How Your Partner's Texts Determine If You're In A Toxic Relationship — And 7 Signs Of Toxic Texting

Photo: Azat Satlykov via Unsplash
woman walking on her phone

By Theo Harrison

You keep checking your smartphone every other second as your friends notice you are being twitchier than usual. No texts. No calls. Nothing. It’s like he’s ignoring you deliberately. You wonder if he’s busy and whether he’s had time to read your text.

So, you text him again trying to make things right once again. You apologize for everything, even though it was clearly his fault. You just want the fight to end.

As you notice your message has been “read,” your anxiety shoots up and then you see him go offline. Still no reply. He’s still angry at you, although he doesn’t really have any reason for it.

Now, you start feeling guilty and ashamed as your self-esteem takes a hit. This is how you tell someone is toxic over text. 

What is toxic texting? Toxic texting is when someone texts you toxic messages and tries to control your texting life. This person will insist that their texts receive immediate attention, they read all your communications and police your phone, they gaslight you and then they isolate you. 

According to marriage and family therapist and YourTango expert, Frances Pattonyou are in a toxic relationship if your partner constantly demands to have their needs be met while refusing to meet yours, "you may be in a toxic relationship if you find yourself feeling worse and worse about yourself because of your partner’s disrespect." Patton says if their text messages are "repeatedly rude, mean, insulting, controlling, stalker-like, angry, inappropriate, and selfish" then they are a toxic texter.

Texting behavior in couples can give you several warning signs of a toxic relationship. Several studies have found that texting can lead to a lot of stress and anxiety, especially among romantic couples. According to YourTango expert Joseph Stasaitis, a toxic relationship is, "any relationship that one person or the other, or even both have hidden agendas. Any lack of transparency and poor communication are definite clues."

Can text messages ruin a relationship? Research has revealed that texting can actually make your relationship better or worse, based on how you and your partner text each other. When it comes to romantic relationships, experts have found that what matters is how much “text compatible” you are with your partner, instead of how often you text each other.

Patton says text messages affect a relationship just like any other form of communication, and toxic texters can damage relationships. "Unfortunately, with text messaging, you can’t see the other person’s facial expressions or body language, or and you can’t hear their tone of voice. For that reason, they are easy to misinterpret," says Patton. "It’s important to word text messages carefully and to keep them positive."

Although it may be an effective way to communicate, texting can, in fact, be a hindrance in developing a meaningful relationship with your significant other. If you want to know if your significant other is a toxic texter then get to know the seven signs of toxic texting. 

Signs of Toxic Relationship Texts

1. You follow texting “rules.”

In any healthy relationship, texting happens naturally in a back and forth manner. However, in a toxic relationship, texting your partner can feel like a game that includes a lot of calculations and strategies requiring you to “win.”

If you feel like you have to stick to certain rules when it comes to texting your partner, then you need to take a hard look at your relationship. Some of the rules may include trying to appear busy and waiting for some time to reply back, focusing excessively on "read receipts," reading between the lines of the texts, deliberately not responding, making you desperate to text your partner, and rewriting each text several times trying to figure out exactly what you should say before sending.

Texting should be about communication, not about playing mind games.

RELATED: 2 Awful Texting Mistakes That Cause Unnecessary Relationship Drama

2. Your partner deliberately ignores you.

Do you feel your partner intentionally ignores your texts? A toxic partner may often refrain from responding to your texts because you were unable to promptly respond earlier.

In an unhealthy relationship, toxic communication habits will thrive. Your partner may want to create friction and drama by ignoring you and going into “radio silence.” Talking to your partner about this can be helpful as they might have felt ignored by you in the first place. But make sure you stick only to the issue of texting.

However, when this kind of behavior becomes a habit, then it can be one of the hidden signs of a toxic relationship.

According to Patton, a toxic person will use communication to try to control you, put you down, and make you feel bad about yourself. "A toxic person will often communicate sweetly at first to draw you in, but eventually you begin to suspect that they are holding back, breaking promises, and lying to you."

