There’s a reason your relationship may not be working out – texting incompatibility

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Interesting article. Communication styles can be so different – particularly when it comes to expressing emotions. Even between long married couples, this can cause misunderstandings and unnecessarily hurt feelings. Our Relight weekends help couples deal with this, and more, for longer lasting and happier times together for the future. Simples!! 

“What’s wrong with me?” Those were the words of a young woman, sunbathing with her friend on the meadow beside the Hampstead Heath Ladies pond. She was talking quickly – and rather loudly – with audible anger in her voice.

“I still hadn’t heard anything by 6pm, so I messaged him to say I was going to the pub. Nothing. Finally at 11pm he texts to say he’s so sorry and he only just left the office. Now, all of that is fine. FINE. But why couldn’t he communicate any of that to me so I didn’t have to feel like a needy housewife waiting by the phone?”

It’s a valid question. Now, look, I’m no therapist and I could only ascertain so many details by eavesdropping. But from what I did hear, this woman’s experience illustrated a common issue in today’s modern dating scene – texting incompatibility.

Perhaps you’ve heard of it, though I wouldn’t be surprised if you haven’t. Ostensibly, it means what it says on the tin: that you and your partner have different texting styles. But as my new pond pal (let’s call her Priscilla) exhibited, it’s a little more complicated than you might think.

Let’s assume Priscilla had been dating this man for a few weeks. Clearly, they’d spent enough time together for her to have a degree of expectation from him. And even though hoping someone shows up to a date you’ve tentatively planned is hardly asking for a lot, it seems like it was too much of a commitment for this guy. Like Priscilla said, that’s fine. FINE. We all have jobs, meetings run late, requests come in at the last-minute.

But if you know that someone is on the other end of the phone, waiting to hear from you so they know how their evening is going to pan out, the least you can do is let them know you’re busy. Right? I’ve been in Priscilla’s shoes many times. I suspect that she, like me, is someone who prides themselves on being a good communicator. I almost always reply to people within a day. I rarely leave people on “read”. And if I’m running late, I let people know as soon as possible and give them an ETA. But not everyone is like this.

There are myriad reasons why this man might not have texted Priscilla to let her know he was stuck at work. The first one that springs to mind is actually narcissism – but for argument’s sake, let’s put that to one side for now and assume that he simply has a different texting style. This could take various forms. He might prefer phone calls to texts, and so rarely engages with the latter. Maybe he doesn’t look at his phone while he’s at work, or turns it off completely. Or perhaps he’s just “not very good on his phone”, which is an absurd thing to say in 2022 when we’re all glued to our smartphones, but it does apply to a minority of people.

The point is that people communicate differently. And that wouldn’t be a problem if we didn’t live in a hyper-connected society where we’re conditioned to think that everyone is contactable at all times. Priscilla wouldn’t have had this issue 20 years ago. But thanks to the advent of WhatsApp, Instagram DM, and all of the other instant messaging platforms I don’t have the energy to name, many of us expect quick responses – there’s a reason why the default status on WhatsApp is “available”.

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