Put the phone DOWN!
It's no secret that much of the communication between potential or new partners occurs behind the computer screen or through text messaging.
By definition, online dating begins on the Internet. However, growing trends suggest that new relationships continue to take place over technology and have become less about connecting and interacting in person.
As texting becomes a more socially acceptable way to make plans and stay in touch with romantic interests and friends, picking up the phone or meeting in person can unfortunately become more infrequent.
Texting has become a primary method of connection and communication in many potential or budding relationships, but does an overreliance on text messages make your relationship soar or suffer?
Here are two major problems associated with too much texting during the dating process:
1. Texting too much before you meet your date in person can make it more difficult to connect in person.
A major problem associated with too much texting between you and a romantic interest you haven't met is that by the time you actually hear each other's voices or meet in person, you have inaccurate perceptions and assessments of each other. Therefore, you are more likely to be disappointed at the initial meeting.
Often, the disappointment is centered on feeling let down when the person you meet is compared against your original assessment behind the technology.
Many of my clients have returned from their dates telling me that the person they met seemed entirely different than the person they emailed or texted with extensively. They generally described their date as more shy or awkward than they had envisioned. While their text message exchanges may have been natural, funny or flirty, there was a different energy to the date. This has left many feeling confused or really uncertain about moving forward.
Think about it … when someone sends you a text, you assign meaning, voice tone and much more to the words on your screen. Without knowing how the person sounds or how the person hopes to deliver his or her message because you don't truly know each other, you are bound to operate on assumptions. This leads to a potentially flawed interpretation of the message and who the person is.
As you get to know and spend time with them in person (think friends, family and co-workers), you naturally do a better job interpreting their texts and emails. This is why it's essential to invest in your dating life by giving potential partners a chance to connect with you in person.
It is also important to remember that text exchanges tend to be more flirty than in person (less chance of rejection via text!).
2. Texting keeps you safe, but does not get you far in the relationship world.
The appeal of texting extends far beyond convenience and can easily become a safe and strategic way to connect. A text message acts as a buffer from the discomfort associated with asking someone out and the possibility of being rejected. It keeps you in the safety zone and fosters avoidance of difficult conversations face-to-face or over the phone.
It may feel easier to be witty, send thoughtful responses or express romantic desire over text, but texting will only take you so far.
Frequent texting prevents you from building the confidence and courage needed for emotional and social risks and gaining necessary coping skills to handle anxiety and nerves associated with asking someone out or telling someone you like them. The more you hide behind texting to flirt, give compliments or get a date, the harder it becomes to conquer your fears and be intimate in person.
Of course it feels more comfortable being rejected through a text message or behind a computer screen, but if all dating inquiries occur through these means, you are not truly putting yourself in a position to achieve true love and intimacy. Unfortunately, you will block your relationship from progressing if texting is the main way you communicate, especially if you cannot comfortably engage with someone you like in person.
While texting has its advantages, such as being quick, easy and painless (or just less painful), it is not romantic and does not build true intimacy and effective communication over time. Healthy and stable relationships occur when both partners are willing to be vulnerable and present with each other face-to-face.
Texting in moderation works well, if you include more time in person to assess the quality of your connection and deepen your relationship. If you meet online, I highly recommend having a phone conversation to set up any dates and hear your date's voice prior to meeting.
Bottom line: If you want your relationship to go the distance, I urge you to place the phone on silent mode, and enjoy the many perks of spending time with someone you care for.
This article was originally published at eHarmony. Reprinted with permission from the author.