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What Is Fexting? Here’s What You Need To Know About “Fighting Over Text”

What Is Fexting? Here’s What You Need To Know About “Fighting Over Text”

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Unless you are with your partner all day long, which is unlikely, the odds are that you keep exchanging texts throughout the whole day. And like with most conversations, when emotions are running high, those texts might just turn out to be heated, and not even in a good way.

Enter Fexting, A.K.A. fighting over texts which you have probably done a thousand times before, even without knowing that there was a term for the same.

Fighting over texts in romantic relationships can actually appear to be a back-and-forth exchange of hurtful or angry messages. In a majority of situations, fexting can involve negative emotions, blame, and accusations conveyed via texts. Because you are not able to communicate personally.

Fighting over texts can be characterized by a simple lack of exchanged words. This might appear to be similar to asynchronous communication, for instance. Basically, you are aware of how your partner actually has their smartphone handy. But they are choosing not to reply at all. Or when to actually respond – they might just stonewall you with bare-bones, short answers.

That being said, understand that fexting is not really an effective means of sorting it out with your significant other. This is particularly true, considering that there is so much space for miscommunication when you are texting.

But TBH, it is not ideal because of long work hours, long-distance relationships, or just spending time apart with friends and family, fexting is inevitable at times. That being said, you can always learn how to use the same to the advantage of your relationship.

So, here we are to help you ensure that if you *MUST* fext, you are doing it in the most productive way possible.

So, What Is Fexting?   

Have you ever looked up ‘fexting meaning,’ or ‘fexting definition,’ or even ‘fexting urban dictionary’ on Google?

Yes, fexting refers to fighting over texts, but have you ever wondered how did the word come into prominence?

What Is Fexting

Undoubtedly, texting has multiple positives, but what really happens when people in long-distance relationships depend on texting to argue without even trying to have a healthy conflict resolution? There is a word coined for this particular behavior – it’s called fexting, A.K.A. fighting over texts.

Interestingly, the First Lady of the United States, Jill Biden, slipped the word ‘fexting’ casually into conversation during a candid interview with an international publication earlier this year. Dr. Biden candidly admitted that she and her husband (President Biden) fought over text messages occasionally to avoid fighting in public.

Fexting Is So Common: But Why?  

The reason why fexting has become a very common problem is that we are so accustomed to gratification instantly that when something upsets or annoys us, we feel like we must quickly react.

Fexting Is So Common_ But Why_

In this context, Tami Zak, a licensed family and marriage therapist working with Grow Therapy, told Insider, “Couples regularly want me to referee text arguments like it’s a zero-sum game with one clear winner and loser. That’s not how it works in relationships, and fexting can bring out the worst on both sides.

Couples who are struggling are typically quick in terms of feeling triggered and reacting negatively. Fexting is so much easier simply because there is literally no direct confrontation, but it can definitely feel like being punched in your face, metaphorically. But it just hurts so much worse and for much, much longer.

Zak also added, “Since texting has become the preferred method of communication amongst millennials and Gen Z, fexting is bound to happen.

People can fext for different reasons but if it is the only way to have a difficult conversation, then it can refer to multiple insidious issues within the relationship.

In this context, Jaime Mahler, a licensed clinical psychotherapist, told Insider, “Some may choose to fext due to its convenience, while others prefer it as they like to have more time to develop a finely crafted response. Next are those who resort to fexting because of their communication difficulties, and texting is simply the path of least resistance.

How Can You Tell If You And Your Partner Are Fexting?  

So, what is fexting in a relationship? How can you tell if your partner and you are actually fexting?

Fexting is fighting over texts with your significant other, and it can definitely take more than one form. You are probably just fexting if you do notice

Situations Where Fexting Might Be Fine
  • hostility or anger being communicated via texts,
  • Passing blame or accusations for current or past events,
  • hurtful name-calling,
  • ignoring bids for general connection and asynchronous responses,
  • paragraph-long or multi-text messages expressing wrongdoing or anger,
  • betrayal or sadness conveyed through texts,
  • feeling too shy to bring up topics in real life,
  • receiving or sending angry videos, photos, voice messages, and more.

The list can go on and on – but overall, the exchange of texts usually comes with an angry tone. If you did do the same in real life, you would probably be raising your voice, get visibly upset, and might even resort to crying.

What Are The Pros And Cons Of Fexting In A Relationship?  

Why is fexting bad, or rather what are the pros and cons of fexting in a relationship?

While fighting over texts might be unpleasant and mostly unproductive, there are several advantages of the same. For starters, texting gives you the time and space to think about what you have to say before impulsively responding. Now, this can prove to be very helpful if you are in the habit of blowing up during conflict.

It also indicates that you will have a complete record of the conversation – in case you need it during therapy or so that you can go over the same with your partner in person, or just because you want to track how the conversation plays out for yourself.

That being said, it is better to have heated conversations in real life, or at the very least, over video or phone calls. Fights are usually vulnerable in nature, and nobody really wants to be a part of them. Defaulting to texting instead seems like the easy road out and can definitely be the result of cowardice.

You might be thinking that you are basically escaping discomfort via texts, odds are you are just making it more difficult for yourself since so much gets lost in translation.

During fexting, there are literally so many chances of miscommunication – you do not have the context of actually hearing your significant other’s tone of voice. Connecting physically via touch, seeing their different nonverbal cues, and so much more. All of this can definitely exacerbate the entire conflict instead of just helping you reach any resolution.