3. You have to respond immediately.

Does your partner expect you to reply right away? If you are expected to instantly respond to each one of their texts, irrespective of your daily schedule, then you might be with a toxic partner. 

The truth is, you have a life of your own and you need to focus on your own life and career. It is not possible for anyone to stay glued to their phones all the time. 

If your partner expects you to reply immediately, then clearly they do not respect your personal space, your career, your time, or you. In a healthy relationship, partners understand each other and realize that it’s not necessary to get a response to every text in 10 seconds.

4. Your partner texts constantly.

If your partner keeps texting you continuously, especially when you’re busy and unable to respond, then it can be a serious relationship red flag. Although it may seem cute on the surface, in reality, these are warning signs of insecurity and manipulation. 

If your partner texts you until you respond, then it can often leave you feeling stressed, anxious, and overwhelmed. Moreover, it can be a serious cause for concern as it may lead to a lot of anger and frustration in your partner that will grow over time.

Most of us tend to over-text when we don’t get a response, but when your partner goes overboard even after knowing well about your schedule, then it can only hint at a toxic and unhealthy relationship.

Apart from these, your partner may also exhibit some other toxic behaviors that are warning signs of digital abuse.

5. There's digital gaslighting.

A toxic and narcissistic partner may try to manipulate your smartphone and other synchronized devices in order to gain better control over you. And they will do all this behind your back to mess with your mind.

This is a form of gaslighting and can make you question your sense of reality. They might delete certain names for the contact list, delete messages from your inbox and media from the gallery, or they may reply to texts from others pretending to be you. But worst of all, they will convince you that you have done all that. Or, that your phone is malfunctioning.

They will be so convincing that you will believe them and doubt yourself to eventually believe their reality. Gaslighting, in any form, is always one of the glaring signs of a toxic relationship,

6. There's internal policing of digital behavior.

A toxic relationship can often make you police and check your own digital behavior due to the fear of repercussions, even though you might not have done anything wrong. A toxic, manipulative, and dominating partner may gain access to your phone, check your texts and photos, track your location, and ask you to provide evidence about your whereabouts all the time.

Then, they will use this information and tweak it to their benefit to abuse, harass, criticize, accuse, and control you. When this kind of behavior becomes frequent and common, you will start policing yourself and how you use your device. You may hide or delete certain media or messages as they may be used against you.

You may delete call logs and ask friends of the opposite gender not to contact you during specific hours as you will be with your partner. You will fear that if they find anything on your phone, they will doubt and accuse you of cheating, although you’ve been nothing but faithful.

7. They take over your device.

Your partner may confiscate your phone, claiming you’re addicted to it, or may emotionally blackmail you to stop using it by making up emotional (read fictional) stories about their past relationship and ex-partner and how they got cheated. 

Although they may sound concerned, loving, or hurt, these are all strategies to control you and isolate you. This is a form of emotional abuse because all they want is to stop you from communicating with others or at least control it. 

However, they might also get aggressive and forcefully confiscate your phone when you’re inside the safety of your bedroom and away from the eyes of your loved ones. Whether your partner is doing this subtly or directly, this is not only a sign of an unhealthy relationship but also a warning sign of abuse.

RELATED: 11 Things A Guy Will Never Do Over Text If He Really Likes You

Examples of Toxic Relationship Texts

Here are a few examples of toxic text messages to send or that a toxic texter might send to you. 

1. "Where are you? Who are you with? Why is it taking you so long to answer my texts?"

2. "I was drunk at the time. You can’t blame me for what I did. I can barely even remember what happened."

3. "You’re such an idiot. You can’t do anything right."

4. "Calm down. You’re overreacting."

5. "I’m sorry you feel that way."

6. You know there are a million other people who want to date me, right? You’re not my only option.

7. “I hope you’re having fun without me ;)"

8. “I won’t bother you anymore.”

