This post is sponsored by Visible. For $40 per month, you get unlimited messages, minutes, data and hotspot, at speeds up to 5 Mbps — it’s enough for whatever a year of messages with your S.O. holds.
My partner and I recently celebrated our one-year dating anniversary. We had a nice dinner, reminisced, and tried to remember what our first Tinder conversation was about. But memories are an old man’s game. In both our pockets we had four-inch electronic devices with a year full of perfectly recorded relationship data, and I wanted it.
I decided I was going to do a deep-dive into our text messages. From day one* to day 365. I wondered what insights I could glean as a partner and about our relationship as a whole.
Sliding Into Our DMs
The first thing was figuring out how to do it. I found a program called Touch Copy that allows you to pull conversation transcripts in different formats. I chose TextEdit and Excel, because I knew both could be useful when searching for and aggregating words. The capture revealed some initial — and fairly shocking — numbers. My S.O. and I sent a combined 26,266 messages over 365 days, or about 72 messages a day. We also wrote over half-a-million words, a fact that brought me to the next phase of my research.
Step two was to dig into which words we wrote the most. A quick Google search introduced me to WordCounter, which I used to pull the top 100 words used by frequency (excluding small words like “of,” “and,” “it’s,” etc.).
The number-one word is a wash. Every message is labelled as iMessage. But the second one, while seemingly worthless at first glance, turned out to be important. We sent over 21k or 80 percent of our texts in the afternoon and evening. This makes logistical sense given I go to bed before midnight most nights, and my partner usually gets up around 9:30 a.m., so the brunt of our conversations exist in the 12 p.m.-to-11 p.m. range.
The third most popular word was “sent.” Another insight! I sent 15,785 messages and received 10,513, meaning I wrote about 50 percent more messages. If you had asked me who sent more texts, I would have told you it was pretty equal, so this was unexpected. Apparently I am much more of a scribe. I do tend to write more staccato, and my partner is more prone to paragraphs, so maybe that’s part of the reason. When I told my S.O. about the discrepancy, he was surprised. He also agreed that he probably just sends more words all at once, and that the content overall is equal.
Our fourth most-used word was “March,” which means we sent the most texts in March, followed by January and February. Since we started dating at the end of March 2018 and we definitely only sent a handful of messages then, we must have sent a ton in March 2019. Overall I saw a direct increase in number of messages each month we were together.
The only month that didn’t show up in the top 100 words was August. We spent almost a week together that month, so there was no need for texting. Then my S.O. spent another week camping in the woods with no cell service, so there was no possibility of texting.
Having The FIRST Laugh
It made me smile to see our communication increase as time went on. We were steadily becoming more present in each other’s lives. That was something I struggled with in the beginning. I hadn’t ever been seriously committed before, and I imagined that it would be overwhelming. But because it happened gradually, it was actually pretty seamless. I also felt a bit relieved. There’s something comforting about having factual proof that you’re getting closer to your S.O. everyday — it made me feel more secure. I was now excited to see what all those texts were about. So I looked further down the list.
The first written word to come up was “lol” (8), LOL. We chuckled audibly a total of 3,325 times, or 9.2 times a day. It’s like that old saying: the couple that laughs together does it over three thousand times a year. Or something like that. I searched for the first “lol” in our exchanges.
It took place on April 1, 2018, a mere week into dating. I sent it in response to my future S.O. accidentally texting me instead of his friend. I had the first laugh — that is if you don’t count “haha,” which he sent on March 27. “Haha” came in sixty-third on the list, appearing 937 times. Apparently we like to joke around. That makes sense given a lot of our relationship is based off of humor. I consider myself a much less funny but also much more still alive Leslie Nielsen. My partner is completely dry-witted, and he has a dark sense of humor. The fact that I find him genuinely laugh-out-loud hilarious is one of the things that most attracts me to him.
Sorry, Not Sorry
The next few words down the list were fairly typical filler words. Interestingly enough “sorry” (36) was typed 589 times. So we apologized an average of 1.6 times per day. So much for love meaning you never having to say you’re sorry. We’ve only had a few fights over the year, so this number felt high. Upon investigation, though, most of the apologies were expressions of sympathy, not acceptances of blame.
And even when we did apologize to each other, it was rarely about anything serious.
Of course, a couple of them did seem to follow actual tiffs.
We wrote both “going” and “sleep” 522 times, but “going to sleep” was only logged 19 times. “Going to bed” hit slightly harder at 24 times. Often when I say “goodnight,” which came up 105 times, my partner responds with “sleep well” (120 times). It was fun to see these patterns forming.
Fifty-sixth on the list was “cute.” We said it 430 times. It was more if you included “cuteee” (35 times) and “cuteeeeee” (4 times), etc. Cute is our preferred term of endearment. I’m “cute girl” (110 times) and he’s “cute boi” (33 times). We don’t call each other by any traditional pet names like “honey,” “dear,” or “babe,” so this is our thing. The first time he called me “cute girl” in a text was on September 10, about six months into dating. I said my version back on September 16. I can’t remember when it first started IRL. I’ve never been in a long-term relationship before, but he has, so I once asked if he ever did the “you’re cute” thing with previous partners. It just felt so insanely personal to us, but at the same time, it’s a very common phrase. He told me that although he’s said it, it was never the “thing it is with us.” I doubt that in another LTR I’d be able to call my partner cute to the same extent either. When you say something an average of 1.5 times a day to a person via text alone, it just gets too tied to them.
There were a few extras tidbits I picked up in my data dive. We got “curious” and “excited,” but not as much as we were just “done.” We are more negative than positive apparently, given we said “hate” 286 times and “love” only 139 times. But we also said “mean” slightly less (426 times) than “nice” (435 times). We used the word “sex” 106 times, which is probably about equal to the amount of times we had it over the course of the year.
A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words
Moving beyond words, we sent 450 photos to each other. Seven of them were NSFW. I sent the first of them in September of 2018, so it took a solid six months before we started sexting. Out of those, I sent six and he sent one. I think that’s mostly because of who was asking for them. We’ve always been really respectful of consent. Even now we are good at getting permission before we get physical. So if I sent a picture he likely asked me for it, and I definitely asked for the one he sent me as well. Most photos were completely innocent selfies or screenshots, and I sent the majority of the pictures overall (I’m just a visual communicator, you know?).
So far I’ve only done a basic search of the top 100 words, but there is still a ton of data ripe for analysis. Every word, all 500,000 of them, is information waiting to be translated. I used this project as a tool to show how my partner and I got closer as time went on, but it could also help someone understand the decline of a partnership, work through intimacy issues, and figure out how they deal with certain scenarios. I encourage trying it with your own S.O., family, or friends. But remember, while numbers are helpful, when it comes to an emotional relationship, they don’t always tell the whole story.
*Technically this is the recorded data from our second date onward for a year, since I rarely save texts or contacts after one Tinder date. Additionally, we had an unusually large gap between the first and second outings (due to a bout of mono on my end), so we count our official one-year from the day of our second date.