But Why Is Fexting Typically Problematic?  

The receiver is more likely to just misinterpret the texts that someone is actually trying to share because the receiver can not hear the tone or voice of the sender or even check out their body language.

But Why Is Fexting Typically Problematic?  

This can definitely be a potential reason for concern considering so much communication happens via nonverbal cues.

It is so much easier to just take everything literally via text than to engage in face-to-face conversations. When someone talks to you in person, they are likely to have a soft tone or word their sentences differently, whereas, over texts, there is a higher chance of just coming across as blunt and harsh without really meaning it.

So, When you are fighting over text messages, it becomes easy to hold grudges or just bring up past events because it is all there in writing. When you start arguing in person, it becomes relatively easier to move on, considering you cannot scroll back and relive arguments in the same way that you can when you are texting.  

Ways To Avoid Fexting:  

If you are apart and you feel like resolving any conflict as soon as possible, a call can be so much more effective as a medium as compared to texting because you can convey your emotional state of mind with your voice.

When you have the impulse to just click on ‘send,’ stop, take a few deep breaths, and put your phone down. Give yourself the space and time to let the feelings inside you subside before you can refocus to connect as well as communicate with your partner.

Fexting In Long Distance Relationships Can Create More Distance Between Couples:  

Texting, in general, serves as a relatively less confrontational and intimidating medium for a majority of people out there as compared to talking about issues in person.

Situations Where Fexting Might Be Fine

In this context, Pallavi Barnwal, a certified sex educator and intimacy coach, told Vogue India, “Face-to-face communication involves eye-gazing, facial expressions, voice, intonation, hand gestures, and body language, and tells you the vibe of a person. It is far more nuanced and includes nonverbal gestures.

Texting is naturally devoid of all the above-mentioned subtleties.

While fexting, an individual might send out multiple nasty texts just to get their partner’s attention, but this can really backfire in the long run. In face-to-face communication, one can actually be aggressive by raising their voice only a little, but during texting, the only way someone can lash out is by using bitter words and harsh language.

In the heat of the moment, the nervous system of anyone would either be in flight mode or fight mode. As a result, a couple is likely to get into a fight quickly without thinking much, which can, in turn, lead to simmering resentment and negative consequences.

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Yes, texting can be a useful tool for articulating feelings when you are overwhelmed. However, in case of fighting over texts can actually turn out to be a triggering factor and come across as something that you didn’t even intend to do in the first place.

In this context, Tanya Percy Vasunia, a published author, psychologist, and researcher, told Vogue India, “In such situations, our human mind tends to fill the gaps automatically. For instance, one of the biggest struggles with those who have anxiety is to see someone typing, and nothing gets sent. We are constantly imagining what our partner could be typing, so we fill in the blanks for silence and tone because the brain makes a lot of assumptions. When you fight over text, those assumptions are exaggerated, which can be quite dangerous for relationships.

How Can You Fext Productively With Your Partner?  

Circumstances such as long-distance relationships, social plans, and disparate work hours make fighting over texts inevitable, even if you have no intention of doing so! For this simple reason, you should be prepared to productively fact when it happens within your relationship.

How Can You Fext Productively With Your Partner

Martha Tara Lee (Ph.D.), the founder of Eros Coaching and sex therapist, spoke to Cosmopolitan about using ‘I’ statements instead of accusatory words. For instance, you can say, ‘I feel upset when you say X to me’ or ‘I’d love it if you could do X instead of X.’

According to Lee, it is good to take breaks when needed, even in the middle of fighting over texts. Just ensure that you communicate the same to your partner first – yes, you are putting your phone down for some time, and it’s fine as long as you let your partner know about it.

Trust us – anywhere between five to twenty minutes can actually make a major difference in your replies. You might actually come back so much more levelheaded than you envisioned.

It is also best that you avoid using language that could be understood as hostility or aggression. For instance, excessive use of exclamation or all-caps might not get your point across. More importantly, it is vital to note that you need to be as respectful as needed to your partner.

Situations Where Fexting Might Be Fine:  

So you know what is fexting and when can you avoid it, but what about the situations when it is fine.

Long Distance Relationships

There are multiple situations that involve multiple trivial issues where it can prove to be beneficial to share your negative feelings over text messages. For example, if your significant other keeps annoying you by picking the wrong things from the grocery store, then it is better you text them instead of discussing the same in person.

It is a minor inconvenience at the end of the day, and you will probably have forgotten all about it by the time they go home. In such cases, sending quick text messages can prove to be beneficial to just get it off your chest and simply move on.

It is worth noting that there are pros of fexting when you approach the idea mindfully. The main benefit is that it gives you plenty of time to gather your thoughts and then articulate the same effectively, resolving conflict hopefully.

Some people are not built to reply immediately – it is not how their minds actually work. It is common for most introverts to take time to process their myriad of thoughts during arguments.

Isn’t It Best That You Hash Things Out In Real Life?  

Yes, a little fexting, in the long run, is fine, but it is very important to understand that there are certain arguments that are best settled personally. For starters, if any fight includes emotionally charged or complex subject matter for both of you – just wait to have the same in real life, especially if it’s a recurring argument in your relationship.

Or if you have a history of miscommunication with your partner while arguing over texts, odds are you won’t see much progress when conflict comes around again.

Instead, if it starts to feel like a texting conversation is simply about moving into normal argument territory, you have to put a pause on the whole subject until you meet in real life or have a conversation over the phone.

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