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DATING DOS AND DON'TS - Text versus Phone Call in a Relationship

Calling all human beings who date: Texting as the go-to means of communication needs to stop! There is definitely a time and place for texting, but I’m sorry – that time is not every moment of every day.

It’s a legitimate question to ask: When should I call and when should I text?

As a rule, call when you want to hear your date’s voice, when you’re upset, and when you plan on talking for a few minutes or longer. On the other hand, text to say hello, good morning, or good night, or to make specific plans that don’t require an actual phone conversation.

When you first start dating someone, share what your expectations are for calls and texts.

If you’re someone who loves the phone as much as I love my plush living room couch at the end of a long day, connecting on the phone is something you probably need – and there is nothing wrong with that. At the start of a relationship, don’t be afraid to spell out how – and how often – you like to communicate. Do you need to talk on the phone every day, or maybe just a few times per week? Do you like a “Good morning!” text? If so, say it and then wait to see if they can meet your needs.

Texting No-No #1: When one or both of you are upset

Never discuss emotional issues while texting. For your part, never initiate texts to discuss emotional issues or the fact that you’re upset about something. I recently had a female client tell me that she was feeling insecure and upset with the new guy she was dating, and she got out her phone and started texting. What ensued? Twenty minutes of back-and-forth texting that got both of them more upset, with no follow-up phone call or resolution. There was awkward, bad energy between the two of them before they started texting, and the texting made the divide between the two of them even worse.

For your date’s part, he or she shouldn’t be texting about emotional issues either! If he or she sends a text that broaches any type of emotional issue (e.g., Are you mad at me? Why were you acting weird tonight?), do not respond by text. Instead, pick up the phone and call. Say clearly, “I always think it’s better to talk as opposed to sending texts or emails which can confuse things more.” If your date doesn’t pick up or responds with a text that says he or she can’t talk and can only text (e.g., he’s in a meeting), pick up the phone again and leave a message that says to call you later during a particular time frame. For example, say, “Call me anytime between 6 and 10 tonight when you have a chance.” Pressing pause on the texting also helps to remind you that there is no manic rush to solve the problem immediately. Sometimes sitting with your feelings is much better than acting on them.

Texting No-No #2: When you want the intimacy of a real conversation

Sometimes, a text is going to provide enough emotional connection for you; other times, you are going to want more: a real, live voice on the other end that actually has a beating heart inside. It’s important when reaching out to anyone you’re dating that you ask yourself what you would like most to do: talk or text. If you decide you want to talk, don’t worry about what he or she wants – just put your need out there and see if he or she is able to meet your need.

Texting No-No #3: When you want to break plans – or break up

Let’s get this one out of the way: Sending a text as a breakup message is either cowardly or cold-hearted, and I am sure that you are capable of more sensitive and compassionate behavior. We don’t need to drive this one into the ground – just don’t do it.

Breaking plans by texting happens all the time. If you need to break plans but are still interested in the person, call and say, “I wanted to call you because I’m not able to make our plans, but I didn’t want to send a text for fear that you might think I wasn’t interested.” This is the gold standard of dating communication. On the other hand, if you need to break plans because you realize you’re not interested any longer, try this: “I think you deserve the respect of a phone call, but I wanted to say that I need to cancel. I’m really sorry but I don’t feel like we’re a good fit. I wanted to call though to say that I’m glad I met you and really wish you well.”

Making this type of call is respectful of the other person, even though the content of what you’re saying – not seeing him or her again – is upsetting.

The next time you go to text a date, make sure that you avoid the texting no-nos and summon the energy or courage to call more often than you text. The best relationships are going to have a foundation of good, clear communication – and telephone calls lead to a much better relationship than texting!

Do you like texting — or is it bothersome to you in your friendships and relationships?


About the Author:

Dr. Seth Meyers has had extensive training in conducting couples therapy and is the author of Dr. Seth’s Love Prescription: Overcome Relationship Repetition Syndrome and Find the Love You Deserve.

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