We showed that the application of a soliton in a nonlinear coupler does not show a better switching performance than a Gaussian pulse, unlike what the existing theory expected. Like the Gaussian pulse, a soliton could also suffer distortion, broadening, or narrowing in a nonlinear directional coupler. In addition, by using a new normalized format the linearly coupled nonlinear Schrödinger equations were investigated. For the first time, we found that both the coupling behavior and the switching performance of pulses in a nonlinear coupler depend on the product of the coupling coefficient and the dispersion length. We also showed that for a given nonlinear coupler with a Gaussian-like or soliton-like pulse input, switching performance and whether a pulse breaks up or not mainly depend on the input pulse width, not the pulse shape.