My goal is to help everyone understand the patterns that develop in their relationships, and figure out which ones should raise red flags.
How to Know if He or She Is Texting Someone Else While in a Relationship
You two are sitting there, enjoying whatever you two enjoy or pretend to enjoy, and your significant other's phone beeps at the sound of a text message.
How he or she responds to that "beep" can tell you whether to be concerned or not.
Since you're not an overbearing boyfriend or girlfriend, you're not going to ask who just texted. But as a normal human being, you are probably going to wonder who it is, especially early on in the relationship.
The following are some signs that you may want to pay attention to. These signs can end up allaying or confirming your potential worries.
This article will go over:
- When you shouldn't worry about who your boyfriend or girlfriend is texting.
- When to worry about who they are texting.
- What to do if they are texting an ex.
Signs You Shouldn't Worry If Your Boyfriend or Girlfriend Is Texting Someone Else
First, you want to notice their body language: How quickly do they check their phone? What expression is on their face and how long does it stay there? Does it gradually fade after the initial reading or does it stay there as they reply?
It's Probably Nothing If
- They maintain the same expression they had prior to the message. If they smile, look at how they are smiling. If you know your significant other, you should know their smiles because, yes, there are varying degrees, and yes, they do mean different things. If it's a generic kind of smile or chuckle, chances are it's just one of their friends or someone completely harmless, or unimportant. You shouldn’t worry unless it’s a sly, secretive smile, and they don’t respond or act skiddish when you ask them who they’re texting.
- They don't respond. If they don't even bother texting back or it's a delayed response, that usually means the person fell under that “unimportant” umbrella. However, depending on their reaction to the text, this could also mean that it’s someone they don’t want to text back in front of you. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’re cheating, but it could raise some red flags.
- They don't hide the text. If they don't change their angle to you to prevent you from seeing their phone, then they're not concerned about you seeing it. In that case, it's very unlikely that they're trying to hide anything from you.
- They let you handle the phone. If they don't have their phone on them when the message comes (it's in the other room, on the table, wherever) and they ask you to bring it to them, that means they don't care if you see who texted them. Furthermore, it probably means they don't have anything to hide. Clearly, they don’t care if you see who they are texting or what the conversation is about.
- They share the message. They openly tell you what the message was about or who it was from. Chances are they won't lie about either. If they do, you're worse off than you thought (sorry).
I can't even begin to tell you how many times, after about six or seven message exchanges between an ex-girlfriend of mine and someone else, I heard all about it—all about it. In my experience, girls are much more likely to get texts from someone who just needs to talk. (Newsflash: girls like to vent to girls about other girls, and guys open up to girls much more than they do their bros). And that's usually all it is.
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So guys, be patient and don't take it too much to head. And if your girl wants to confide in you about the gossip/venting, or whatever the girls call it these days, listen. It's important (to them).
When to Worry About Your Boyfriend or Girlfriend's Texting
While it's generally best to trust your significant other and not act like a jealous fool, sometimes there are some legitimate red flags that come up with regards to their texting habits.
- Their laugh is different. If they laugh, smile, or chuckle in a way that they laugh, smile, or chuckle with you—or used to, anyway—that might be cause for concern. Be careful here though, some people just have a singular laugh that sounds the same for any measure of humor. If that is the case, just give them a pass. Same goes for the type who just laughs at everything because, well, they laugh at everything.
- They ignore you to respond to the text. If they respond to the message in a very focused manner, appearing oblivious to anything else going on, then that is a bad sign. That whole tidbit about keeping their attention or they'll find someone else who will, yeah, those are words to live by in relationships. However, this isn’t always necessarily a reason to freak out. They could be having an intense discussion with a friend or family member. It’s always better to ask than to assume they’re cheating on you. Pay attention to how they respond when you ask them who they’re texting.
- They hide the text from you. Changing the angle of their phone to prevent you from seeing it is a huge red flag. Odds are, they're not throwing you a surprise party.
- They hold on to their phone. Instead of returning their phone to where it was prior (pocket, purse, and so on) they keep it in their hand. Again, this could mean nothing: it could be thoughtless, or they may actually need the phone to check their email or get directions. They could be playing a game or decide to read the news after checking their texts. Or, it could mean something: they may be expecting another reply and are too excited to get it to put the phone down. If you know your partner well, you should know their phone habits. If they are acting in some unusual manner, that could be cause for suspicion.
- They leave the room to text. They text when in another room, then for "some reason," they stop when you come. Sometimes this is just a simple gesture of politeness. But sometimes, there's another reason behind it. If your significant other is consistently texting in a manner that is covert and secretive, then that's something you need to think about.
- They get anxious if they don't have their phone. If you happen to be holding their phone and they hear it receive a text, they grab for it and appear antsy until they get it, especially if you play the "keep-away" game. That’s when you take their phone and playfully continue to withhold it from them, to their increasing irritation. (Don’t play the keep-away game. It's annoying.) You might be able to see a certain level of discomfort or anxiety on their face when you have their phone. If they never let you have their phone, there's probably a reason. (Really, all it takes is one keep-away game too many and you lose any phone-holding privileges. Or, they just have something to hide. That could be the case, too.)
If one of the above things happen, you can try to divert their attention with questions or conversation. If their body language is passive and disinterested, that may be a sign that they're simply talking to someone more interesting than you, which, sadly, could really be no one's fault but your own.
What to Do If Your Boyfriend or Girlfriend Is Texting Their Ex
What if you find out it’s an ex they're texting? In that case, and in my opinion, it is entirely appropriate to ask what the ex is talking to them about and why. But keep in mind that how you ask is super important. Ask genuinely and from a place of curiosity, not aggressively like you're accusing him or her something. If you approach the situation with an open mind and light-hearted attitude, you’re much more likely to get a positive reaction from your significant other. Believe it or not, some people are still friends with their exes and still do text them from time to time. And believe it or not, it can mean absolutely nothing.
If, for some reason, you feel your significant other may still be tied to a particular ex in some way, then by all means, talk to your partner about it and make sure you are both on the same page. Remember: In any scenario, your approach is everything.
There's no foolproof method to determine if the person they're texting or the subject of those texts is actually a threat to you or your relationship—not without snooping, at least, which I do not recommend.
Honestly, if you're in a relationship where you worry that much about who they're texting, then maybe you two are in the wrong relationship. Or, maybe you just need to get over yourself and stop worrying so damn much.
If in your heart of hearts it’s actually starting to get to you and make you genuinely wonder, it's much more productive to make them aware of your concerns and try to talk about it. Then you have their attention and you can sit down and have an adult conversation about what exactly is bothering you and why. But resort to that sit-down only if it's a recurring issue that you believe is a legitimate cause for concern. Chances are, it’s not.
Be smart, and most of all, trust your partner. At the end of the day, they’re with you, not the person they’re texting. Don't let the simple human nature of insecurity-based jealousy get the best of you. Because when it does, it prevents you from offering your best to your significant other. And that’s unfair to both of you.