Have you ever been texting with your partner, and in your gut, you just knew something was off? They weren't saying they were upset, but you just sensed there was a problem. Maybe you can't quite put your finger on it, or maybe they deny it, but still, you just can’t help but think, “Is he mad at me?” If you’re not sure how to tell if a guy is mad at you through text or how to tell if a girl is mad at you through text, then you may want to keep an eye out for certain texting signals, which may indicate they have a bone to pick with you.
Even with the liberal use of emojis, so much can still manage to be lost in translation over text. It's ridiculously easy to misinterpret messages, or to miss the subtle cues your partner is sending (or trying not to send). Rather than go further down that spiral, I called in the experts. According to them, there are some texting behaviors that can let you know when your partner is upset, even if they haven’t yet voiced their annoyance. And if you notice any of these seven texting signals, then you may want to ask whether something is amiss.
They Stop Replying Quickly
According to author and relationship expert Susan Winter, if your partner is typically really good about getting back to you in a timely fashion but has suddenly started to take a longer time to reply, then it’s a sign that something is wrong — especially if that lag time has grown to the point where you’re left wondering. “That's the point,” says Winter. “It's a cue for you to notice they're upset.”
Maria Avgitidis — CEO of matchmaking service Agape Match and host of the dating podcast Ask A Matchmaker — agreed, saying a change in your partner’s texting behavior can indicate how important you are to them. “Sometimes, people look at their text messages on their Apple Watches and think, I’ll respond to this later, and then completely forget to respond,” Avgitidis previously told Elite Daily, adding, “If they’re not responding to your text message in the evening after work, then it just means you’re not a priority. You’re on the back burner.”
Not only that, but dating coach and matchmaker Lori Salkin says a drastic change in the pace of your communication could be a sign that your partner is actually pushing away and “putting a lot of space between the two of you, whereas previously you were also connected and in communication.” Bottom line: If the rate at which you communicate changes noticeably and nothing in particular has changed in their life (like a big test, or a project at work), then it’s a red flag that something is amiss in the relationship and you need to get some face time to discuss what’s really going on.
They Ditch The Emojis
Emojis are a totally underrated form of communication. Yes, they are cute and funny and shorthand for your mood. (Does anyone else worry that if they don’t include a smiley face with every correspondence, then they seem rude? Just me?) But in this case, it’s not as simple as their emoji game going from smileys to frowns. As Salkin explains, it’s about changes in emoji use that let you know if your partner is feeling 😡.
If they are typically emoji senders but now those smileys and eggplants have dried up, Salkin says “he or she’s clearly upset or frustrated, and it’s an intentional move that they want you to pick up on and realize that something’s off." Emojis suggest familiarity and warmth, after all, which is why texts without them tend to feel more formal.
Their Texts Get Noticeably Shorter
We don’t always have time to send each other text novels, but Winter warns that “if their response is uncharacteristically brief” when they usually delight in sharing all the deets of their day, then you should pay attention, because something is likely off.
“One-liners like 'yes,' 'no,' or 'don't know yet' sound clearly obligatory,” Winter explains. “This is a subtle indication that says, ‘I’m mad.’ Basically, if you’re trying to get a read on where your partner’s head is at, what you want to be looking for is deviations from their ‘normal.’”
It’s important not to ignore these deviations from their behavior, because more than likely it means that something is wrong. "You can tell when your partner is mad when there’s a distinct change in their text messaging that you didn’t see before,” linguist and researcher Michelle McSweeney previously told Elite Daily, and one of those distinct changes may be in the length of their messages.
You Get The Dreaded “Can We Talk Later” Text
The reason that this one is scary is because it’s easy to fire off a quick reply if you’ve got nothing serious to address. However, Salkin says if you get a text along the lines of, “Hi, you know I am really busy at work, can we just talk later,” then it’s a sign they have something more serious on their mind. They want to consider what they have to say carefully and discuss it with you. If that’s the case, then there’s a solid chance that, yeah, they’re mad.
Likewise, if they claim that they didn’t see your message, then your partner probably doesn’t want to deal with you right now. “Everyone is attached to their cell phones, and some people even sleep with theirs like it’s their favorite digital teddy bear," dating expert Julie Spira previously told Elite Daily. "If the excuse of not seeing your text message becomes a repeated theme, it’s because you’re low on the totem pole.” Yikes.
Their Texts Become Weirdly Formal
Have your normally casual conversations suddenly started taking on a businesslike tone? Uh, oh, friend — you in danger. Speaking formally is how we talk to strangers, not how we talk to partners. Winter says if you start getting text messages that seem like they belong on letterhead, that it’s a sign of separation.
“Formality in language creates distance,” she says. “Normally it's an indicator of respect, but in this case, it's a red flag telling you they've pulled back.” It’s best to get to the bottom of what’s causing them to pull away as fast as possible so that you can address whatever is on their mind.
They Stop Asking You Questions
One of the signs that your SO is mad is that the conversation just kind of dies, but like an unnatural death. It could be because they go completely silent, which is a more obvious red flag, however it could just end because they’ve stopped participating. Yes, they will reply, but you notice the natural rhythm of your text conversation is off because they’ve stopped asking you questions or volunteering information.
Salkin says to play close attention to this, because if they “used to ask details of how your day is going, tell you his day in the play by play and it’s now it’s just ‘OK,’ ‘thanks,’ or ‘got it,’ it means something is off.” As she explains, “They are likely upset about something and you need to backtrack and figure out what it is and talk to them about it as soon as possible. You don’t want to let things fester and grow."
Their Punctuation Game Has Changed
Whether it’s a comma here or there or an overuse of exclamation points, people always know how their partner feels based on how they write their text messages. If your lover is a fan of using enthusiastic punctuation, like exclamation points, and that has changed in their last few messages, then chances are something is wrong.
"We write our emotions into our text messages in ways that we often don’t even realize," McSweeney previously told Elite Daily. “If your partner who usually responds to plans with, ‘Sounds good!!!’ is suddenly saying, ‘Sounds good,’ their lack of exclamation marks could indicate a lack of enthusiasm, which means that something is holding them back — that something perhaps being irritation with you.”
If this is the case, it’s best to just bite the bullet and ask your partner if they have something on their mind. When you do have the conversation to resolve whatever is going on, you want to start laying the foundation for more open communication. That way, you aren’t having to solve the texting equivalent of The DaVinci Code every time they feel some kind of way about something you’ve said or done.
Susan Winter, author and relationship expert
Lori Salkin, dating coach and matchmaker
Michelle McSweeney, linguist and researcher
Julie Spira, dating expert
Editor's Note: This story has been updated by Elite Daily Staff.
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