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We Need To Talk

In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to reveal a different aspect of the infamous request & phrase “We need to talk”, and its direct connection to the dangers of texting for couples.

First a quick update:

“The 6 red flags – when to dump him”
Click to watch the video and read my insights about the 6 red flags of the behavior you should never accept in a relationship.

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Now, let’s talk about a different aspect of the infamous request & phrase “We need to talk”, and its direct connection to the dangers of texting for couples.

“Men, we misunderstand women a lot.
You know, we always undermine their feelings; you can’t do that to women.
Feelings are very important to women. They are all important to women. Everything is based on how they feel.
When men tell a story – it will just be facts – who, what, when, where, why…
Women will tell all these stories:
‘Well, first you have to understand I was on my period and I just talked to my mother…’ So many feelings.
But they’ve got to talk about them. That’s how they get me.
I’ll be sitting there watching TV, chilling and my old lady will come up to me,
‘David. We need to talk.’
I don’t say that aloud. That’s how I feel inside.
I know every time we need to talk, we need to talk about some s..t I need to do. We never have to talk about some s..t she needs to do.”
Dave Chappelle, live stand-up 2007

It is true that for most men, when they hear a woman say to them, “We need to talk” they automatically believe that they are in trouble.

Indeed, one of the greatest complaints by women about men is that men don’t communicate enough or at all.  ‘We just don’t communicate. He doesn’t communicate.’

Of course, what they really mean is ‘he doesn’t talk enough about his feelings or what he is truly thinking.’

With today’s advances in technology and the extraordinarily fast ways we communicate, there are actually less ways to fully communicate emotion, thought and desire; less ways to reveal ourselves fully and wholeheartedly.

Text messaging trains us to think in short sentences; in sound bytes; in ways where we are simply exchanging basic information – basic facts and highly simple responses. N.B. I am not here addressing the effects of texting upon literacy or grammatical development.

What text messaging also does is it disconnects couples.

A 2013 study (conducted by Brigham Young University, Utah, researchers Lori Schade and Jonathan Sandberg, and co-authored by professors Roy Bean, Dean Busby and Sarah Coyne) found that texting and constant connection through technology actually disconnects committed couples.

Women need quality communication (i.e. the revealing of emotions and the acknowledgment of understanding by the other person.) The study found that when women use text messaging to apologize, sort out differences & disagreements or make decisions, they rated their relationship as lower quality. Interestingly, men rated their relationship as lower quality when they are frequently receiving as well as frequently sending texts.

“Reaction to disappointment and reality testing occurs more quickly face to face…There is a narrowness with texting and you don’t get to see the breadth of a person that you need to see” says one of the study’s researcher Jonathan Sandberg.  Click to read more.

The key point here is the need for people to discuss important matters face to face. This is directly linked to “Mirror Neurons.” Our brain has multiple neuron systems which allow us to be able to read, interpret and even feel what the other person is feeling and doing. For example, when you meet your friend and say “You look sad and worried”, it is your mirror neurons which are firing and allowing you to be able to discern what he/she is feeling. Click to read more.

Thus, it is hard to determine and interpret via text what the other person is actually experiencing. It is so easy to misunderstand the meaning and emotion behind the words on your phone screen.

Remember, 55% of all of our communication of feelings and attitudes is done non-verbally (body language – facial expressions, etc.), while 38% is the tonality of our voice, and only 7% is the actual content – the words. Click to read more.

Other studies have found that texting encourages lying: consider the ways and frequency of occasions where you have lied about your location, what you are doing, what you feel like doing, what is truly happening with you, that you “can’t talk right now”, and other excuses you have concocted to avoid a commitment or engagement. Consider times when you have simply ignored the text and later lied, saying you never received it or somehow you missed it. Click to read more.

Texting is a powerful tool for the exchange of basic information and data. As Britney Spears revealed in 2009, it is a simple and easy tool to even end a marriage – she announced to her husband via text that she was going to divorce him. Watch the video here.

While texting can be a fast way and easy way to terminate a relationship (as well as an easy way to avoid confrontation), texting cannot bring about closure or resolution.

Bluntly and boldly stated, texting while arguing or trying to resolve a serious issue, is simply an act of ego, fear and cowardice.

Yes, I too have engaged in this behavior – only to regret the poor outcome.

It is a trap that undermines the relationship: you and your partner or friend are arguing, disagreeing or trying to resolve a serious matter via text; emotions are intense; words and your misinterpretation of the meaning of the words are triggering more emotions and false conclusions.

Frustration increases.

Hurt occurs.

Disconnect is beginning; the gap is widening and you feel that this is pointless and useless. You lose hope for the relationship, resolution and outcome.

You subconsciously withdraw and reveal less of yourself in the relationship.

You find ways to hide, run away or isolate yourself from your partner, or you end the relationship.

And if the above scenario occurs with a friend, you stop communicating at all or it turns into fake and empty exchanges of “Sorry, I am just really busy.”

The way you text affects the quality and development of the relationship – thus, also the longevity and termination of that relationship or even friendship. The 2013 study by Brigham Young University also reveals that “expressing affection via text enhances the relationship” and “sending a loving text was even more strongly related to relationship satisfaction than receiving one.”

But the way you connect and communicate in person determines the quality and satisfaction of the relationship.

You must be willing to ‘fight for what you want’ – for your relationship; that means be willing to act in spite of fear, to do things that are uncomfortable i.e. talk in person, face to face.

So, next time she says “We need to talk” – for the sake and happiness of your relationship – actually talk! Do not text. Talk!

[It is also understood, as research verifies, that texting is effective for casual dating i.e. asking someone out, getting acquainted and flirting. Aside of relationships, texting and its perceived ‘safety factor’ has also resulted in troubled teens reaching out for help and actually the saving of lives. Find out more information ]

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I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”

Patrick Wanis Ph.D.
Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & SRTT Therapist

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