How to Better Communicate with Your Dating Partner in the Digital Era: Should You Text or Talk?

In modern digital life, romantic partners have different means and possibilities to communicate. In their relationships, they can talk to each other in person or just communicate by exchanging text messages.

It can be hard to decide whether to text or meet in person, especially when it comes to romantic relationships where communication is important. What is a better way to initiate and maintain a relationship with your partner? The preference for texting over face-to-face conversation may not be solely about convenience but rather about the quality of a relationship.

A New Study on Dating Communication

Anthony Chen from the University of California, Irvine, and his colleague Catalina Toma recently conducted a study where they looked at how the trade-offs between these different ways of communicating may be closely linked to the fears people experience in romantic situations.

Researchers conducted a survey of 257 young men and women to find out which way of communicating—texting or in-person meetings—they preferred in an exclusive dating relationship. The authors presented a variety of scenarios, ranging from ordinary ones like arranging a date or exchanging daily information to more difficult ones such as conflicts, profound discussions about the future of the relationship, or even the difficult circumstances of breaking up.

The Handy Convenience of Text Editing

Researchers revealed a distinct pattern in their findings: individuals with higher levels of social anxiety consistently favored texting over in-person conversations of all kinds. More socially anxious people preferred texting over face-to-face interaction, even for uninteresting conversations. But when it came to handling difficult conversations and breakups, their preference for texting was particularly noticeable when compared to those who were less socially anxious.

Texting gives socially anxious people a better sense of control over their communication than face-to-face interactions. Texting enables them to edit their messages until they present the version of themselves that they feel most comfortable with. This accounts for at least some of their preference for texting.

This “editable” feature of digital communication becomes increasingly valuable and provides a lifeline for individuals with social anxiety as the likelihood of emotional discomfort in the conversation increases. It acts as a barrier against the vulnerability and immediacy of in-person interactions.

For people with social anxiety, it’s not just about avoiding awkward silences or not knowing what to say in a difficult situation. It’s also about coming up with a response that makes them feel safe and shows how they want to be seen.

People Are Still Longing for In-Person Communication

What is interesting is that the authors also discovered that even with the increasing availability of digital communication, such as texting, many women and men still prefer in-person interaction about some themes and in some special circumstances. Among those topics are conflict, the possibility of emotional harm, or talking about a possible breakup.

This disposition implies that, at their core, people understand the special importance of face-to-face communication in forging deeper bonds and understanding—something that text messages are unable to adequately express.

Why We Communicate the Way We Do in This Digital Age

This study sheds light on how people in the digital age initiate and maintain romantic relationships. Women and men use digital tools in a variety of ways, depending on their motivations, comfort zones, and interpersonal circumstances.

Many people typically prefer face-to-face communication, indicating a shared desire for more meaningful, in-depth connections.

Nonetheless, the deliberate use of texting by men and women with social anxiety reveals a complex landscape in which technology can serve as both a bridge and a barrier in romantic relationships.

This contrast between the convenience of digital technology and the need for human contact emphasizes that personal connection and understanding are still necessary in this digital age. Instead, modern digital possibilities modify the routes that individuals take to satisfy those needs. Understanding these subtleties enables people to thoughtfully incorporate technology into their lives. These new opportunities improve rather than degrade the quality of their relationships as they engage in romantic relationships in the digital age.

In Ghanaian Culture, Love Is Helping and Caring for Others

Many studies have shown that despite cross-cultural similarities, cultural conceptions of love vary across societies (see, for review, Karandashev, 2019; 2022). Culture influences how individuals experience and express love, as well as social norms prevalent among communities (Fiske & Taylor, 2013; Kaufmann, 2011).

For instance, individualistic cultures tend to value experience and expression of passionate love more, while collective cultures tend to value the experience and expression of companionate love more (Fiske & Taylor, 2013). Passionate love focuses on how love makes one feel, while companionate love focuses on feelings for and caring for others.

Love in the Cultures of Sub-Saharan Africa

In the collectivist societies of Sub-Saharan Africa, cultural norms associate love with experiences and expressions of affect towards others, social relationships, and material provisioning (Coe, 2011; Cornwall, 2002).

Love entails a commitment to sharing and reciprocity in social relationships, as well as the supply and allocation of material resources (Keefe, 2016). These qualities of love expression were referred to by researchers as “real love” (van Eerdewijk, 2006) and “materiality of care” (Coe, 2011).

