Most couples have arguments from time to time, but it is not always a face-to-face battle. Many people use text messages to work out differences rather than talking to their partners. And this, researchers say, can cause committed couples to disconnect.

According to CTIA-The Wireless Association, there were around 2.19 trillion text messages sent in the US alone throughout 2012, the equivalent of 171.3 billion every month.

There is no doubt that a significant number of these texts would have been sent to partners, but researchers from Brigham Young University (BYU) have found that the frequency and content of these texts may play an important part in relationship quality.

To reach their findings, published in the Journal of Couple and Relationship Therapy, the research team conducted a study involving 276 individuals between the ages of 18 and 25 who were in a committed relationship.

Of the participants, 38% said they were in a serious relationship, 46% were engaged and 16% were married.

All participants were required to complete a questionnaire detailing how they connect with their partners through the use of technology.

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Texting for ‘relationship maintenance’ could have negative effects, researchers say.
Photo credit: Brigham Young University.

Results revealed that around 82% of individuals traded text messages with their partner multiple times a day.

However, the researchers say they were not always loving texts, as many couples used texting as a form of “relationship maintenance.”

Women in particular were found to have lower relationship quality when using text messages to apologize, work out differences or make decisions with their partners.

The researchers note that having these conversations face to face would be positive, but that texting can actually make things worse.

Jonathan Sandberg, of BYU and study author, explains:

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.”

For men, the researchers found that the more texts they send to their partner, the lower the relationship quality was between the couple.

“We’re wondering if this means men disconnect and replace in-person conversations with more texting,” says study author Lori Schade.

“Maybe as they exit the relationship, they text more frequently because that’s a safer form of communication. We don’t know why, that is just a conjecture.”

However, it is not all doom and gloom for relationship texting. The researchers found that the more loving texts both men and women sent their partners, the higher their relationship satisfaction.

Medical News Today recently reported on a study suggesting that a person does not need to see their partner’s face to know their feelings.