• Robert Clarke MFT

When in doubt, don't text!


Texting is great. It makes it easy to coordinate details like, where and when you’re going to meet, or what to buy at the grocery store, or as a reminder of your dentist appointment. There is no doubt that texting is useful and saves time.


The problem is that we get in the habit of texting for everything. It might be good to send a partner or friend little love notes or birthday wishes, but when you use it for everything, texting can easily lead to misunderstandings. It can even make it hard to tell if someone is serious or joking about something. You can try using emoticons, but more than anything else, your mood when you read a text changes how you interpret it. Getting a text that says something like, “You’re annoying me!” can feel like an attack if you’re in a defensive mood, but could be funny if you’re not.

In some cases, texts can be useful to restart a conversation if you and your partner aren’t talking. And some people use text to resolve awkwardness that they don’t feel comfortable doing in person. If you have developed a protocol or habits with your friends or partner, it might be useful to text things like, “Can we talk?” or “I still love you, I’m just a little upset.” or “I’m sorry that we had that argument.”

I don’t know how often clients tell me about misunderstandings that they have had over text or email. And once a misunderstanding starts, it’s hard to recover with text alone. I strongly urge clients to have serious conversations by phone or video or in person. My general rule is that texting is ok as long as neither party is upset, but that means that you have to set up a protocol so that if either of you gets upset, you can text something like, “I’m getting a little upset. Let’s continue on the phone.” If you don’t have a protocol in place, the other person might easily misinterpret a text and react unexpectedly.

Bottom lines:

1. When in doubt don’t text. Instead, talk on the phone, via video, or in person.

2. Don’t use texts for serious conversations.

3. Always keep in mind that texts are easy to misinterpret. Your mood (or the mood of the recipient) affects how texts are interpreted.

4. Set up a protocol so that you either of you can request switching the conversation to audio, video, or in person.

Welcome to my blog!

My posts are purely my own thoughts and opinions and are not meant to give you advice, but instead to give you insight into some of my thinking. My hope is that you will find useful information here as you navigate your life and relationships.

© 2020 by Robert Clarke MFT. CA License #91187

Couples Therapy. Marriage Counseling. Communication, Intimacy, Conflict Resolution,  EMDR.  LGBTQ Affirming, Gay Friendly, Transgender Allied.  Burbank / Toluca Lake, CA.  *Click here for Client Portal*