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Textationships: The new dating trend among Gen Z

Updated on: 05 February,2023 09:18 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Nidhi Lodaya |

Move over situationships, the Gen Z are engaged in “textationships”—where a phone is the only touch they know, and chat-friendly lingo is their only weapon

Textationships: The new dating trend among Gen Z

For the ones who thought they were in a “complicated” relationship, it couldn’t have been as bad as what youngsters these days have. Textationships have become a common thing now where text is the only medium of communication

When 24-year-old Manisha Iyer met the boy she was texting since 2019 for the first time last weekend, she was shocked. “He came across as calm and understanding [on chat] and I had a different image of him. But when I met him, he was not the person I had in mind,” says the aspiring lawyer. Iyer is not the only one who has been in what Gen-Z calls “textationship”, which  Urban Dictionary defines as, “a friendly, romantic, sexual or intimate relationship, either brief or long-term, between two people whereby text messaging is utilised as the primary form of communication throughout.” 

Iyer came across his profile on the dating app, Hinge, where after small talk, she was about to unmatch because his views came across a tad too strong. It was only when he shared a song by rock band Oasis, that she reconsidered her decision. After a year of chatting, sharing information about each other’s families and other problems as they spoke till the crack of dawn, Iyer recalls that the boy suggested they “give it a try”. “I said that I couldn’t be with someone I only know through text,” says Iyer. However, soon things fizzled out. Why did she meet him then? “Out of curiosity,” says Iyer. “There was comfort.” 

Salma Prabhu; Manisha Iyer and Anshu Salma Prabhu; Manisha Iyer and Anshu 

According to a 2018 study by Sara McGuire, published on an online infographic platform Venngage titled, Can you fall in love with someone through text message?, which conducted a 55-minute experiment, no one fell “truly, madly, deeply in love” but 81 per cent exchanged contact numbers at the end. The study also showed that 50 per cent of the participants found it easier to discuss personal topics through text. Navi Mumbai-based clinical psychologist Salma Prabhu agrees that “one can develop very strong attraction and feelings over text as this enables one to be there for more time than meeting in person. It builds up excitement.” 

Mumbai-based marketing professional, Milesh Vyas also remembers feeling an “instant connection” with a girl he started talking to on Instagram after “sliding into her DMs” during the pandemic. “There was a flow of conversation with similar likes and dislikes.” The 30-year-old started chatting on Instagram which later shifted to WhatsApp and Snapchat, and despite being in the same city, they never met because they lived far away and COVID made it difficult to travel. Texting someone without knowing them can be a cat-fishing trap and this thought did cross Vyas’ mind, but he was reassured when they got on a video call. The whole relationship was romantic and flirty, according to Vyas, where he would send birthday gifts to her office address. “I’m not sure why I opened up to her,” he says about their relationship, which has now gone back to square one where they occasionally chat. They now just share memes occasionally. 

According to Prabhu, the reason why people opt for “textationships” is because, “texting creates a great adrenaline rush”. She also adds that just being on text gives them a chance to keep physical distance, as they may not be ready to move to the next level. Another advantage to such kinds of relationships is that one doesn’t have to worry about “personal inhibitions and complexes such as body image or be conscious of how they look or talk”. Prabhu also explains that language barriers and family restrictions can also play havoc. 

That could be the reason why the textationship between Jaipur-based Anshu and a Lahore-based boy didn’t work, even though he really didn’t give her a reason. “In 2016, a guy followed me on Instagram and slid into my DMs. I found him cute,” says Anshu. It was only in 2021, when she was in Australia for her Masters, that they started to talk and she realised that, “he was asking genuine questions and we started discussing our relationship status and our past experiences,” says the 25-year-old writer. Soon they were watching TV shows virtually, and were on call 24x7. Within three months, they began discussing their family, their history of panic attacks to the extent that, “it became pretty real”. However, despite the guy telling Anshu that this was not a “relationship”, she says, “it was nice sharing something with a guy I had never met”. As every textationships, it eventually ended via a simple text on WhatsApp. Anshu says that even though this was on text, the “breakup felt real”. What’s next for Anshu? Would she do this again? As she says logically, “No, I wouldn’t consciously want to do this all over again. But I have realised that before you know it, you are already into such a situation so it is pretty easy for me to fall into this, but I would try to not go beyond a month or two.” 

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