3 Warning Signs Your Texting Habits With Your SO Are Bordering On Unhealthy

by Candice Jalili

Like all great things in life, the ability to keep in touch with our partners via text is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, texting is great. I mean, GIFs, Bitmojis, and emojis have basically given us an entirely new language to flirt with. But on the other hand, texting also has the potential to become an unhealthy crutch within the confines of a romantic relationship. Simply put, there's a fine line between texting normally and taking your texting to an unhealthy level. But, of course, wondering if you text your significant other normally isn't always an easy question to answer for yourself.

That's why I asked Dr. Gary Brown, a prominent couples therapist in Los Angeles, to share some warning signs that your texting habits might be veering in the direction of unhealthy. Now, to be clear, these signs don't mean that your relationship is necessarily unhealthy. No, instead, they're just warning signs that the way you and your partner text could potentially be leading to some difficult dynamics within your relationship.

Read along and really try to think honestly about whether or not any of these three warning signs seem to be applicable to the way texting plays out within your own relationship.

Do you text more than you talk IRL?

In a normal relationship, texting is simply something that happens when talking IRL isn't an option. It does not, by any means, take the place of or impede your real life conversations. When texting starts to override face-to-face communication, there could be some trouble in paradise.

"This can be a red flag because no amount of texting can replace a face-to-face conversation or a telephone call," says Dr. Brown. "Texting has limitations as so much of our communications are non-verbal and dependent upon the ability to read body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice. You just don't get that with texting."

"In fact, we use less than 10 percent of our communication abilities when texting," he continues. "That leaves a lot of room for unintended errors and can diminish our ability to really convey the emotions underlying our texts. For example, if you've had an argument and you only text: "I'm sorry", it may be difficult for you SO to know how sincere your apology is without hearing the tone of your voice or seeing your facial expression."

Would you prefer to have confrontations over text than IRL?

If you're starting to use texting to avoid confrontations with your significant other, Brown warns this can be a sign of trouble.

"This is often a subtle sign that you may be fearful and anxious about engaging in direct, in person, conversations that could be painful," he explains. "If you are particularly shy this could be a bad habit that is beginning to border on unhealthy. Casual everyday conversations over text can be just fine. Trying to resolve conflicts over texts is often unproductive at best and, over time, can hurt an otherwise healthy relationship."

Are you having lots of misunderstandings and miscommunications?

Dr. Brown warns that relying on texting as your primary form of communication can be a breeding ground for misunderstanding.

"You may find that there is subtly but increasingly more misunderstandings in your relationship," Brown warns. "The problem is that texts tend to be brief and so much of the messages we send one another are incomplete, at best. Incomplete communications lead to misunderstandings."

Again, these signs don't mean that your texting habits are necessarily unhealthy. What they mean is that it's time to take a step back and consider taking your texting down a notch. A simple rule of thumb? If you have the option of an IRL conversation or a texting conversation, choose the IRL conversation.