Interdependent Life and Love in Ghanaian Communities

Ghana, a country in West Africa, presents an example of this conceptualization of love in its culture. A Ghanaian understanding of love entails meeting the needs of close others.

What are the origins of these cultural beliefs?

The majority of Ghanaians express their sense of identity through duty-based interpersonal interactions. Individuals are born into close-knit families that place a strong emphasis on socially required interpersonal responsibilities. Ghanaians care about preserving their interdependence in relationships and regard themselves as interdependent (Markus & Kitayama, 1991).

The allocation of resources is the fundamental basis of our daily existence. The extended family structure has historically provided support and care for both young people and the elderly. People must reciprocate obligations, duties, and responsibilities toward family members for this system of care to function effectively. Ghanaians show this facet of love through diverse social actions and interactions. Material expressions of love are valued in Ghana, sometimes, above emotional expressions of love (Coe, 2011).

The Impact of Christian Beliefs on Ghanaians’ Understanding of Love

Religious beliefs influence the notion of love among people of faith. They express their best human qualities based on the universal ethos of honesty, care, and brotherhood (Prince, Denis, & van Dijk, 2009).

Christianity is a major part of Ghana’s culture and has an impact on many people’s daily lives. How do Christian beliefs influence Ghanaian cultural understandings of love?

Christians make a distinction between eros love and agape love. A desire for something or someone drives eros love, whereas respect for and concern for others drives agape love. The eros type of love is self-oriented, focusing on benefits to the self, while the agape type of love is other-oriented, emphasizing benefits to the other person. Ghanaian Christian churches influence Ghanaian society’s conceptions of love by promoting love in relationships and family life.

What Did a Recent Study on Love in Ghana Show?

Researchers looked into how Christian Ghanaians view love in relation to family in a recent study on love in the West African nation of Ghana. Let’s look at some of the main themes that 61 participants—men and women aged 20 to 70—reported when anthropologists interviewed them (Osei-Tutu et al., 2018).

In a previous blog post on this site, I explained how Ghanaians express and fulfill their love by attending to the needs of those close to them.

Helping Others Who Are in Need

Among those others, informants mentioned friends, strangers, and elderly people. Many participants (70%) regarded love as providing help to individuals in need, including the elderly, friends, and even complete strangers. For example, participants stated:

… if you go out and you see an elderly person who is not even from your own family, if there is anything to assist them with, you help them. If you have the means to support them, you do as much as you can.

(51-year-old female)

Supposing a friend is having a problem, losing a loved one or in need of some money, you take care of it or give her something.

(37-year-old male)

If you think somebody needs your help and you have the means, either you know the person or don’t know the person, you should show the person love… either in kind, in physical terms.

(34-year-old male)

As one can see, the Ghanaian Christian participants expressed their beliefs about agape love in their responses. They considered acts of love, such as fulfilling familial and neighborly responsibilities, to be the most important expressions of love. This aligns with Christian principles that prioritize compassion and the well-being of both one’s own family and others.

Love Is Care

Many Christian Ghanaian respondents (48%) in the study viewed love primarily as caring actions towards others, such as “showing concern.” Participants shared the following examples and provided comments:

…in school I’ve made a lot of friends… sometimes when you’re not well, they call…. When you’re on holidays, this long vac [vacation], they’ll be calling and checking on… So that’s love.

(21-year-old female)

…when you are sick they [people] visit you in the house, when you are promoted they show appreciation they congratulate you; it’s a way of showing love.

(40-year-old female)

Other Expressions of Love Among Ghanaians

Several participants (10%) mentioned kissing (children), hugging (children and husband), and touching (husband). Furthermore, a small percentage (7%) claimed that love entails openness, transparency, and not keeping secrets. Only a few participants mentioned these, so the authors did not assign them to a specific theme.

Love as Agape in Ghanaian Christian Culture

It is worth noting that these Ghanaian Christian participants made few references to eros (a type of passionate love) and instead emphasized agape (kind and caring actions toward others). They described love from a Judeo-Christian perspective, as illustrated by biblical examples. These definitions of love go beyond close relationships and intersect with the definition of what a good Christian or person should be.