9. You’re acting crazy.

10. I really don’t have time to deal with you right now.

11. I’m not going to apologize when I didn’t do anything wrong.

12. If you loved me, then you would let me do whatever I wanted.

13. You didn’t tell me you were going out tonight. You need to ask for my permission first.

14. Leave me alone. You can be so annoying.

15. Are you really going to leave the house wearing that?

All these are toxic behaviors and attempts to control and abuse you. A toxic texters favorite toxic text to send to you is one that isolates you, gaslights you, and harasses you at the same time. 

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Today, your smartphone can be used as a weapon not only to access all your private information, but also to control, manipulate, abuse, threaten, defame, confuse, and isolate you. An easy way to do this is through a toxic text, meaning a text that someone sends to you that is toxic and hurts you in a way. In healthy relationships, partners may willingly share access to their devices for better transparency in relationships.

However, if you feel compelled to do so, then these are clearly signs of a toxic relationship and an insecure, manipulative partner.

Any toxic relationship has certain warning signs, but there are several ways unhealthy relationship behaviors can get expressed through texting. From being drowned with constant texts to being compelled to show your inbox to your partner, here are a few toxic texting behaviors that you need to look out for.

How to Handle Toxic Relationship Texts

Texting behavior of your partner can reveal a lot about their mentality, personality, and true feelings towards you as these can help you identify signs of a toxic relationship.

Do they text you all the time asking where you are? Do they want to track your location? Do they expect you to reply immediately? Do they want to know the password to your device? Personal space is crucial in any healthy relationship. If you find yourself answering yes to all these questions then you have to do something about it as toxic partners tend to cross all boundaries and invade your private digital space. 

Toxic texters are motivated by their own insecurities or bad experiences in their past relationships, however, that does not mean you have to put up with it.

They may give you a lot of “reasons” (read: excuses) to access your device and check your texts and call logs and even tweak it to their benefit without you even realizing it. 

Although you may not have anything to hide, they will accuse you of cheating until you comply with their demands of handing them your phone. While at other times, they may be a bit more discreet and say you’re getting addicted to your phone so they will "lovingly" take your phone away from you.

If you notice your partner is showing toxic texting habits, then you need to give it some serious attention in real life. These can indicate and lead to further toxic behaviors in the relationship.

According to Stasaitis, lack of sincerity is evident when texting, "it's important to trust your intuition and not ignore any feelings or insights that indicate a lack of integrity," says Stasaitis. "Be sincere and authentic in all communications. If you are not receiving much in return, be assertive and address the issue immediately rather than choosing to endure uncomfortable feelings."

If you feel uncomfortable with how your partner texts and communicates with you digitally, it will be best to talk to them openly and honestly in person and tell them exactly how you feel. It may be just a misunderstanding from your end and talking may clear things up. Never give it back to them and draft ideas of toxic texts to send to your boyfriend.

Patton recommends that if you aren’t sure whether the relationship is toxic, try talking honestly about your feelings with your partner, however, "if you know they are toxic or they don't respond in an understanding way when you confront them, then there’s no point in trying to talk out your feelings. They won’t care, and you won’t get anywhere."

But if their behavior doesn’t change or improve, then you may need to take a serious look at the relationship and reconsider it. Patton says that once you’ve broken up with your toxic partner, don’t keep texting, "they may pretend to be sorry, and you’ll find yourself in for Round Two of the same old thing. Block their number and move on!"

Toxic texting behaviors can not only ruin your relationship but also corrupt your life. So, look out for these relationship red flags and save yourself from unnecessary abuse and harassment. 

You don’t deserve a relationship that drains your energy and your phone. You deserve someone who trusts you and lets you be.

RELATED: 5 Texting Mistakes That Ruin A Guy's Chance To Date Great Women IRL

Theo Harrison is a writer who focuses on relationships, dating, and love. For more of his relationship content, visit his author profile on The Mind's Journal.

This article was originally published at The Mind's Journal. Reprinted with permission from the author.