When you’re in a serious relationship, arguments are inevitable. Sometimes they’re over something stupid, like who forgot to unload the dishwasher. Other times, they can be more serious. Today’s topic is how to defuse a text fight as calmly and compassionately as possible.
Obviously, this is much easier said than done. And as you probably know, it gets even trickier over text. One bad text fight leaves a lasting mark. So, how to defuse a text fight without the help of body language, tone of voice, and face-to-face interaction?
Remember, no matter what you’re arguing about, you’re both just trying to get your points across and be heard. If you’re in the middle of a war of words and need advice on how to defuse a text fight, just keep reading!
1. Let them express how they feel
Nobody likes to feel ignored. It’s important to let your partner explain their thoughts, and then make sure you understand where they are coming from by paraphrasing—this is one of the best ways to keep a conversation from going south. When you take this step, you show them that you are trying to understand their viewpoint. You also provide them with the opportunity to clear the air. For example, if they said something they didn’t mean, or what you heard wasn’t what they intended to say.
“If I understand correctly, what you’re trying to say is…”
How to defuse a text fight? Put yourself in your partner’s shoes and empathize with what they are feeling. For example, if they are upset because you had to cancel plans again due to work, try saying something along the lines of:
“It’s never my intention to hurt you. Staying at work late with the team doesn’t mean that I don’t care about you. But I understand how you feel.”
3. Communicate how you feel
Share with your partner how you feel about the situation. Now that you’ve taken the time to listen to their side of the argument and empathize with their emotions, it’s their turn to do the same for you:
“I felt hurt by your anger. It makes me feel bad that you question my commitment to our relationship. I love you.”
“I’m afraid of…”
“I’m sad because…”
4. Learn when to let go
When your emotions are running high, it can be easy to get caught up in the rush of trying to win an argument. But that comes the cost of hurting your partner. It’s important to remember that there is no “winner” of a relationship—the goal of this conversation is to reach some common ground so that you can put this fight to bed. Try texting something like:
“I care more about our relationship than having this fight.”
How To Avoid Starting A Text Fight
So, before you start a text war, try taking these steps to process your emotions and avoid doing something you’ll inevitably regret:
1. Put down your phone.
When your emotions are high, the best thing to do is just drop your phone and walk away.
2. Take a deep breath and calm down.
Open up a notebook and vent out your angry feelings, then rip out the page and throw it away. After that, try going for a run, taking a bath, or doing anything else that relaxes you. Take as much time as you need.
3. Analyze the situation.
Now that you are thinking clearly, you need to start planning out your next steps to rectifying the situation.
How to defuse a text fight if it was your fault:
Send a short, apologetic text acknowledging responsibility and offering to do something to make the situation better (these are the two key elements of an effective apology). Don’t make excuses or shift the blame away from yourself. For example: “I’m sorry if you took it wrong” or “I’m sorry about what I said, but you make me so angry sometimes.” I know it’s tempting, these kinds of texts can just reignite the situation and make it even worse.
Meet and discuss the situation in person (or via phone or FaceTime if a face-to-face interaction isn’t possible). Hash out how you can fix the problem, your next step together, and how you can avoid a similar situation in the future. And of course, don’t forget the all-important makeup kiss!
“I’m sorry about what happened today, and I want to apologize. Can we FaceTime?”
“I really regret what I said; I was angry, and I didn’t handle the situation well. Can we meet later today? I owe you an apology.”
“I feel really horrible about what happened, and I want to apologize to you in person. When are you free?”
If it wasn’t your fault:
Keep your text short and sweet and DON’T attack your partner. If you start attacking your partner via text, then the situation will inevitably escalate, or your partner might just go silent and stop reading or responding to your texts altogether. Either way, sending a heated, angry text will never resolve the argument. Let your partner know that you’re upset, but show them that you’re remaining rational and want to have a mature discussion.
- Acknowledge your own feelings (I feel angry, hurt, sad, disappointed, frustrated, confused, etc.)
- Ask to hear their side of the story (I want to know how you feel)
- Set up an in-person meeting (or at least a phone call or FaceTime), where you can really discuss the situation.
“I am sad about what happened today. I’d like to hear how you feel about the situation. Can we meet later tonight?”
“I know I was very angry earlier, but I’m ready to talk now and I want to hear your side of the story. Please call me.”
Main Takeaways For How To Defuse A Text Fight
Short and Sweet: A longer text puts you more at risk. Why? Because your partner could misinterpret your words. Try to keep it to one or two sentences that convey your point as concisely as possible.
Constructive: Your texts should convey your focus on working together to resolve the issue, move forward, and avoid future fights. Texting insults and hitting below the belt can do irreparable damage to your relationship. Feeling good for a few seconds because you “got something off your chest” isn’t worth jeopardizing the future of your entire relationship.
Positive: Instead of threatening to break up, let your partner know you want to hear their side of the story. Or, if the fight was your fault, take the step of offering solutions to atone for your actions and prevent future fights.
In the Moment: A common mistake that couples make all the time is bringing up past fights. The past argument could be tied to the current fight or entirely arbitrary. Digging up past resentments will never help you resolve your current argument, and it’s a sure fire way to inflame the situation. Stay in the present moment. Now is not the time to bring up every single time your partner has ever disappointed you or acted like a jerk.
Pitfalls To Look Out For
Fighting over text can get so nasty so quickly, largely because the only thing you have to go off of is words. It’s important to look out for common mistakes that happen during text fights so that you can stay calm, cool, and collected, and resolve your argument in a way that’s most beneficial for both of you.
Lack of Tone: No matter how hard you try, you’re going to interpret their message through the lens of your own anger, sadness, or disappointment. When you’re already feeling upset or hurt, you’re going to take everything the wrong way—even if it wasn’t your partner’s intention.
You Can’t Read Their Body Language: You can analyze their words, but you can’t see their reaction or their facial expression. Without these context clues, things can escalate quickly.
You Get Caught Up in the Moment: We’ve all been there before. Suddenly your fingers are typing faster than your brain. While it might feel good, you don’t take the time to really read (or think about) what you’re saying before you hit “send.”
Waiting Makes You Angrier: In person, you have an immediate reaction, but over text, there might be some time in between replies, which can increase your frustration and anger. Your partner can also stonewall you and go radio silent, leaving you hanging for hours (or even days), stewing over what he last said.
Still set on firing off a nasty message? Ask yourself two questions before you hit “send”:
Is this how I would like to be treated?
Am I ready to face the consequences of this message?
When All Else Fails And You Can’t Figure Out How To Defuse A Text Fight
So, you’re in the middle of an awful text argument and are ready to bury the hatchet? There’s always this failsafe text:
Send Puss in Boots followed by “I’m sorry about what happened today, and I want to apologize. Can we meet/Facetime?”