OPINION: Obsessed with checking texts? You're not alone
NOT so long ago when we wanted to connect with a crush we'd need to dial a number and possibly talk to someone else before being put through.
Now we can make contact with our partner at any time, with any number of devices - all very easy but not without its own complexity.
Recently a young woman, let's call her Susan, confided in me that she feels very niggled when she messages her partner and doesn't hear back within 10 minutes.
When we explored her feelings a bit more, she went on to describe teeming thoughts about whether she had upset him last night, or whether that last text sounded stupid, or if he just wasn't really that interested after all.
When I asked her how she felt when she got a text back, she described a flooding of relief and joy and a quick text response back to him - which of course started the cycle all over again.
He texts me, he texts me not
So there you are at the start of your day - you text your beloved on the way to work, as soon as you start up your computer, at coffee, just after the staff meeting and after your workout?
And what if he doesn't respond? Or takes a long time to respond?
Interestingly, a recent study at Brigham Young University published findings that suggest that the less that men text, the higher their levels of romantic satisfaction.
The research, published in The Journal of Couple and Relationship Therapy found that when men are happy with their relationship they tend to talk to their partners more and have less reason to text.
When they are not so attached then they will text more to avoid face-to-face interactions.
Women, on the other hand, feel more connected the more they message and receive messages back. The study warned about the disruption of texting to romance and happiness
So whilst hearing something sweet in the middle of the day is a good relationship maintainer frequency of texting can create a common misunderstanding between partners, depending on the meaning and significance that they attach to texting.
Which raises the question of whether it is communication or validation that the more compulsive texters amongst us are seeking?
FOMO, FOBO or NOMOphobia?
Translation: Fear of missing out, fear of being offline and fear of being out of mobile contact.
All of these anxious conditions are apparently related to our increasingly heavy reliance on our smartphones.
If you find yourself checking and rechecking your phone for messages then the science suggests that this sort of compulsion is as a result of our neurotransmitters being overactive. We get sent the uncomfortable flight or fight messages contained in norepinephrine and cortisol. Not exactly the message we were looking for.
In his book The Distracted Mind, Larry Rosen outlines the complexity of disentangling ourselves from what he calls an "affliction" of dependence on smartphone use.
He argues that we need to take an inventory of our habits. Consider:
• Where do you keep your phone? A heavy user will have it in their hand or very close to hand.
• How do you feel if your phone is in another room?
• When you are at dinner with friends or family, where do you put your phone?
• Do you make sure your phone is by you as you go to sleep?
If you find yourself waiting for that text so that you can feel reassured that you are loved - only to feel the cycle starting all over again very quickly - then it is probably time to talk to your partner about your mutual expectations of daily contact.
This will help the anxiety of expectation to settle, and, at the same time protect our precious brains from the neurotransmitters that can end up threatening our relationships with unwanted biochemical messages.
Jill Goldson is a relationship expert with over 25 years experience counselling couples, individuals and families.