The way you text your SO reveals a lot about the state of your relationship. Texting is one of the primary ways couples communicate with each other, so it’s no wonder that your texts contain little clues about how solid your connection is. The texting signals your relationship is happy can show that you’re both on the same page about each other, and you can feel confident in your growing bond.
Deciphering texting signals isn’t always easy. After all, unlike face-to-face conversations, you can’t read into the tone of someone’s voice in a text to understand how they feel. But according to linguist and researcher Michelle McSweeney, who studies the way people use technology to communicate in relationships, you can look out for a few subtle clues that might give you insight into how your relationship is progressing. I asked McSweeney to outline some of the signs that a relationship is healthy, thriving, and happier than ever. Is it important to text each other frequently? What about the topics you discuss over text versus IRL? And most importantly, how can you make your partner feel appreciated?
Luckily, you can look to your chat history to find out how well your relationship is doing. And if you want to change your communication patterns to increase your connection, you can totally do that too. Here’s how McSweeney says you’ll know you’re in a happy partnership.
1. You have a daily rhythm of communication.
Establishing a pattern in your texting will make both partners feel valued and secure. “Maybe you text all day together or maybe you only text at lunchtime, but falling into this habit within the relationship is a sure sign that things are going well,” McSweeney explains. “[It’s] a good sign that you can establish norms that will work for both of you.” Most of a relationship isn’t about the highs and lows — it’s about the normal, every day conversations you have with each other. If you’re in a daily rhythm, it shows that your lifestyles and schedules are compatible.
2. You have a shared language.
No, this doesn’t mean you’ve made up a literal new language together, but it does mean that you punctuate your conversations with inside jokes, emojis, GIFs, or whatever personalized details you choose. “If you have made up words or symbols that only make sense to the two of you, or you find yourself referencing inside jokes or shared experiences, you can be sure that you and your partner are not only invested but that you are developing a special bond together,” McSweeney assures. “That emoji typo that you made once that you send to each other all the time now? Great sign!”
3. You understand each other’s jokes and wit.
Since you can’t read a person’s emotions over text, it’s very easy to have miscommunications. If you’ve gotten used to each other’s texting style, you probably understand when your partner is making a joke, or when they’re busy at work and can’t send long responses. “The ability to build on each others' jokes and humorous speech are all great signs,” McSweeney emphasizes. “You are listening to each other and genuinely hearing what the other has to say — and willing to work for it sometimes.” On those rare moments when you do miscommunicate, you talk through it so it doesn’t happen next time.
4. You’ve steadily increased the amount you share with each other.
“Sharing everything all at once is not always the best, but as your conversation becomes more about your feelings, needs, and wants, and less about things or activities you like or don't like, it's a good sign that intimacy and trust are developing,” McSweeney explains. This doesn’t mean you have to share every detail of your life with each other over text, but you’ve progressed from just talking about your days to talking about how you are feeling. You can support each other emotionally over text as well as in person.
5. You’ve set clear boundaries.
Even though most people spend their entire days attached to their phones, they’re rarely available 24/7 to be texting. “Establishing boundaries and communicating about when you are available to text or talk may be one of the most important things you can do for your relationship,” McSweeney says. “Sometimes these boundaries emerge naturally, but other times, they have to be explicitly stated.” If you can’t text during the workday, simply telling your partner “I’m unavailable between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m.” can significantly reduce their anxiety and stress. You can both feel confident in your feelings because you know when you can expect a text back.
6. You show thoughtfulness over text.
Even if you can’t communicate constantly, when you do, it’s meaningful. “Many couples find it helps build intimacy to stay in light contact throughout the day, sending messages that may be low on content but high on effect,” McSweeney notes. Sending a simple “thinking of you” text in the middle of the day will make your SO feel super special.
7. You feel like you can be yourself over text.
“The most important sign that your relationship is going well is if you feel comfortable,” McSweeney says. You aren’t second-guessing every message you send to your partner, and even when you discuss serious topics, you feel confident that they’ll understand how you’re coming across. “If you find yourself being able to express yourself and feel understood and seen, it's a good sign that your relationship is on a good track,” McSweeney explains. You shouldn’t have to think too hard about texting each other — instead, it should be a natural part of your daily routine.
Of course, no couple is going to do all these things perfectly — you’ll have misunderstandings and disagreements about texting that you’ll have to work through at times. But if several of these texting signs apply to your relationship, you know you’re in a good place. And if you want to make your relationship happier, try implementing these strategies to help your relationship grow and thrive. It’s totally possible to strengthen your connection over text message, one emoji or witty response at a time.