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Sending Sweet Text Messages Enough This Valentine's Day? No, Says AT&T Survey
      02/09/09 03:17 PM

Cupid is doling out double doses of sweet nothings this year, according to a new survey commissioned by ATT Mobility and Consumer Markets that examines the role text and picture messaging will play in Valentine's Day celebrations. Here some interesting findings from the survey:

Among the key findings? Texting is complementing - not necessarily replacing - the displays of thoughtfulness typically associated with Valentine's Day. The survey found that of the 36 percent of texters who intend to send a text or picture message to celebrate the holiday, 67 percent also plan to send a traditional card.

"This Valentine's Day, couples seem to be planning to pull out all the stops and showing their affection on all fronts ? from flowers and chocolate to flirtatious texting," said Nicole Beland, relationship expert and author. "The survey also suggests that people will be wishing friends a happy Valentine's Day via text. What's interesting is that even though texting is easy and convenient, it's still viewed as meaningful."

The survey further revealed that among those who plan to send a text or picture message on Valentine's Day:

- Sixty-one percent plan to send a text message to someone with whom they're currently in a relationship, while another 35 percent plan to send a text message to a friend of family member.
- Forty percent plan to send five or more Valentine's Day text messages.

It's the Thought That Counts
Further, about half of texters surveyed (48 percent) felt that receiving a Valentine's Day text message would mean the same or more than getting a card. More than two-thirds of texters surveyed (68 percent) felt that receiving a Valentine's Day picture message would mean the same or more than getting a card.

Growing Trend
The survey findings underscore the growing popularity of text messaging. AT&T Mobility customers sent nearly 243 billion text messages in 2008, including nearly 80 billion text messages in the fourth quarter alone. That's up an astounding 176 percent from 2007, when the company reported nearly 88 billion text messages for the year. A Nielsen study released in September 2008 suggested that some consumers are now using their wireless phones more for texting than talking.

Previous poll data released by the company in the fall of 2008 identified some interesting patterns in how couples are using texting in relationships. That survey found that among unmarried texters in a relationship or dating:

* Sixty-seven percent have used text messaging to flirt.
* Thirty-four percent agreed they would be more comfortable on a first date if they received a text message beforehand.

But texting in relationships isn't without its challenges. In the same survey:

* Eighty-four percent of texters believe that text messages can sometimes be misunderstood by a date or suitor.
* Fifty-eight percent of texters have at least occasionally shown a friend a text message from a suitor to get his or her interpretation.

Rules of Engagement
As more couples use texting and picture messaging within their dating relationships, a few basic rules of engagement can set the right tone, according to Beland, who offers the following do's and don'ts:

* Do text sweet nothings. A short text during the day can make your significant other suddenly happier to see you when you get home.
* Do text long distance. Texting can create a surprising sense of connection because it's so immediate ? you can send messages the second they pop into your mind. Even though you're miles away, your partner feels right there.
* Do text before a first date. Keep predate communication light and fun. Ask about his or her favorite bands, movies and places to hang out, and then use the info to kick-start conversation while you're sitting across the table.
* Do respond ASAP. Most people are never far from their mobile phone, so if you don't reply in a timely fashion, the other person will assume he or she is being ignored. In the 2008 survey, 24 percent of texters ranked a slow response among the biggest turnoffs when texting with a date or a spouse.
* Don't guess. If a message is cryptic or vague, wait until you're face to face with the sender to get clarity.
* Don't over-abbreviate. You want to be brief in a text message, but it's considered proper textiquette to stick with terms and symbols that most people know and use.
* Don't be rude or break bad news. Breaking up via text may be efficient, but it isn't classy ? and in a hyper-connected culture, a bad reputation can spread fast.
* Don't text angry. Sure you can express general frustration with a "Grrr ..." or an "Ugh," but pick up the phone to hash things out.


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