Importance of Communication in Relationships: How To Use Email, Phone And Text.

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More than ANYTHING, I am hearing gripes and mutters and just plain old ISSUES around the whole do I text, email, call? Do I have to do _____ in person or can I send an email? Everyone seems to have a different standard, anyone born in 1979 or later does much more via text and email than their older counterparts (something to keep in mind if you are cougar-ing or cradle robbing).

Here are my answers — by no means the final say, but just a compilation from what I hear everyone saying. If you have different opinions — post em! I’d love to hear what you are experiencing. One thing to keep in mind, some people just prefer a certain method of communication and you may need to have a conversation to figure out where you are both coming from.

PHONE

Ma Bell remains the fall back communication for most folks. The next best thing to face to face in most cases, phones are usually pretty safe as far as not offending without intent.

Times to Phone:

  • Day to day hellos, checking in to say hi, making plans, etc.
  • Conversations — whether deep or surface. Just know that you may sacrifice a bit in reading body language
  • Phone sex. Many swear by it as a way to drive up the spice factor. (A “they say” for me since it’s not really on my phone de jour list)

Times to De-Phone:

  • ET was a fan, teenage girls are a fan… why aren’t you? Some people just don’t like phones. Anything from fear of brain cancer to not liking long drawn out conversations and sweaty ears. If you are dating a non-phone talker, try to understand and keep the conversations short so you can do more face to face instead.
  • Long voice mails. Most people just don’t have the patience to listen to you ramble about your day. Nip it unless you are in a marathon version of phone tag. In which case, ramble away since you don’t get to actually “talk” very often.
  • Break ups — its really better to do this in person. If you are afraid of the person or know that you are both in the relationship death roll, a phone call can suffice. Also, if you fear that you will cave and get back together or chicken out and not say what you need to say, phone is better than nothing.

WEB CAM CHAT

A quick word on this one. Whatsapp, Viber, Skype have become a great tool to use for people who are in a distance situation and need some face to face time even if not able to do so in person. Its a good option for those comfortable with technology and prefer to see body language while talking. I wouldn’t advise this as the best way to have an in-depth conversation, but if you need to and can’t be together, its certainly the best of the options. Keep in mind that the person on the other end of the “phone” can see you from the waist up, will be more distracted by poor image and lighting than not, and that there may be delays, crashes, etc that interfere with direct and timely replies.

EMAIL

Email may be used in any number of situations without fear of offense. One thing to ascertain before sending anything too personal in nature… are you using this person’s work or personal email? If work, don’t send anything you don’t want Jo Techie in IT to read. If personal email, then trust your date to read at an appropriate time and place. If you are dating Jo or Joette Techie, then I wouldn’t worry about it.

Times to use email:

  • Mundane checking in, exchanging information, making plans, just saying hi
  • Little love notes and such are ok too, but make sure you also say this kind of thing in person as well or the other person may develop an aversion to only being e-serenaded.
  • Getting to know each other in an online dating situation. Email can be a great medium to ask hard/interesting questions and give the person time to think of how they want to reply.

Times to NEVER use email:

  • Emotionally charged conversations that need to happen face to face
  • If you are a bad writer and unsure how you come across in email — be careful as to how you email since it is INCREDIBLY easy to come across cold or uncaring when you are just being what you think of as normal and not overly emoticon-y. If you have worries, run a sample or two by a friend and see what they think.
  • Sending forwards, cute email pictures of kittens and such, emoticon-o-rama. Stop it! If you send emails all the time and expect a wordy, verbose and in-depth response within an hour of sending, give your honey a break. Email takes a lot of time out of the day, especially for people with jobs where they are away from their desk or in meetings for a good portion of the day.
  • Break ups. NEVER EVER use email to break up with someone. If you are slightly chicken-ish or the relationship is fairly new (ie. less than a month/no sex) then you can use email with judicious wisdom especially if you think the other person will take it better given time to process. But if you have been sexually intimate, exclusive, family involved, mutual friends, etc — NEVER EVER EVER use email to do the breaking. You may disappoint someone by breaking it off, but at least they’ll respect you for doing it in person in the long run. I hate to say it — but face to face is the answer on this one with phone as a last resort.

TEXTING

This one is trickier than email. Text rules shift more than the others. “Smart Phones” have affected the ease of text messaging, making it a viable option for many. But believe it or not, not everyone gets texts. If you are dealing with someone born before 1969 or is still using a “dumb” phone, you need to double check their textability for sure. But you’ve checked, and your honey gets text messages, here are the general guidelines.

Times to use texts:

  • Setting plans, just saying hi, figuring out who it is you are supposed to be meeting for your blind date, a little “thinking of you” text, funny pictures… you know, the small conversations throughout the week that bind a relationship together.
  • Sometimes compliments, innuendos, “looking forward to tonight,” etc can bring a smile to someone’s face. But again, watch for the reaction… it gets old when the only time you get complimented is via text.

Times to Avoid Texting:

  • “Textversations” when you see that you are getting into a conversation over text, just pick up the phone and call. For one, its hard to keep typing and trying to convey your true emotions, much less in quick time and on a keyboard the size of a cracker.
  • When you are driving!
  • Asking someone out on a date. DO NOT TEXT to ask someone out. Call or email, but don’t text. (You are more than likely going to get silence, sarcasm or “not interested.”)
  • Booty texting. Please, just don’t do it. If you have to get some booty — at LEAST call.
  • Drunk texting. Designate a sober friend to remove the phone from your hands if necessary. You really aren’t going to like it when you see that you sent your ex a booty text and then an impassioned hate text between the times of 2:05 and 2:10 am.
  • Any kind of conversation where you want to convey positive emotion. Text still seems fairly remote and cold to most people.

INSTANT MESSAGING

Another tricky one. Generally best used when you understand that your honey may not always be able to reply or that someone else might see their computer screen during the course of the day. To be safe, I would keep this to the little comments that make a day entertaining or finalizing plans at the end of a day. A note to the online dating crowd: please, please, please do not assume that sending sexual commentary, explicit pictures, etc. via instant messaging is a good idea. If you really want to get to that level of exposure, please make sure to ASK the other person if they want to see a naked picture of your favorite body part before sending it along.

PAPER AND PEN

Believe it or not, almost anything hand-written on paper these days is appreciated. If you are taking the time to mail it, take the time to hand-write it. Typing may be easier, but it just doesn’t convey the same personal touch as actual hand writing. Thank you notes, love letters, asking forgiveness, birthday cards, just saying hello cards… if you want to REALLY earn some brownie points, send it via snail mail.
Understand though that the converse is true as well. If you are breaking up or conveying a harsh message… it will come across 500 times harsher via mail. Be responsible. Scanning is just as easy as emailing these days, so don’t assume that your nasty letter won’t be forwarded that day to everyone you know. If you have something difficult to say, put on your “big girl/boy pants” and say it face to face. Yes, you may be misquoted but most people understand that their friend’s “verbatim” recollection may be missing a few key points from time to time and take it with a grain of salt. But if you wrote it out in all your handwritten glory… well, you are just screwed.
One of my dear friends got “dumped” via Post It note and to this day, she wins the “Worst Ever” by a mile thanks to the handwritten and mailed aspects of that little piece of paper.