What's A Textationship?

More relationships begin online now than ever before. Pew Research Center reports that nearly half of American adults under the age of 30 have tried online dating, and a 2019 study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences explained how dating apps have become the most popular way to find romantic partners.


As the dating landscape changes, so do relationship norms. Now, a good first date might be replaced with a good first text exchange. And where daters once tried to perfectly time hand-holding or a flirty smile, they now think over when to send a heart or winky face emoji.

These digitalized versions of relationship milestones can be exciting, especially when they lead up to in-person sparks later. However, some online matches may never make it offline. And of those that do, some may notice that the majority of their communication remains online. If either scenario sounds familiar, you may be trapped in a textationship.

How to spot a textationship

Even if you're unfamiliar with the term "textationship," you've likely been in one. Urban Dictionary defines it as "a friendly, romantic, sexual or intimate relationship, either brief or long-term, between two people whereby text messaging is utilized as the primary form of communication throughout." Think of a textationship as a situationship that only exists through messages — you text each other frequently, like an official couple, but little relationship progress is ever made.


Prescott Psychotherapy & Wellness says that a textationship may be a way for someone to stay in touch without engaging in the emotional vulnerability involved in face-to-face interactions. This could be to protect their own feelings or simply to avoid committing to a relationship they're not truly invested in.

However, there's rarely a winner in this type of online-only romance. Limiting communication to text messages leaves out tone and body language. Texts may be appropriate for delivering quick, simple information, but deeper conversations — the ones that actually build meaningful relationships — often require talking in person.

Should you end your textationship?

A textationship may work if you and your partner mutually agree that meeting up isn't a priority. Depending on your dating goals, texting could be enough to keep you feeling connected and satisfied. But problems often arise when one person wants to see the other in real life.


If you're the one growing tired of tapping away at your phone keyboard, try to initiate a low-pressure meetup. Suggest a neutral gathering that isn't overly romantic, just in case your texting partner isn't sure what kind of relationship they want yet. Skip the fancy-schmancy place with a dress code, and opt for a casual food spot or quick drinks at a local bar instead.

If you've already met offline, but your communication as of late only happens through messages, be upfront about your desire to meet again. Hopefully, they'll return the favor and be honest about their wishes, too — even if it might mean finding out that you're not on the same page.