Volume 25 Fifty Years of CRIL
Undergraduate Research Papers

Should U Rly Be Txtng Ur S/O: The Effect of the Texting Language on Romantic Relationships in the United States

Anya Berlova
University of Colorado Boulder
Published August 22, 2021
  • text messaging,
  • new media,
  • technologically mediated communication,
  • cell phone,
  • emoji


This paper examines the impact of phone-based communication and the language of texting on romantic relationships in the United States. Texting has become an integral aspect of romantic relationships for many young adults (Luo 2014), but expert opinion is divided on the subject. Certain studies have shown that texting may lead to “disconnect” and mixed signals, further amplified by the lack of “standardization in [emoji] deployment." Conversely, others have found that the similarity of mobile communication between partners may lead to “higher understanding” and greater relationship satisfaction, and emoji usage can be effective in cross-cultural engagement and as a signal of conversational and relational exclusivity. Through an analysis of research in media and relationships, the paper argues that the ambiguity presented by texting and phone-based communication can be dangerous, but can also contribute to powerful in-group and pro-social activity. If misused, the effect on romantic relationships can be adverse, so it is crucial that both partners are aware of the possible pitfalls to be able to navigate them with care.