discontent couple looking at each other holding mobile phones

discontent couple looking at each other holding mobile phones (© Drobot Dean - stock.adobe.com)

NEW YORK — Having an argument through text messages has become commonplace in society, turning our phones into battlefields for resolving conflicts. However, experts warn that “fexting” can have a pervasive impact on our closest relationships.

A new survey commissioned by SellCell polled 1,064 people, revealing alarming insights into how people engage in text-based arguments, whom they argue with, and their detrimental effects on relationships.

  • 79.61% of respondents admitted to engaging in arguments via text, while 20.39% avoided conflict through phone communication.
  • 47.56% have argued with their current or ex-partners through texts, while 36.56% chose texting for conflicts with friends.
  • The allure of fexting lies in the time it offers people to consider their responses, according to 48.58% of respondents.
  • 59.83% reported negative impacts on their relationships due to arguing through texts.
  • 59.72% found that fexting actually prolonged arguments rather than resolving them swiftly.
woman crying while using social media
(© Vladislava – stock.adobe.com)

Why fight over texts?

Over 48 percent valued the time texting offered to compose thoughtful responses. Nearly four in 10 (38.74%) preferred the convenience of texting to convey their points quickly or to avoid in-person discussions.

Unfortunately, nearly 37 percent admit to reacting impulsively by engaging in text arguments. Another 32 percent initiated arguments in response to nasty messages.

Over one in five felt emboldened to argue via text, finding it easier than in-person confrontation. Meanwhile, 12 percent chose texting to hide behind their phones rather than face-to-face communication.

To understand the impact on relationships, 59.83 percent acknowledged the damage caused by fexting, while more than 40 percent didn’t perceive it negatively.

Nearly six in 10 believed that arguing via text prolonged conflicts, while 40 percent found that texting helped resolve disputes quicker, largely due to the time taken to consider responses.

Women in argument, upset
(© WavebreakMediaMicro – stock.adobe.com)

“One of the biggest contributors to argument and conflict between others is ineffective communication,” says Alex Honigman, a licensed Clinical Social Worker and relationship expert from Wit & Reason, in a media release.

“Where we may feel that text would be an appropriate way to gather our thoughts, they lack the nuances and subtleties of face-to-face interactions or even phone calls. Without vocal tone, facial expressions, or body language, the intended emotions or context behind the message is frequently misinterpreted,” Honigman continues.

“When you consider it, sending conflict related feelings and thoughts via text is almost always a blindside leading the recipient to defensiveness. The lag in text communication is also problematic it doesn’t always allow for immediate clarification or real-time dialogue, leading to misunderstandings or prolonged back-and-forth exchanges. Watching those bubbles, dots, or read receipts tends to drive us into anxious and impulsive reactions.”

SellCell’s 6 Practical Tips for Avoiding Negative Impacts of Fexting

  1. Resolve Face-to-Face: When safe, opt for in-person discussions to ensure better communication and understanding.
    2. Avoid Reply Traps: Sometimes, not replying to heated messages can prevent arguments.
    3. Type and Delete: Writing feelings down in notes helps process emotions without sending confrontational texts.
    4. Cut the Conversation Short: Clearly state a preference for in-person discussions instead of engaging in text debates.
    5. Avoid Overinterpretation: Understand that text lacks emotional cues; avoid reading too much into messages.
    6. Take a Breather: Consider a cooling-off period before responding to heated messages to avoid impulsive replies.

Methodology

SellCell surveyed a selection of smartphone owners to ask if they have ever engaged in arguing via text. It asked the 1,064 respondents a series of questions to ascertain why they argue over text, who they argue with, whether they find it damages their relationship, and how long it takes them to engage in an argument. SellCell held no personal information during the collection of survey data.

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