So you’ve met a new potential partner who checks off almost all your boxes. Yay! They’re kind, understanding, adventurous, and also super hot (obvs). But there’s one major problem — their texting style totally turns you off, and you notice it every time you communicate. If you don’t like someone’s texting style, is that a dealbreaker for your relationship? It really depends on the situation and how you choose to handle it.
Maybe you’re a stickler for proper grammar, and you’re dating someone who always uses “u” instead of “you.” Or maybe they send way more emojis than you’re comfortable with. Whatever is going on, it can mess with your feelings for someone when their texting style continuously gets on your nerves. But is it worth bringing up, or is that only going to hurt their feelings? Start by doing some personal analysis.
“First, ask yourself why it’s bugging you,” suggests linguist and researcher Michelle McSweeney. Are you concerned that they don’t know any better, or do you feel like they just don’t care about your conversation (or your relationship)? “Often, when someone uses language that annoys us, it’s because they are violating our cultural norms,” she explains. Everyone is socialized to communicate in a different way — whether it’s spelling words out versus shortening them, or texting effusively versus holding things back. A lot of this has to do with the environment that’s been surrounding you for years, and how your family and friends communicate with you.
One you’ve learned more about this person, their texting style might start to make more sense. “It could even be an opportunity to understand them better, seeing their texting style as a positive quirk about them rather than something they do ‘wrong,’” McSweeney says. If it’s really only one or two idiosyncrasies that bother you, try to reframe your perspective around your partner’s texting style. Their habits may change and adapt as you two develop texting patterns together.
Dating expert Julie Spira agrees that early on, it’s best not to bring up the issue. “If the first text or two doesn’t mesh with your style, or isn’t the way you like to communicate, I suggest you let it slide, and respond with the tone and style that makes you feel comfortable,” she says. “This way, the sender might naturally adapt their texting style, and the result will make you happy.” See if the concern goes away (or starts to bother you less) with time. As two people grow closer, they often start to mirror each other in terms of digital communication, so you’ll likely start picking up a few of each other’s stylistic choices.
If things don’t improve with time, and the situation starts to affect the way you view your relationship, it’s worth bringing it up — but be gentle. “The best way to talk about this with your partner is to have the convo in person, and not in a text exchange that sounds like you’re just putting them down,” Spira suggests. “Let them know you … write or communicate in a certain way, and kindly ask if they could try to speak in the same texting language. This way, you’re not giving them a digital ultimatum, but you’re expressing your needs.” Your partner can’t adapt their behavior without first understanding what’s on your mind.
Ultimately, if your partner’s texting style is something that really gets on your nerves — and if your conversations haven’t solved the issue — you shouldn’t feel bad about breaking things off. “There’s something to be said for being ‘textpatible’ (compatible in a texting context),” McSweeney explains. “You’ll understand each other better earlier on, and have less internal work to do on implicit judgements.” Texting is one of the primary ways you communicate with your partner, so it’s important that you feel like you two mesh in this way. “Texting is itself a communication style, and not being able to communicate in the same language ended many relationships before text messaging was ever involved,” McSweeney notes. Think of it as a “language barrier” of sorts — one that ultimately got in the way of your overall communication.
You’re not wrong for ending a relationship when the texting feels “off” in some way. You’re also not wrong for trying to fix it. As long as you go into tough conversations with compassion and care for your partner’s feelings, you’ll learn more about why you both communicate the way you do — and that goes a long way toward helping you understand each other.