Txt me back.
What r u doin?
Pls txt me.
Who u with?
Y won’t you txt me?
I luv u!
R u there?
Ur mkng me angry!
To many teens, this one-sided texting conversation is hardly unfamiliar. However, it is concerning. And it’s a topic of discussion that should be brought up in any household where cellphone owning teens live. Overtexting is abusive. In fact, it can become a form of control when a boyfriend or girlfriend is constantly texting their Significant Other (SO) to the point that the other person feels like they’re suffocating.
My friend “Sue” described the situation of her friend “Molly” and her boyfriend “Josh”. When Sue and Molly were hanging out, Molly’s phone kept lighting up as Josh texted her. And each time, Molly would pick it up and text Josh back. Finally Sue had to say something because she felt like Molly would rather be hanging out with Josh than with her. Molly apologized and put the phone away. And for the next hour, the phone buzzed in Molly’s purse. When she checked it later, the texts that started out as innocent started getting angrier and angrier. And Josh and Molly got into a huge fight over it.
This problem is not uncommon.
The person who is being constantly texted feels hounded. They can’t do anything without their bf/gf popping up and interrupting their SO’s time away from them. If they text back, it will encourage more dialogue. If they don’t text back, it will result in a bunch of angry texts and most likely, a fight. And suddenly, rather than the smitten feelings they once felt over this person, they feel smothered and tempted to break up with them.
And the person who’s texting constantly is, first, texting because they care for and miss their bf/gf. Or maybe just because they’re bored. Or perhaps it’s just to let the other person know they’re thinking of them. And when they aren’t texted back, they worry something’s going on, especially when they both text each other constantly at other times. Are they cheating? Are they mad? Have they forgotten about them? Did something bad happen?
It’s possible that neither side means for this to become an abusive situation. But the truth is, when someone feels uncomfortable or imprisoned in the relationship, changes need to be made. But what can be done?
A website called thatsnotcool.com has tackled this particular situation through videos on the subject. Here’s one of their videos:
While humorous, the message couldn’t be more clear. But what I especially found interesting were the comments on the video from people going through this very thing. Here are just a few:
“i have this same situation. the thing is that we arent even dating. i like him and he likes me and we’re getting to know each other but he texts me a gazillion times a day and at least 15 calls a day and when i dont answer he gets really mad and sends constant txts and calls until i pick up. i really like him but i cant take talking on the phone that much.”
“omg. okay. this happens to me all the time with my boyfriend. he texts me every 20-30 minutes. he’s always like:”hey watchya up to?” and if i dont text him back, he says: “hey. r u there?” and he ends up spamming my phone. and i end up getting 100 texts by the end of the day. its so annoying. i hate it! >:O”
“i usually just text my boyfriend once & wait like 15 min then send it one more time if he dosent reply cause sometimes my phone wont send it the first. but i never go over two txt messages. i just wait & ask him what happen later. & that works for me cause i don’t seem clingy & i get my answer. if he doesn’t txt me for like an hour i send a babe?? here & there . i think it works out pretty good.”
“i like my boyfriend a lot. and i like texting him because hes always with his friends or girls i dont know. and it makes me feel better to text him. it makes me feel like he knows im still there for him and maybe he wont flurt with other girls. im not obsessive. i mean when he doesnt answer me i dont keep texting. but its hard for me not to. how can i stop feeling like i cant trust him?”
Texting etiquette is an important discussion to have with your teen, even if it’s bound to induce some major eye rolling in response. But don’t leave it alone. Even if you think they aren’t listening to you, if they hear it enough some of it is bound to seep in. Introduce the topic with your teen by asking them what might go on in someone’s mind if they are being constantly texted. And ask them why someone might feel the need to be the overtexter. Help them to understand both sides of the situation, and help them to come up with tools for discussion if they find themselves on either side of the fence.
What are some of the suggestions you have for parents of teens, or for teens themselves?