Or that a delay in response means the person’s not into you. You’re not a shrink. Stop analyzing.
- You send subtext in your texts. You say one thing but mean another. One of the most annoying ways people do this is by adding LOL to things they mean. It’s the text equivalent of people verbalizing a truth as though it were a joke. Say what you mean and mean what you say. If you don’t have the balls to say it directly, keep it to yourself until you’re able to.
4. You’re kind of miserable.
“How’s your day, Beautiful?” is not an invitation for you to vomit negativity all over my phone. It’s a text, for fucks sake. Can’t you wait until we’re in person? Or Facetiming? No one wants to feel like they have to talk you off a ledge. Especially not someone you’re dating. You want your partner to look forward to your texts, not feel the need to brace when they see your text pop up on their phone.
5. Your humor lands flat.
And it’s not just yours, it’s everyone’s. Sarcasm is completely lost in text exchanges. Don’t do it.
6. You’re a lazy texter.
You think that because you’re texting, your partner doesn’t give a shit about grammar, fragmented sentences, and those annoying acronyms that dorks use to make themselves feel hip. In general, your texting style creates endless miscommunications that healthy adults don’t have time for. You use talk text. Or Autocorrect. Or both. Either way, you don’t proofread your texts before sending them out.
7. You don’t know when to stop.
You don’t see the harm in having a heated conversation via text. Or you don’t see the warning signs that a conversation is escalating and should resume old-school style (verbally, or in-person). Serious conversations have serious consequences, and given the propensity for miscommunication, you should NEVER have a serious conversation via text.