'Textationships' are on the rise, but dating experts will help you avoid the red flags

In between liking and swiping, falling down the 'textationships' rabbit hole has become all-too common

woman texting with surprised look on her face while outside against a red wall
(Image credit: Westend61/Getty Images)

"Textationships" are racking up major screen time, so don't be surprised by those weekly iPhone stats.  

In between liking and swiping, falling down the DM rabbit hole has become quite a familiar 2023 dating trend. Lengthy text conversations tend to border on the new OnlyPlans phenomenon, making it difficult to reach a new level of a relationship—you know, the one that requires you to meet in person. 

"When people are in the process of getting to know each other, it’s common to explore regular texting back and forth," says Shannon Smith, resident dating expert at Plenty of Fish. "Every situation is different, though."

If your thumbs are starting to ache and you're looking to move past the texting phase (and that dating burnout), allow the experts to help you break the "textationship" cycle. 

Meet the expert: Shannon Smith

Shannon is the resident dating expert at Plenty of Fish, a Match Group dating app with personalized connection options that help "create the same magic online that you would IRL."

What is a 'textationship'?

A "textationship" is defined as a relationship based on texting, with little to no face-to-face interaction, according to Smith. 

While the connotation is generally negative, a textationship isn't all bad. 

"It can be a great way to get to know someone without the pressure of an in-person meeting as a safe space to express feelings without fear of judgment," says sex-and-relationship expert Melissa Stone. "Being able to get to know someone completely through texting can be an opportunity to build trust and an emotional connection before meeting them."

But let's say you've built that connection and want to explore the relationship's possibilities. Here's how to avoid getting sucked into the land of DMs to the point of no return.

Meet the expert: Melissa Stone

Melissa Stone is a sex and relationship expert at  Joy Love Dolls, the "world's leading authority on sexual exploration, adult toys and realistic dolls.

woman on phone texting while on the edge of the bed; her face is not visible

(Image credit: The Good Brigade/Getty Images)

How do you get out of textationships?

1. Be honest

It seems like a no-brainer, but you have to be honest with yourself and the people you're pursuing. 

"Be upfront with your expectations and boundaries—communicate what you want out of a romantic relationship," Smith says. 

If you're looking for something serious, that is something you need to articulate from the get-go, that way, you can weed out the daters who are only looking for casual conversations and commitments. 

2. Be proactive

Don't wait for someone else to set the tone—show them what you want right off the bat. 

"it is important to set boundaries and communicate your expectations," Stone says. "This can include agreeing to meet in person or scheduling regular video or phone calls. It is also important to ensure that you both are comfortable with the boundaries that have been set."

3. Watch out for the red flags

If it's taking a potential suitor several days to tell you what he or she's watching on Netflix, consider that a warning. The effort a person puts into their text communication is likely the same as what they're going to put into an actual relationship...if you get to that stage. 

"Keep an eye on how communicative the other person is. If it feels like the effort is one-sided or there are long periods of silence, they may not actually have intentions to meet in person," Smith suggests.

Likewise, author Hayley Quinn, who just released Do This, Not That: Dating suggests differentiating virtual vs. in-person connections.

"Don't get caught in the trap of messaging someone like you're in a relationship with them, before you've built that relationship in person," she warns. "If someone, for whatever reason, is unwilling to meet up in person, then you're missing out on a huge piece of the puzzle in getting to know them."

Meet the expert: Hayley Quinn

Hayley Quinn is a London-based dating coach and author who strives for women to "have a more fulfilling dating life." You can catch her advice on her Ted X talk, BBC interviews and within the pages of publications like Elle. Her new book, Do This, Not That: Dating is out now

4. Face the facts

It's never easy dealing with rejection, and we totally understand the pain that goes along with it, but sometimes it's necessary.

"If someone is regularly flaking out on you when it comes time to meet face-to-face, it’s likely not the right fit and time to move on," Smith says. 

But this isn't necessarily a bad thing, or even defeat. Take it as a sign that Cupid is pointing you in a better, more suitable direction. 

No matter how you go about looking for love this year, we wish you a successful journey. Be sure to have a look at our expert-backed first-date tips for an extra boost of confidence.

Danielle Valente
Digital News Writer

Need a TV show recommendation? Maybe a few decor tips? Danielle, a digital news writer at Future, has you covered. Her work appears throughout the company’s lifestyle brands, including My Imperfect Life, Real Homes, and woman&home. Mainly, her time is spent at My Imperfect Life, where she’s attuned to the latest entertainment trends and dating advice for Gen Z.

Before her time at Future, Danielle was the editor of Time Out New York Kids, where she got to experience the best of the city from the point of view of its littlest residents. Before that, she was a news editor at Elite Daily. Her work has also appeared in Domino, Chowhound, and amNewYork, to name a few. 

When Danielle’s not writing, you can find her testing out a new recipe, reading a book (suggestions always welcome), or rearranging the furniture in her apartment…again.