This Is What Texting Looks Like In Toxic Relationships, Experts Say
If you've ever been in a truly toxic relationship, you know that the first sign is enough. While you may have ignored the red flags in the past — no judgment, been there myself — you realize that most toxic relationships manifest themselves in lots of different ways. This also means there are many ways to spot the signs of an unhealthy relationship, including by knowing what texting looks like in toxic relationships.
What exactly is a toxic relationship? According to Eric Resnick, dating expert and profile writer, it’s basically the exact opposite of a healthy one. "A healthy relationship enhances your life and your spirit. It makes you feel good, secure and happy," he tells Elite Daily. "If you are not feeling these things, then you are in a toxic relationship. They happen when you or your partner let your insecurities or actions drag your relationship into a place where you are unsure of where you stand, questioning your — and your partner's — actions, and resenting each other because of it." For dating coach Erika Ettin, a toxic relationship has similar traits. "[It’s one] where you're left to feel less-than from your partner. [They] puts you down or in some other way makes you feel insecure or just plain unhappy," she tells Elite Daily.
Needless to say, you deserve a whole lot better. So if this dynamic sounds familiar, but you’re still not convinced, then here's how the experts say you can tell your relationship is toxic just by looking at how you text one another — and what to do about it.
1. Your text history is full of repeat messages.
One sign of a toxic relationship, says Resnick, is a lack of patience or the expectation that your partner be available to respond immediately at every moment of the day. “If you send your partner a text and he doesn't respond, give them a little time. You don't know what they are doing. They have their own life beyond you. Don't start blowing up their phone asking where they are. It makes it sound like you don't trust them and that will make them resent you.”
2. Engaging in spiteful ghosting.
Like the silent treatment, ghosting over text is a form of emotional manipulation, and can be very toxic. “Just because someone didn't get back to you in a manner that you consider timely is not a good reason to ignore them as punishment. It is immature behavior that starts a cycle of toxicity,” warns Resnick. His advice if you want to prevent your relationship from being toxic is to always follow the golden rule. “Treat people as you want to be treated, not as you think they deserve because of how they treated you,” says Resnick. And expect the same level of respect from your partner.
3. Picking fights over text message.
Do you fight over text message? Resnick says that’s a major red flag. “There are a lot of arguments that happen in relationships because they happen in text instead of in person,” explains Resnick. He says that there can be real consequences to arguing with your partner this way, and can actually make both the tone of the fight and its outcome worse. “Starting a fight on a text robs you and your partner of context and tone. It also robs you of the ability to look at your partner and see how they actually feel. If you are starting to have an argument via text, just stop it. Tell your partner that you don't want to have an argument via text when you know you can probably talk things out better in person.”
Ettin agrees. She says a text conversation is not a substitute for an in-person one. “So, if your partner, over text, makes you feel belittled, stupid, annoying, or any combination of these, then you need to stop texting and talk. Communication is the cornerstone of any good relationship, so it has to start there.” Her advice is that, when you do have the face-to-face conversation, you use “I feel” language instead of accusing your partner. This can help to de-escalate the toxicity in the relationship. “Often, how you disagree is indicative of the type of relationship you have,” she explains
What to do if your text messages show your relationship is toxic.
If a stroll back through your texting history confirms that your relationship has indeed become toxic, the only question is: What should you do now?
According to Resnick, your next steps depend on who is the one responsible for the toxicity. “If you are the one bringing toxicity to the relationship, you need to consider why you are doing it and whether you think you can change your behavior. That means talking to your partner about the insecurities that are driving your behavior and seeing if there is a way to move forward.” However, Resnick advises that if it's your partner who's responsible then, “you should seriously consider ending the relationship. Talk to them about how you feel and see where their head is on the situation. If they can't change their behavior, it is time for you to move on.”
While it can be hard to end a relationship, a toxic one where both partners are not ready to make the changes to fix the dynamic — or worse, aren't willing to acknowledge it — is not one you want to stay in. At best, the relationship will remain toxic and unfulfilling, and at worst, it could escalate into something dangerous and even more unhealthy. Either way, you deserve better. Settle for nothing less.
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, call 911 or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1(800) 799-SAFE (7233) or visit thehotline.org.