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Texting presents challenges to romantic relationships

Before there were cell phones, people had to call their boyfriend or girlfriend from a house phone, write them a letter or wait to see them in person before getting the chance to talk.

Now, however, it is easier than ever to send a quick message in the form of a text.

A 2007 Census Bureau  study showed the number of text messages sent per month that year more than doubled in 2008, but the average cell phone call length declined to 2.3 minutes.

The last time average call times were that low, cell phones were not easily accessible to everyday consumers, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Some students said while sending text messages is convenient, it lacks the emotion that phone calls or conversations in person have.

Some even said using text messaging as the primary source of communication with a significant other can be detrimental to a relationship.

Freshman nursing major Katie Conoboy said she uses text messaging in her current relationship as well as in a previous long-distance relationship.

“In a long-distance relationship, the text messages felt forced,” Conoboy said. “It was better talking on the phone because I could hear the emotion in what my boyfriend was saying. You can’t get that through a text.”

Conoboy said misunderstood text messages have the potential to lead to fighting.

“There are things I would never say in person that I have said through text,” she said. “It’s tough to tell when someone is kidding. It has led to fights in my relationships, and my boyfriend and I always tend to fight through text.”

Freshman public relations major Mackie Atteberry said there is a difference between a high amount of text messaging with friends and with a significant other.

“With friends, it’s more casual,” she said. “You can rely on a lot of text messaging and still maintain a good relationship. But I would want to talk to my boyfriend at least over the phone so I can have that more personal relationship. When you are actually speaking to someone, you can evoke more emotion.”

Atteberry said in long-distance relationships especially, text messages cut out the message that really matters.

“If you are dating someone far away and you solely rely on texts, you lose that emotion,” she said.

Peoria area sales manager for U.S. Cellular Randall Van Middlesworth said he has noticed the trend toward text messaging in Peoria as well.

“More and more customers are coming in looking for text message packages,” he said.

Middlesworth said he thinks young people have had a lot of influence in the text movement.

“Especially with college students, this is a great way to get a hold of them because they have such busy schedules,” he said. “The whole family ends up texting to keep in contact with them.”

On a broader level, Middlesworth said people use cell phones now to stay connected, with the addition of phones capable of providing Facebook and MySpace applications.

Even as phones and communicating become increasingly more instantaneous, some students believe nothing replaces a genuine face-to-face discussion.

“Texting is easy, but you have to cut down on so much to fit your message into a text,” Atteberry said. “It becomes really impersonal.”

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