Bruce Alan Kehr, M.D. is the Founder and President of Potomac Psychiatry, ranked “Best Psychiatry Care Provider in Maryland” in 2020 by Global Health & Pharma. He has been named a Washingtonian Magazine “Top Doctor” for each of the past eight years. Dr. Kehr is a best-selling author whose works have been read by over 800,000 people in 206 countries. In 2020, Dr. Bruce Kehr’s blog was ranked #2 in the nation among mental health-related blogs. Dr. Kehr’s book, Becoming Whole: A Healing Companion to Ease Emotional Pain and Find Self-Love, is an Amazon Best Seller in the self-help categories: Happiness, Counseling, Healing, and Self-Esteem.
The quality of your communication influences the quality of your relations. Communication has changed in the digital age, and as a result intimacy often suffers. Texting has officially replaced the phone call as the preferred method to connect remotely[i] (PEW). At least with a phone call, we can infer tone and inflection. And emotional nuance. However, intimate communication is much more than words on a screen. You must factor in tone, emotional expression, and body language. We interpret all these cues to better understand the meaning of the words and put them into context. It helps us discern what the speaker is feeling inside and ultimately trying to express. There are appropriate times to send that text -but when it comes to expressing your deepest feelings, hopes and desires – there is no substitute for being face-to-face.
Digital Communication Downfalls
We now meet, flirt, and express loving feelings digitally. Some of us even end important relationships with a heartless text. A brief, “I love you!” or “Good Luck at the Meeting!” and “I’ve got your back no matter what!” are all great ways to communicate using an instantaneous loving text, but don’t confuse this with “intimate conversation.” There are many emotional pitfalls to the disembodied text messages that may characterize our love relations. Arguing, digital dumping and very personal conversations should take place the old-fashioned way, in person, or if it has to be done digitally, at a minimum, use Face Time or Skype. When it comes to intimate, deeply emotional communication, texting simply fails. Using just words, pictures, and even emoticons cannot possibly communicate the entirety of the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual connections that couples need to express to one another to authentically experience one another’s presence. It helps to experience touch, rhythm, voice intonations, body language, and facial expressions. Without these elements, intimate communication fails and is why texting can be woefully inadequate.
Texting Rules of Engagement
The text message is not about to disappear and is only increasing in popularity as a way for partners to communicate frequently and instantly. If you are going to text your partner about intimate feelings or disappointments, here are some guidelines that may mitigate some of the downside of text messaging.
- Indicate in the message whether a reply is urgent or can wait, especially when the recipient might be tied up.
- If the message you receive is ambiguous and you are not sure what the sender is saying – always clarify meaning before responding.
- Hasty responses can convey the wrong message. If you are tied up say so, and let them know that you will respond when you get a break.
- If you are texting a message that conveys highly emotional content – send your message in short pieces – so your partner can react along the conversation.
- Emoticons can help clarify and amplify emotional expression, but always clearly state your feelings first.
- Take into consideration where and with whom your partner is with when you text, as private communications may be difficult or even impossible at that moment
- If your message is very private, and you can’t wait for an in-person discussion – consider texting a request to initiate a phone call.
Intimate communications should be a full sensory experience whenever possible. While it is tempting to text away with many of the emotions that occur to you throughout the day, keep in mind that a text message communicates only a small fraction of what you could express in person. If you want to have an intimate conversation, send a text invitation with a request to talk at a time when you can genuinely connect, and openly and authentically share what’s on your mind and in your heart.
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