Respectful texting in a relationship

Texting is often the preferred method of communication in a relationship. If you’re just getting to know someone, it’s low-key and doesn’t involve the pressure that can come with talking face-to-face. If you’re already friends but just are now getting to know them in a romantic way, texting can help ease the transition from friendship to relationship. And even though relationships cannot be built solely on texting, they’re often a great way to stay in touch with your partner and deepen your bond.

Nothing can replace face-to-face conversation, but knowing how to text in a relationship means you’ll be able to communicate effectively and show your special someone the respect they deserve, from one phone to another.

Texting while you're dating

If you are still in the early stages of a relationship, texting can be a fun way to share more of yourselves, whether that’s pictures of your cat or more intimate thoughts and feelings.

The thing is, when you hit the send button, you’ve lost control over who sees that message. Once you sext or send an explicit photo, for example, you’re losing control over who may actually see that photo — say, your partner’s best friends, sports team members, classmates, parents, teachers — you name it, someone else can eventually see it, whether by your partner’s choice or not.

Early on, you’ll want to talk about setting boundaries. This extends to digital boundaries about what you’re comfortable sending via text. It’s important to communicate openly and honestly about what you’re ok sending and let your partner know what you are comfortable sharing over text.

Partners who are abusive may ask for a photo or more, or may coerce and manipulate you into giving them what they want. Saying things like “if you really loved me” or “you must not trust me” is more subtle and manipulative than just “send me a photo now” — be wary of anyone who doesn’t respect the boundaries you’ve set up. Furthermore, be respectful of your partner’s boundaries. If they don’t feel comfortable sending you something, it doesn’t mean they don’t trust you. It just means that, for them, this is a line they are not willing to cross.

Texting in a committed relationship

When you’re in a committed relationship, texting can be a way to quickly talk to each other about your day, make plans for the weekend or share photos and video. Unfortunately, it also has the potential to become another avenue for abuse.

If you text your partner to see what they’re up to and they don’t answer right away, give them a chance to respond. There are a ton of reasons they may not be responding right away. Maybe their phone has been confiscated by teachers or parents. Maybe it’s lost or stolen, or their phone is in an area with terrible reception and they can’t receive your texts.

Avoid texting constantly asking for an answer — not only is it very annoying, it can border on downright unhealthy. Demanding to know why your partner isn’t answering your texts is aggressive and controlling. And if your partner is texting 20, 30 or hundreds of messages at once demanding to know your whereabouts, that’s definitely a warning sign for unhealthy or even abusive behavior.

Staying healthy

Part of healthy communication is being aware of what you say and how that could be interpreted. Maybe what you thought was a playful joke actually hurt their feelings. Spending time together in person lets you explain yourself, as well as pick up on body language and facial cues. So if you want to talk about more serious matters or grow your relationship, save your talks for in-person. Pick a good time when they’re not busy or stressed and avoid attacking them if you feel something is wrong. Make eye contact and speak directly, making sure you know you’re listening to what your partner is saying.

Do you feel like your partner is suffocating you because they text constantly? Are you feeling threatened or like they have control over your life via text? Do they text you fun and sweet messages or are those texts also often berating, yelling, manipulating or making you feel anxious and fearful? If so, it’s possible that your relationship is unhealthy or abusive.

If you ever have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to our Advocates!


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