Fexting: What Is It And Can It Harm Your Relationship?

You’re absolutely fuming with your partner and are in danger of really losing your cool with them. So, you fire off an angry text and seethe in silence. Even if you’re only in the other room, typing out those furious words is your preferred way of dealing with friction in your relationship. Looks like you’re guilty of “fexting.”

What is fexting?

First Lady of the U.S., Jill Biden, revealed during an interview with Harper’s Bazaar that while she and husband Joe Biden have been married for 45 years, it hasn’t always been a bed of roses. In fact, they argue just like every other couple — and they often rely on “fexting,” a term coined by Jill Biden herself, to get through them.

Simply put, fexting is fighting with your significant other over text. When you can’t bear to look at your partner’s face because you’re so angry or you simply want a bit of distance but still want to get your point across, many couples resort to fexting. In fact, this practice doesn’t even have to happen between romantic partners. You could do it with friends, family members, or even colleagues. However, it’s most popular between two people who are dating or married.

While sexting is all about getting hot and steamy with your partner, this is about arguing from afar. But while it may sound tempting, especially if you struggle to voice your feelings in the moment, is it actually beneficial in any way? It’s hard to imagine so.

Is doing this harmful for your relationship?

Fexting may seem like a relatively innocuous practice, especially if only done sparingly. And while that’s probably the case, there are a fair share of downsides to doing it that you may want to consider. Here are the pros and cons to consider before taking this route of conflict resolution with your loved ones.

The good

  1. You can take time to formulate a response. If you’re someone really need time to formulate the right response and gather your thoughts, fexting gives you the opportunity to do so. Because you’re only texting, there’s no pressure to respond within seconds. Instead, you can quietly reflect for a few minutes (or longer) until you’re ready.
  2. You’re less likely to say things you don’t mean. Because you have more time to think before speaking (or typing), your words will be more intentional. When you’re in an in-person fight, emotions are at a high and you can come out with things you know aren’t true. In doing this, you run the risk of saying something that you can never take back. No one wants that.
  3. You can avoid the aggressive nature of in-person fights. When you’re both amping each other up during a fight, things can get pretty heated very quickly. With fexting, a lot of the intensity is removed. Sure, you can still get annoyed at something they say in a message. However, it’s less immediate and overwhelming when it’s just words on a screen.
  4. You may feel more comfortable voicing your true thoughts and feelings. While you should feel comfortable talking to your partner about anything, sometimes that’s not always the case. If you feel awkward or scared about broaching certain topics, fexting can give you the courage to do so. Because you don’t have to see your partner while saying it, it seems slightly less terrifying.

The bad

  1. It can lead to (or encourage) passive-aggressiveness. While it may seem like a good thing that you don’t have to look your partner in the eyes, it can lead to passive-aggressiveness. When the stakes are lowered, you might end up being petty or making low blows because you don’t have to deal with immediate repercussions. That’s really not a good thing.
  2. It creates distance between you rather than bringing you together. One of the best parts of fighting with your partner (if you do it smartly) is the resolution. You manage to find a way to talk about things like adults. Figuring a way to get through things ends up bringing you closer together. With fexting, you miss out on that opportunity, which is a real shame.
  3. We miss out on many of the lessons we learn during conflict. When you’re arguing in person, you may realize certain things about yourself, your partner, or your relationship. For instance, maybe you realize you tend to raise your voice or talk over your partner rather than listening. Perhaps you notice you and your partner actually fight about very silly things. You miss out on that perspective when you’re carrying out your disagreements via text.
  4. It can deter healthy communication in general. As scary as it is, dealing with the ups and downs in a relationship face-to-face is part of what strengthens your relationship and tests your bond. It also encourages you to communicate more honestly and frankly. You know that if you don’t, things will never work out. However, when you rely on fexting, those communication skills fall by the wayside. Eventually, you shouldn’t be surprised if they fade away altogether.

In conclusion

While arguing via text every once in a while isn’t the end of the world, you probably shouldn’t make it a habit. Clear, direct communication in person is the best way to go. Otherwise, it could lead to misunderstandings, complacency, and ultimately, disaster for your relationship. Find the courage to speak up when you’re in the same room. You’ll be glad you did.

Jennifer Still is a writer and editor with more than 10 years of experience. The managing editor of Bolde, she has bylines in Vanity Fair, Business Insider, The New York Times, Glamour, Bon Appetit, and many more. You can follow her on Twitter @jenniferlstill