What His Text Really Means During a Spat

photo: CorbisIt’s speedy, flirty, and convenient, but fire off too many text messages during a tiff and your relationship will suffer, according to new research conducted by Brigham Young University.

The study included 276 adults, all in relationships (38 percent were seriously dating someone, 46 percent were engaged, and 16 percent were married). And while 82 percent of both men and women traded multiple texts a day with their partners as a form of relationship maintenance (“How is your day?” “Miss you!”), when couples texted frequently about serious issues, gender differences came into play. “We found that when couples use texting to express affection or connect, both sexes experienced higher relationship satisfaction,” lead study author Lori Schade, PhD., tells Yahoo Shine. "However, during an argument, women who text more might do so as a means to resolve issues or apologize; men might text more because they’re unsatisfied with the relationship and texting is how they avoid emotional intimacy.”

As a result, men who send and receive too many messages experience lower relationship satisfaction. And women who fire off too-frequent missives in an attempt to apologize, make relationship decisions, or pacify the situation, are unhappy as well.

More on Yahoo Shine: The Two Words She Never Wants to Hear Him Say

Schade says this relationship dynamic occurs in real life, too — any woman who's tried to hammer home a point by raising her voice and reiterating the message, only to be stonewalled by her mate, can relate. It’s basic biology: Men carry a gene called SRY which activates the “fight or flight” response (fight it out or bolt), according to a study published in the journal BioEssays. Women don't carry the gene, so during arguments, they tend to diffuse the situation or vent to a friend.

And having this relationship dynamic play out over text message can heighten the conflict, because a cell phone masks emotional cues (facial expressions, tone of voice) that could potentially help mend a riff. The bottom line: If you’re angry with your partner, back away from the keypad and talk face to face. 

Here are three ways texting can actually help your relationship:  

Text like a team: Couples who refer to themselves as “we” may seem smug, but those lovebirds have happier marriages and experience less stress than those who often say “I” or “me,” according to research conducted by the University of California at Berkeley. The reason: Such pronouns emphasize a couple’s shared sense of identity, helping them handle conflict better. Sending text messages such as, “What do we want to do tonight?” or “How do we feel about this?” will do the trick.

Share an inside joke: Every couple has a brand of humor that’s hilarious only to them — a cutesy pet name or reference to a terrible movie that inexplicably cracks them up. No one outside the relationship understands — but that’s the point. Reminiscing about these moments can make a relationship stronger because it creates an “us against them” feeling, according to a study published in the journal Motivation and Emotion. So, text him an anecdote from that disastrous date or vacation gone wrong for a laugh. 

Dare to sext:
Sure, sexting has a dirty rep, but if done right, it can boost your bond. Research presented at the 2012 American Counseling Association Conference found that couples who flirted via text message had increased confidence and satisfaction during sex and were more willing to broaden their bedroom horizons. Just remember to delete your steamy exchanges!

More on Yahoo Shine:

Pediatricians Want Kids to Stop Texting So Much
Is Your Man High Maintenance?
Facebook Knows When Your Relationship Is on the Fritz