Why His Text Messages Are Sweet But He Acts Like A Jerk When You’re Actually Together

Via text, he’s the sweetest, most romantic dude ever. It makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside—that is, until you’re actually together in person and he’s a bit of a d-bag. What’s up with the 180 personality switch? Here’s what could be happening:

  1. He’s not good at talking out loud. Let’s just get the most benign, obvious, and understandable reasons out of the way. Texting gives us the cushion of being able to have time to think about what we’re going to say and how we want to come across that face-to-face interactions just doesn’t. Face-to-face requires quicker decisions in what’s said and how it’s conveyed. Unless your guy has a lot of swagger naturally, he might not be as quick and thoughtful with his words when on the spot.
  2. He’s more comfortable expressing himself in written form. It’s possible that the sweetie you’re talking to via text actually a more honest version of himself. Many guys have a hard time shaking the constructs of masculinity that society imposes on them. They don’t want to be perceived as weak or emotional. By limiting variables such as body language and facial expressions, he might feel more in control of expressing his emotions while protecting himself. Word to the wise: this is common with guys who are shy in person and should fade as the relationship becomes more concrete.
  3. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. It’s easier to remember all the good from afar. When you’re not distracted by pet peeves, planning details, and differences, it can be easy to romanticize your partner. It’s also why we sometimes romanticize the good times with some of our exes and can develop a memory gap about why it didn’t work out in the first place. If he gushes when you’re not there, he’s probably missing you and thinking about you fondly.
  4. He’s trying to fulfill a need he can’t in real life. Talk is cheap and sometimes, people think that by saying romantic, poetic things, they’ll fulfill the need you might have to hear them without actually doing anything to back those words up. What better way than through text, when you’re not actually together and no immediate follow-up action is required? Maybe you’ll forget by the next time you’re together in person.
  5. You’re always more of a flight risk when you’re not together. He’s insecure about your relationship and covering his bases. He wants to ensure you’re thinking about him. This becomes especially important when the relationship is at risk. That way, should a handsome and eligible new prospect comes along, you’ll be fresh off of getting buttered up with some sweet nothings and put your horse blinders on. If your guy is super jelly, he may be worried when you’re not together.
  6. He’s thinking about relationship issues with more clarity when you’re not together. With my ex, I would get text messages throughout the day while out work. Do you want to cook a meal together when you get home? Let’s take the dogs for a walk tonight. (These were among my major initiatives in the relationship.) It seemed like was thinking about what I was saying were problem areas when we weren’t together. The follow-through? Well, let’s just we’re exes for a reason.
  7. He needs a random ego stroke. It happens to the best of us–we’re going about our day when all of a sudden, we feel vulnerable and alone. Guys are not immune to this feeling. When it strikes, he might send out a sweet text that he’s sure you’ll respond to. Really, it’s less about you and more about ego seeking reassurance.
  8. He’s skewing the relationship ratio. In relationships, there’s always going to be some friction and times that you’re discontent with your partner. Personally, I think 90-10 is a good ratio of content-discontent, but everyone has their own numbers of what they’ll put up with. If he’s keeping you satisfied while you’re not together by sending sweet text messages, he’s getting more time into the content percentage with minimal effort. However, having someone to text throughout the day could be considered a benefit of a relationship—a sort of back-pocket emotional support, if you will. It doesn’t speak to the authenticity of what’s being said.
  9. He’s trying to manipulate you. If you’re noticing an extreme difference between who this guy is in person and who he is via text, he may just be trying to string you along by telling you what he knows you want to hear and keep you in his clutches. Red flag: if the best part of your relationship is your text message conversations but most of your in-person interactions are crummy, it might be time to take a cue from Queen B. Boy, bye.
Tanya Fijalkowski works as an editor for Printers Row Publishing Group in San Diego, CA. She believes in the live-and-let-live philosophy, and has been a longtime advocate of shamelessness. Her motto: "It's time to take things too far."