How has your relationship with your partner or spouse changed over the years? A peek at the text messages you've sent your loved one may reveal more than you realize.
Alice Zhao recently analyzed her 6-year relationship with her now-husband through text messages, from their first date in October 2008 up to their past year as newlyweds. She reviewed a number of elements in the texts, including specific words used and the time of day they messaged each other.
Her findings reflected a transition in communication from romantic to realistic: Texts once ending with "sweet dreams" had morphed into inquires about "what's for dinner?"
Among other things, Zhao, a 27-year-old data scientist from Chicago, discovered that she and her partner used each other’s names less in texts as the years went on, and that they continued to use words like “love” and “home,” but the context in which they were used changed.
Another finding: Zhao and her husband stopped texting each other all night, mainly because they didn't need to once they got married.
“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," Zhao wrote in a post about her analysis on her blog, A Dash of Data.
"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."
Zhao conducted the project as a gift to her husband to celebrate their 6-year anniversary, but her analysis has since gone viral and she told TODAY.com she's been “overwhelmed” by the response.
“People have sent me messages saying that they can relate to our story and that they’re inspired to do the analysis themselves,” she said by email. “I think the insights I found make a lot of sense when you think about it, and it was really cool that the patterns just emerged from the data.”
Zhao said she's also glad her analysis has directed many people to her passion project.
"The goal of my blog is to combine data analysis with fun and personal topics, and I'm extremely happy that so many people found it entertaining to read," she said.
TODAY anchors definitely found it enlightening — and reflective of reality.
"If you even just look at the cards you used to get, I feel like the cards were always much more handwritten and more personal. Now it’s like 'Love you. Have another great birthday," Natalie Morales said Thursday during TODAY's Take.
TODAY producer Adam Miller revealed that six years ago as he flew on a 13-hour flight from New York to Beijing to cover the Summer Olympics, his then-girlfriend-now-wife packed him 13 letters for him to read on the plane — one for each hour.
But that was then; this is now. "I can’t remember the last time I’ve gotten a letter from her since then," he said.
Tamron Hall replied that the package of letters she gave him should be enough. "She doesn’t have to do anything forever now."
Al Roker agreed, noting that Miller is currently expecting a child: "She's having a baby. Until you bring life into the world, you’ve got nothing."
Meanwhile, Willie Geist, who minutes earlier showed off the last text he sent his wife (which said, "Love you"), was clearly impressed by Miller's story.
"I got to step up my game," he said.