Psychiatrist Reveals How To Decode Relationship Texts

By Alice Duthie
on 10 March 2022

Picture this: You look confused as you casually glance at your text. The message sounds cold and you feel disregarded. You head down a rapid spiral of overthinking the meaning of what is after all just a single text.

We’ve all experienced miscommunication, which happens so easily when we are not talking face-to-face. The absence of body language, vocal tone and facial expressions makes it much more difficult to understand the other person.

Stanford educated psychiatrist Mimi Winsberg has recently released a book, “Speaking In Thumbs”, which decodes relationship texts so you don’t have to. Mimi helps her audience to identify red flags, evaluate the other person’s character through subtle signals, and facilitate effective communication when texting.

Deciphering Emojis

Woman texting on phone

Emojis can be a beneficial texting tool, as they substitute the facial expressions that are highly important when talking to someone in-person. However, Mimi says that “while emojis may be intended to add clarity to words, researchers have also found that the same emoji can be interpreted differently by different users, so emojis themselves can lead to confusion and misunderstanding”.

Mimi also shares research which indicates that frequent emoji users tend to be more introverted and more agreeable. On the other hand, people with lower neuroticism scores used emojis the least often. She advises her readers to look out for these subtle signals when online dating, and to avoid using emojis as a “shortcut” in self expression.

Grammar and Punctuation

Someone’s use of grammar and punctuation can reveal quite a lot about their personality – too much punctuation can appear over eager, while not enough can come off as dismissive. According to Mimi, “question marks are a sign of extroversion, as extroverts are perhaps more prone to ask questions. Overusing the exclamation mark is also correlated with higher levels of neuroticism and a lack of openness”.

So What Are The “Green Flags”?

Josh Hild at Pexels

Mimi suggests that genuine compliments and affirmations indicate the potential for an enduring relationship. Other “green flags” include showing empathy, asking questions and demonstrating an understanding of the other individual. To limit miscommunication from your end, try texting in full sentences. This will help to avoid any confusion or potential conflict.

Check out to decode your relationship texts and successfully transition from Speaking In Tongues to Speaking In Thumbs.

Speaking in Tongues is published by Pan Macmillan, RRP $34.99. Available in all good book stores.

About Dr Mimi Winsberg

Dr Mimi Winsberg is a Stanford-trained psychiatrist with twenty-five years of clinical experience. She is a cofounder of the telehealth startup Brightside and has been the on-site psychiatrist at the Facebook Wellness Center. Winsberg appears regularly on Good Morning America, and her work has been featured in GQ, Glamour, Fast Company, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, and Business Insider. She has a B.A. in Neuroscience from Harvard College. Speaking in Thumbs is her first book.

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