Sometimes a text can say more than the words in the literal message. If you and your partner have been fighting for a while or your relationship is starting to feel a little draining, it can be helpful to know some texting signs that your relationship is toxic. Though texting is a great way to get in touch with people quickly, sometimes your inbox needs a little extra attention.
"If you watch closely enough, the way someone texts provides a lot of insights into their personality," Claudia Cox, relationship coach and founder of Text Weapon, tells Elite Daily. "Do they respect your time? Are they jealous? Do they try to make you jealous? Do they only talk about themselves? Do they play manipulative games? Once you notice their patterns, it’s up to you to decide if it’s worth discussing their behavior or if it’s time to move on."
Though a toxic relationship may have some major red flags, there are plenty of ways that unhealthy behavior can come through over the phone. From being berated with texts to being forced to show your partner your inbox, these 6 texting signals may mean that it's time for an IRL check-in.
1. You Feel Like There Are "Texting Rules"
Healthy texting should be a back and forth. According to Clarissa Silva, behavioral scientist, relationship coach and creator of Your Happiness Hypothesis Method, if texting your partner feels like you're playing a game of chess, it may be time for a check-in.
"In a healthy relationship, you have chemistry and that will be evident in the text, IRL, and social media," Silva tells Elite Daily. "If you feel that you have to play by response rules with your partner, it might not be on the healthy side."
According to Silva, these rules include waiting to respond to appear #busy, obsessing over read receipts, intentionally not answering to make them want to text you, reading too much into messages, or redrafting every text 100 times before sending. "Your direction should be about learning one another not gaming one another," Silva says.
2. They Expect You To Respond Right Away
Let's face it, you're an interesting person with a lot going on. Though you and your boo may enjoy texting all day, sometimes you may need to put your phone down. "If your partner expects you to instantly respond to every one of their texts, regardless of your schedule, then there is definitely a problem," Cox says. "It shows that they have no respect for your time and expect you to be at their beck and call."
Cox shares that if your relationship feels otherwise healthy, talking to your boo IRL about your texting preferences may be helpful. "Put some basic rules in place that let them know you don’t want to be tied to your phone," Cox says. "Let them know that you can’t always respond in five seconds. Reassure them that you aren’t playing games when you answer late."
3. They Text You Until You Respond
As Cox shares, texting is a two-way conversation. Just as you (hopefully) wouldn't pressure someone to answer you quickly when talking IRL, texting someone until they respond can be overwhelming.
"Telling someone to text faster is the equivalent of saying, 'Can you speak faster?' And firing off a response before they even have the chance to answer is like cutting someone off mid-sentence," Cox says. "It’s not only annoying and rude, but it can become scary, especially if their frustration (and aggression) continues to grow."
As a chronic over-texter, I know the temptation to send 15 texts when you haven't heard from someone. No one knows your relationship better than you do, and if you and your partner are OK with filling each other's inboxes, quadruple texting may be your thing. Whatever the case, talking about texting preferences IRL is the best way to get on the same page.
4. They Criticize You Via Text
Though the number of messages or the time between sending them can say a lot, sometimes the real message is in the literal message. According to Silva, if your partner sends you texts that make you feel uncomfortable, it may be time for a check-in.
"Red flags to be aware of: They make 'suggestions' on how to improve your appearance or body. They criticize you over minor things. They hate your friends and make you question your relationship or limit the amount of time you spend with them," Silva says.
If you text your partner when you're out to eat with friends and your partner responds with harmful comments about dieting or insults about your bestie, that isn't cool. Nobody wants to be questioned or criticized over text. If your inbox is starting to look a little negative, it may be time for a talk.
5. They Intentionally Ignore You
If you notice your partner not replying to your texts in retaliation for you not replying earlier or they intentionally ignore you so you'll worry about them, there may be a problem.
"If you notice patterns in your partner's communication habits, such as creating drama when they feel ignored, or giving you the 'silent treatment,' you should definitely call them out on it," Cox says.
Cox shares that being as specific and situational as possible (i.e. only discussing the texting issue from today, not bringing up the one from three months ago) can keep the conversation on the facts. Rather than, "You always get so mad and then ignore me just to be dramatic" something like, "It hurt my feelings when you didn't answer for three days after I told you that I had clinical all day Tuesday" can help address any underlying problems without making blanket statements.
6. You've Talked About Their Texting IRL And Nothing's Changed
According to Silva, a healthy relationship means the conversation feels equal, IRL and on the phone. If your texting is feeling off-balance, try talking to your partner in person. "An easy remedy to this is to have a face-to-face conversation and read your text messages out loud to each other, then compare how both of you heard and reacted to what you said in your texts," Silva says. "Exploring the core issues IRL may help you understand one another."
Cox adds that phrasing your concern in an affirmative way such as, "Thank you for being patient about me not being able to text at work" rather than, "It's super annoying when you text me during the day when you know I'm at work" can reframe the conversation around praising healthy texting behavior.
Of course, both experts say that if you've tried talking IRL about your texting preferences and they still don't seem to be taking your needs seriously, it may be time for a check-in. You deserve to be with someone who is willing to work with you in your relationship, not someone who continues to hurt your feelings.
Whether your partner is keeping tabs on where you are or they constantly criticize your body or friends, toxic texting can demand some serious IRL attention. As Cox shares, toxic texting habits can be indicative of other toxic behaviors. If you're not comfortable with the way your partner texts you or if their messages are hurting your feelings, try talking to them in person about what you're thinking. Although it may just be a miscommunication that can be easily fixed, if the behavior doesn't change, you may realize that you need to reconsider the relationship. Toxic relationships are totally draining. You deserve a fully-charged phone and a power-packed love life.