Fighting over text, commonly known as fexting, is a prevalent issue in most romantic relationships. Navigating conflicts through text messages can be challenging and often unproductive. Fexting involves exchanging angry or hurtful messages, often accompanied by accusations, blame, and negative emotions. While it may be inevitable at times due to various circumstances, there are ways to make fexting more effective. Experts suggest understanding fexting fully and also provide recommendations to do it in the most productive way possible.
Fexting refers to fighting over text with your partner, which can involve hurtful or angry messages, blame, accusations, and all other negative emotions conveyed through text, mainly due to the lack of in-person communication. It can also include asynchronous responses or stonewalling with short, bare-bones answers. Intimacy therapist Martha Tara Lee explains that fexting can manifest as asynchronous responses too, where one partner deliberately chooses not to reply or provides short and unengaging answers.
Pros and Cons of Fexting
Although fexting may sometimes be inevitable due to circumstances like long-distance relationships or busy schedules, experts caution that it is not the most effective way to resolve conflicts. It has some advantages, such as giving you time to think before responding and even providing a record of the conversation. But fexting lacks important cues like tone of voice and nonverbal cues, making it highly prone to miscommunication and potentially exacerbating the conflict. Relationship therapist Jenni Skyler points out that text-based communication lacks crucial elements such as tone of voice and nonverbal cues, which increases the likelihood of miscommunication and misunderstanding.
If fexting becomes necessary, there are ways to make it more productive. According to Lee, Using ‘I’ statements instead of blaming language can help express your feelings without escalating the conflict. Expressing personal feelings and preferences without attacking the partner can help de-escalate the situation. Taking breaks during fexting can also provide space for reflection and prevent impulsive responses. It’s necessary to communicate your intention to take a break to your partner. Avoiding aggressive or hostile texting language, such as excessive use of all-caps or exclamation points, can help maintain a respectful tone.
The Importance of Face-to-Face Communication
While some conflicts can be discussed through text, certain arguments are best settled in person. Complex or emotionally charged subjects and recurring arguments are better-addressed face-to-face to ensure better understanding and resolution. If a fexting conversation starts turning into an ugly argument, it’s advisable to pause the discussion and wait until you can have a conversation in person or over the phone.