Except when my boyfriend and I are in each other’s company, we communicate exclusively through text message and Facebook chats. Over the past six months that we’ve been together, I can literally count on one hand the number of times we’ve talked on the phone. Actually, I just need two fingers.
Does the fact that we don’t talk voice-to-voice every day mean there is something lacking in our communication? Or have we defined a modern relationship that’s an extension of the technology of our times? The way couples interact has changed, relationships have entered the modern age of couples communicating.
Couples Communicating in the Modern Age
According to a study from 2010, 1 in 10 couples only talk by phone via text or through email. Even in their home lives together, I personally know some couples who text each other rather than walk from one room to the next. So it looks like we aren’t the only ones who’ve at least somewhat given over to the modern age.
Yet, is it really so different from the relationships of my past? My first serious relationship began my senior year in high school with a guy who lived 20 minutes away. Introduced by a mutual friend, we exchanged letters before we got up the nerve to go on a double date. It was rather awkward, but bravely we continued exchanging letters, which grew longer and increasingly personal. Then the phone calls began, and we would literally talk the night away.
Our relationship lasted for three years, including a period where I was 3000 miles away. We survived through phone calls, daily letters and eventually emails. Without the constant communication, I know we wouldn’t have lasted as long as we did through all the trying experiences we had.
There are some guys I’ve dated with whom I never really had to use other modes of communication, save brief phone calls. Whether we went to college together or lived together, we saw each other every day. Without the constant presence and low amount of effort required to stay connected, I wonder too if those relationships would have lasted as long as they did.
I had one boyfriend who loved to talk on the phone constantly. He used to call me several times a day while on the road at work, and then later, when he was relaxing in the evening. When he stopped calling me much at all, I began to worry something was wrong with our relationship. That was our greatest lifeline outside of our weekends together. It was a pretty darn good litmus test too.
I’ve dated guys who forced themselves to talk on the phone, but were admittedly terrible conversationalists. They feared not being a “phone guy” made them a bad boyfriend, when really I felt most comfortable when they were comfortable.
I’ve dated guys with busy jobs that allowed for little personal freedom for private conversation. So I’d get early morning wake-up calls, check-in lunch calls and periodic brief texts until we could get caught up for extended periods of time before bed.
Communicating by Text and Emails a Preference
I’ve had friendships turn into more thanks to texts. I’ve held difficult conversations via text and email. I’ve exchanged saucy images. And I’ve had entire relationships unravel before ever saying a word out loud. Miscommunication is so easy without intonation and physical cues, never mind the delay between messages.
In my current relationship, beyond first emails, we have always communicated through texts and IM chats, with the rare gem of the occasional love letter. There weren’t even any forced, awkward phone calls in the beginning.
So one night when he texted me, asking if I would be up for a call later, saying he could really use a familiar voice, it carried a greater weight to it than most phone calls.
Sure, Love: Talk to Me
I’ll admit I was a little nervous. I tried to remember if I’d ever heard his phone voice before—I hadn’t. In person, we could talk . During the workday, we were constantly sending thoughts back and forth, exchanging ideas, and sometimes having debates. After a few rusty volleys back and forth over the phone line, we were chatting up a storm just like we do in person. It was fun and fresh. It was special for our relationship.
Most of the time, I am content with the way we navigate our time between our visits. Yet during especially busy workdays, or when he’s got his evenings filled with his various pursuits, sometimes I forget and wonder why he’s not responding. Ever sensitive to other people’s feelings, I start to get anxious I’ve said something that might have offended—something nearly impossible with him, but you never know.
Yet I love that there is no feeling of obligation. No requisite phone call. Neither of us has to briefly step away from a night with friends because “[So-and-so] always calls me at 9 after work, so I have to talk to him for a bit.”
No, I wouldn’t mind hearing his voice more often. Or a random phone call, just to talk. I know he regularly talks to a friend or two of his on the phone at least once or twice a week. Yet I also know he’s not spending as much of the weekend with them every week as he is with me.
I also know that if and when I really need him, he’d be there for me—via whatever communication method I chose. It’s the beauty of the modern age.