Ghanaian Love Meets the Needs of Close Others

Modern Western, educated, industrialized, rich, and democratic cultures commonly perceive material relationships and love relationships as existing in distinct and even opposing realms. However, in numerous other societies, expressing love typically involves providing material resources to family members and other close individuals (Karandashev, 2019; 2022).

Such a cultural understanding of love is consistent with patterns of love that researchers have documented in many parts of Africa. In all these cultural contexts, love implies material and social arrangements (e.g., Coe, 2011; Cornwall, 2002; Osei-Tutu et al., 2018; van Eerdewijk, 2006).

A Recent Study on Love in Ghana

In their recent study of love in Ghana, a country in West Africa, researchers investigated how Ghanaians think about love in the context of family. Let us consider some of the major themes that 61 participants, men and women from 20 to 70 years old, whom researchers interviewed expressed about their understanding and experience of love (Osei-Tutu et al., 2018).

How do contemporary Ghanaian Christians conceptualize love?

The major themes of the interview data showed that people express love by meeting the material needs of their children, spouses, parents, and close relatives. They also love helping others in need and giving affectionate care. Community-based and maintenance-based love seems to be how Ghanaians show their love to the elderly, friends, and strangers.

In this article, I present only one aspect of the Ghanaian cultural understanding of love that the authors revealed in their analysis of interview data. This is an understanding of love as fulfilling the needs of close others.

Love as Meeting the Needs of Children, Spouses, Parents, and Close Relatives

Approximately 96% of the participants interpreted love as fulfilling responsibilities towards their children, spouses, parents, and other immediate family members (such as siblings). These social obligations are fulfilled through

  • the provision of financial and in-kind assistance, such as food, clothing, and shelter,
  • emergency aid,
  • personal presence, such as visiting the ill or attending funerals,
  • offering verbal support, such as advice or encouragement.

Here are some examples:

For our parents, they’re number one [priority]. As I’m staying here my mother is … 90 something [years old]. I used to go there; the least is twice a week or even more than that….When I’m going there, you know money matters. You send some little thing.

 (70-year-old female)

I also show love by supporting family when they need me. Uhm, I also show love when I make sure that my other siblings are also well taken care of.

(29-year-old male)

In their analysis, four sub-themes of the love experience stood out to anthropologists: The sub-themes they identified were

  • (A) need identification,
  • (B) need anticipation,
  • (C) need provision, and
  • (D) need remittances.

Love as Need Identification

The subtheme of need identification involves getting close to people by visiting or calling them to find out what they need:

Sometimes you see because you have [sic] married they [parents] don’t want to put pressure on you. So they’ll prefer, even if they are dying, they’ll keep it to themselves. But you find out daddy why this, or mummy why are you doing this…. You do a general check up and make sure they are in good health. Then they’ll know that oh my son is caring for me.

(34-year-old male)

Love as Need Anticipation

Need anticipation in love entails determining people’s needs and meeting them without their express request or prompting:

There was this instance and I bought eh sandals …ladies sandals to my wife not knowing she was really in need of it, expecting me to do that. So I called and she said how do you get to know that I need this at this point in time. She was, I mean, glad.

(37-year-old male)

Love as Need Provision

The subtheme of love as need provision implies giving financial or in-kind support to meet the needs of family members. Support is provided in the form of clothing, food, and shelter, depending on the recipient’s developmental needs. Furthermore, meeting children’s needs entailed providing educational necessities such as school supplies.

For spouses, providing “chop money” implies meeting their needs. “Chop money” is the custom when a husband gives money to his wife or when parents give money to their children. Spouses express their love for each other as a need provision in the form of companionship and meeting other needs.

Love as Remittances

Participants also said that they provide remittances as an expression of love by giving monetary support to family and parents as a regular income source:

As a husband I’m supposed, as much as I’m supposed to fend [for] my family, make sure there’s food, make sure there’s shelter, make sure there’s clothes.

(30-year-old male)

For parents, sometimes let’s say we’re working. When you earn salary and you didn’t give anything to your parents that means you doesn’t [sic] love them.

(64-year-old female)

While the majority of participants emphasized the significance of fulfilling needs, a small number indicated that this demonstration of affection is contingent upon certain conditions. For instance, some propose that remittances should be affordable unless there is an urgent situation:

If you’re working, I think at the end of every month you should be able to give them [parents] some money as well as you buy some ingredients and other things they may need at home.

