Are You Dealing With A 'Textertunist'? Here's How To Spot This Annoying Habit.

Here’s what it means — and why this behavior can be so frustrating.
Though dealing with a "textertunist" can be frustrating, their behavior may not be as rude as it seems.
Brothers91 via Getty Images
Though dealing with a "textertunist" can be frustrating, their behavior may not be as rude as it seems.

Do you have someone in your life who doesn’t respond to your texts for hours or even days at a time? And when they finally do get back to you, it’s because they need something? It may go something like this:

You: Hey! Do you still want to get dinner on Saturday?

[Four days pass]

Them: Sorry, I can’t this weekend actually. By the way, can you put me in touch with your babysitter?

Or...

You: Did you see Kane Brown is doing a show on Jan. 27? Should we get tickets?

[A week later]

Them: Let me check my calendar. Also, can you send me that chili recipe — I want to make it for a potluck tonight!

If this sounds familiar, you may be dealing with a “textertunist.” A textertunist is a person who behaves in a seemingly opportunistic way via text, only replying to your messages when they need a favor or have something to gain from the interaction.

The radio silence can be frustrating when you’re waiting on a response. And if this kind of thing happens often enough, it might even make you feel a little bit used.

“The original texter may feel that the relationship is more utilitarian or functional rather than reciprocal and equal,” clinical psychologist Aarti Gupta, founder and director of TherapyNest in Palo Alto, California, told HuffPost.

It’s easy to write off texting as some frivolous form of communication — but we shouldn’t. A 2014 Gallup poll found that texting had become the dominant way of communicating for Americans younger than 50. According to one 2016 survey of millennials, 75% of respondents said they would prefer a cellphone that could only be used for texting over one that could only be used for making phone calls. In other words, texting is a big part of how we stay connected to the people in our lives.

“We use texting to emotionally invest in our personal relationships,” therapist Nicole Saunders, owner of Therapy Charlotte in North Carolina, told HuffPost. “When there is a lack of reciprocity and responses seem consistently one-sided or transactional, we may feel a lack of social support or, even worse, used and taken advantage of. Nobody expects to routinely feel those vulnerable emotions within a friendship.”

“When there is a lack of reciprocity and responses seem consistently one-sided or transactional, we may feel a lack of social support or, even worse, used and taken advantage of.”

- Nicole Saunders, therapist in North Carolina

That said, if this irritating habit is your only gripe with a person — they’re otherwise a warm and attentive partner, friend or relative — then the behavior probably isn’t as ill-intentioned as it may seem.

Consider, for example, that the person may not be deliberately disregarding you. Saunders offered a more charitable explanation.

“Many people are inundated with emails, DMs, individual texts and group text messages. Perhaps the person you’re texting isn’t actually ignoring you,” she said. “It’s very possible they are avoiding all electronic messaging due to overwhelm. But then when they need something, they are forced to jump back in.”

Sophie Y. said her husband is “the most caring, do-anything-for-you type of person” and “shows his love in many ways.” Texting, however, is just not his strong suit.

“I text him periodically during the day; he never texts me back,” she said. “Then I’ll get a random text from him asking about something he needs, [is] looking for, etc. He’s a great husband, just not a great texter.”

Some of us frankly have a harder time staying on top of texting than others. Remembering to respond to messages can be a struggle for people with anxiety or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and for those who have a lot on their plate at the moment.

It’s worth giving the textertunist the benefit of the doubt, Saunders said.

“Instead of jumping to conclusions that could damage the relationship, pick up the phone and simply ask if something more is going on,” she said.

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