A Dash of Data

Fun-sized bites of data analysis

How Text Messages Change from Dating to Marriage


Way back in October 2008, my now husband and I went on our first date. On our one year anniversary, his gift to me was a Word doc of all of our text messages since our first date (what he likes to refer to as #thegiftofdata). This was especially high tech back in the day (given that we both had feature phones) and what I considered to be the most thoughtful gift ever (given that we are both nerds).

To celebrate our six year anniversary, I decided to take his present to the next level. I took a look at all of our text messages from our first year of dating and compared them with our text messages from the past year as an engaged couple and then newlyweds. I started by looking at the words we used in our text messages six years ago versus present day.


First of all, we can clearly see that my husband has an obsession with the word “home”. As for me, my early twenties self frequently started conversations with the term “hey”, and more recently I seem to have decided to no longer greet my husband, but instead agree with most of the things he texts me.

I then looked at the frequency of specific terms we used in our text messages when we started dating compared to the past year.


Our conversations changed from “hey, what’s up?” to “ok, sounds good”. We stopped saying each other’s names in our text messages. We don’t say in “love” as much anymore. Several words stayed relatively consistent over the years though, such as “home” and “dinner”. I took a look at the actual text messages that contained these words, and found that although the terms stayed the same, the context they were used in actually changed over time.


The main difference is that while we were dating, we didn’t see each other every day, so a lot of our communication had to happen via text. We’d often message the other person to see what they were doing or tell them that we were thinking of them. As a married couple, since we’re together all the time, we set up date nights and say sweet things to each other in person, so texting is mostly used to confirm logistics or share random thoughts.

Since the content of our text messages changed so much, I decided to look and see if the time of day we’d send text messages to each other changed as well. I focused on the messages we sent each other during the month after our first date, our engagement and our wedding.


While we were dating, we started thinking about each other around 3pm in the afternoon and we’d send each other text messages until 3am in the morning. As a married couple, our texting schedule has pretty much flipped. We text all through the workday and never at night.


We see the same story here. As a new couple, since we were apart the majority of the time, we had to check in with the other person every now and then, especially during the evening and late at night when we had no idea who they were with! It was also to tell the other person that we were out late doing something cool without them… and wishing they were there, of course.

As a committed couple, the only time of the day that we aren’t together is during the workday, so that’s when we text. We know exactly where the other person is each evening and if we’re doing something cool, it’s likely that we’re in it together and telling each other about it face to face.

Overall, our text messages started out very flirty and personal. Since we were new in our relationship, we made sure the things we said were interesting and thoughtful. As our relationship progressed, we spent more time together and got more comfortable with each other. Our text messages became more predictable, but only because all of the unpredictable things were said in person. We no longer have to text “I love you” from a distance in the middle of the night. I can now roll over, snuggle with my husband and whisper it into his ear.

To my husband: happy anniversary and I hope you enjoy your 2014 version of #thegiftofdata.


  1. Brilliant! Would love to see the app used for the analysis! Cheers

    • I used SMS Backup & Restore to export the text messages from my phone in XML format and then imported them into Excel. Hope that helps!

  2. Hiya,

    I work for Press Association and we would love to be able to use your infographics and information from this project for a piece please?

    Hope to be hearing from you soon,


  3. Oh my heart!! Love this so much!!

  4. Such a good read. Sure everyone enjoyed every bit of it. Reading this would make someone reminisce their early stage of relationship. Thank you! 😀

  5. This is amazing, and frankly, such a sweet idea!
    I’m not going to lie here, it’s so good I want to steal your husband’s idea and start the same tradition with my boyfriend. Our 1st anniversary is coming up soon, mind sharing how you did this?

    • Hi Lou – The first step is to export the text message data from your phone. I have an Android and used a free app called SMS Backup & Restore. This will export the data in XML format which you can then import into Excel to slice and dice. I used Wordle to create the word clouds and Excel / Tableau for the other visualizations. Good luck!

  6. I love statistics, so for me this is awsome! Congrats!

  7. Generally I don’t read article on blogs, however I would like
    to say that this write-up very forced me to try and do so!
    Your writing taste has been amazed me. Thank you, very nice article.

  8. Hi!
    I found your website and your very interesting and innovative analysis through an article posted on the website of FranceInfo, the national French Radio 🙂
    You’re getting famous 🙂
    Thanks anyway for your post.

  9. I like how you put data analysis into something sweet and thoughtful for your relationship. Amazing!

  10. Hah. Lovely article! Thanks for sharing your data 😉

    PS: Good luck with the Blog! I instantly subscribed.

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