(23-year-old male)

Communal Expressions of Love in Ghanaian Cultures

One can see that the expressions of love among Ghanaians are largely communal in nature. The distribution of basic material resources is the primary way in which people express love. Both cultural factors and the economic conditions of everyday life influence the experience and expression of love for men and women in Ghana.

This conceptualization of love aligns with research among Ghanaian transnational families. In Ghanaian culture, the allocation of material resources serves as an indication of love and affection.

Such an understanding of love means that migrant parents who leave their children behind in Ghana can continue to be good parents by sending remittances. Furthermore, they may be considered better parents than caregivers who stay and are poorer (Coe, 2011; Osei-Tutu et al., 2018).

The Indian Myth of Kamadeva, the Hindu God of Love

Many modern Western symbols of love date back to the early Greeks and Romans. Eros was the Greek god of love, while Cupid was the Roman god of love and desire.

The image of a chubby Cupid aiming love arrows at unwary people’s hearts appears to be a typical Western symbol of love. Americans and Western Europeans can widely see him on greeting cards and chocolate boxes on Valentine’s Day.

What about Eastern cultures, such as Hinduism? Does Cupid trick them too? Or do they have their own “Cupid”? People from all over the world, especially Indo-European cultures, have sacred stories that are a lot like Hindu stories about gods.

Who Is Kamadeva, the Hindu God of Love?

In Indic traditions, Kamadeva represents the Hindu equivalent of Cupid and Eros. Kamadeva is known as the Indian or Vedic Cupid. He is the Hindu god of love, desire, and infatuation.

Jeffery D. Long, Professor of Religion and Asian Studies at Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania, USA, explored the old Indian scriptures about Kamadeva.

Kamadeva is the god of desire and love. The word Kama comes from Sanskrit, meaning “sensual desire.“ He is accompanied by his wife, Rati, a goddess of love and sexual passion.

Different from Cupid, however, Kamadeva is depicted not as a plumpy cherub but rather as a handsome young man who rides on a majestic green parrot named Suka. He is riding a parrot’s back with a sugarcane bow, a honeybee bowstring, and flower arrow points. Kamadeva, the Hindu Cupid, also shoots his love darts into people’s hearts.

This is how the Rigveda, the most ancient of Hindu scriptures dating back at least 3,000 years, describes Kamadeva.

Each of these elements of his description represents the inherent sweetness of love. Additionally, they elicit the spirit of the spring season, when new life arises in the world. Suka, the parrot of Kamadeva, symbolizes both the spring season and the notion of love, as parrots frequently live in pairs.

The Tensions of Hindu Love

The stories of love in Hindu culture illustrate the tension between the most deeply held Hindu values. Love is a highly valued belief, especially in the context of families.

The highest ideal of life, however, is liberation from the cycle of rebirth. To reach this goal, spiritual people must give up worldly attachments, including love relationships. They should seek meditative solitude instead.

Shiva, a highly esteemed Hindu deity, embodies this tension by combining the qualities of a devoted yogi with a loving husband and father.

What Happens When Kamadeva Intervenes Life with His Love Arrows?

One time, during a period of intense meditation, Kamadeva was going to pierce his heart with an arrow. Then Shiva, angered by the interruption of his meditation, blasted the unfortunate god of love with a powerful beam of energy emanating from his renowned third eye.

Actually, Kamadeva’s intention was good. It was not meant to whimsically pierce Lord Shiva’s heart. According to the Indian story, a dangerous demon, known as Taraka, endangered the world. None of the gods could defeat this terrifying demon.

Only Kartikeya, the son of Lord Shiva, and his wife, the Mother Goddess Parvati, could defeat this demon, according to a prophecy. However, Kartikeya had not yet been conceived. Shiva was the patron deity and embodiment of yoga, so he unlikely could do this anytime soon given his dedication to meditation. So, the Hindu gods sent Kamadeva to do just that: to make Shiva fall in love with Parvati and wake him up from his meditation so he could have the child who would save the world.

Shiva demonstrates mercy despite his proneness to anger. Heartbroken over the death of her beloved, Rati begged Shiva to bring Kamadeva back to life, which he did. Following this, Shiva and Parvati had a son named Kartikeya, who later killed the demon.

What Was the Message of This Story?

It says that erotic love is important in all religions, even ones that value asceticism and meditation as ways to reach the ultimate goal of freeing people from the cycle of rebirth and its pain. Not only is Kamadeva a fun thing to look at, but it also does good things in the world.

Why Are So Many Americans of Millennials and Generation Z Unhappy?

There has been a recent decline in the level of happiness and well-being among the American population, and young men and women from Millennials and Generation Z are leading the downward spiral. American Millennials and Generation Z are currently the most unhappy in the United States, according to a new survey.

What the 2024 World Happiness Report Revealed

The World Happiness Report of 2024 revealed that self-reported data from those under the age of 30 knocked the United States out of the top 20 happiest countries for the first time since the annual report’s inception in 2012.

It is worth noting that young people in Canada and other English-speaking countries also reported a decrease in happiness.

Different from this pessimistic tendency, young women and men in many other countries have an increase in their feelings of well-being. The report revealed that young people in central and eastern Europe, as well as certain regions of sub-Saharan Africa, experienced a rise in their level of happiness.

We still don’t fully understand why young people in these regions experience a different trend from those in the U.S., Canada, and other English-speaking countries. Their findings, however, indicate that this declining trend in happiness is not global.

What Makes the Current Young Americans Unhappy?

Key factors that significantly contributed to the rapid decline included young people’s dissatisfaction with their living conditions, social support systems, diminishing trust in the government, and a perception of reduced personal freedom in making life decisions.

As journalist Christopher Cann from “USA TODAY” commented, young Americans said that they were unhappy and disappointed because of the economy, the cost of housing, student loan debt, political polarization, social media, climate change, and the war in Gaza.

Women and men of Millennials and Generation Z Gen mentioned that several things, from high rent and debt to the comparison culture on social media, had left them feeling tired and unhappy.

Researchers agree that the trends in the decline in the feeling of happiness among young people in the USA, Canada, and some other English-speaking countries are worrisome.

A combination of factors, rather than a single cause, can be responsible for the decrease in life satisfaction among young men and women. Individuals’ physical well-being, academic performance, involvement in community activities, and financial income correlate with their happiness and satisfaction levels.

Among other things, an epidemic of loneliness makes young Americans unhappy. Experts have also expressed concern about an epidemic of loneliness among teenagers and young adults in America. This psychological experience has surged alongside an increase in virtual schooling and remote work, particularly after the COVID-19 pandemic.

What Can We Expect in the Future?

According to researchers, one of the most reliable indicators of adult happiness is the level of happiness experienced during childhood and adolescence. This correlation raises concerns that American teens and young adults’ discontent may only worsen as they get older.

Typically, the level of happiness is highest among young individuals and decreases to its lowest point during middle age (40–60) before gradually increasing again as individuals approach retirement and old age—a phenomenon commonly referred to as the U-shape.

Over the course of several years, experts have observed a gradual decrease in variation in the United States. However, this year, the extent of this decrease has become extreme and very recognizable.

As Laurie Santos, a psychology professor at Yale University, stated:

“Honestly, I look at these data with terror, not just because of what they reveal about our country right now, but what they will reveal about our country in the future unless we change this pattern”

What Can Be Done to Make People Happier?

Both external (socioeconomic) and internal (personal) factors influence how men and women feel and experience life—happy or unhappy.

It is evident that there are several economic and social changes that society can implement to support the healthier and happier development of young women and men.

Nevertheless, young people have their own ability to improve their own well-being. Extensive research has consistently demonstrated that people can enhance their satisfaction in life and happiness by engaging in certain behaviors. These include increasing face-to-face social interactions, practicing self-compassion, and allocating dedicated time away from work, school, and other responsibilities.

The Power of an Individual Choice

Here’s an example from Christopher Cann about what young Americans believe causes them to be unhappy.

Ashlie Marchant, a second-year student at the University of Central Florida, recognized social media as the primary catalyst for discontentment in her own life and the lives of her friends. She deleted TikTok from her mobile device. She attempts to resist the compulsion to scroll on the screen.

“I’m trying to lean off of social media. It’s so easy to get caught up in it, and all it does is make me unproductive and upset.”

Marchant, age of 20 years, said.

Marchant preferred to read a paperback novel while sitting in a public park. She expressed her adoption of tangible forms of media, such as film photography and vinyl records.