How To Know If You Should Text

01 Apr

The assumption that texting too much comes off as needy and desperate needs to be broken down. The idea comes from two sources.

Wondering if you should text

In the early stages of dating there can be a lot of anguish around whether you should text. More often than not, I find that people spend many unnecessary minutes crafting the perfect response. Or, they painstakingly note when the ‘read’, ‘seen’ or  ‘typing’  notifications appear and from there, they draw conclusions about the relationship’s potential. They create a variety of rules to curb their anxieties such as waiting 24 hours before replying to a message.

There’s the dreaded internal debate about whether to ‘double text’ (texting twice in a row) or even, oh horror, consider triple texting. It makes dating quite draining and stressful. If this is you, let me help clarify a few things so that finding love can feel a little more enjoyable and fun.

Why all this angst about texting in the first place? It usually boils down to not wanting to appear desperate or needy. There is an assumption that coming across as such is repelling and unattractive, something to be avoided at all costs. While there may be an element of truth in the assumption, it is far from how most dating practices come across.

The assumption of needy and desperate needs to be broken down. I think originally the idea comes from two sources:

The first one is from experiences whereby someone becomes overbearing and disrespectful of personal boundaries. For example, someone who sends several consecutive demanding, aggressive or reassurance-seeking texts or calls incessantly in a short period of time without a real need for it.

Let’s say you are cycling home from work in busy traffic. By the time you get home roughly half an hour away from work you see five missed calls and two texts from your partner demanding to know where you are. Or, you have been on two dates with someone you have just met online, and they want to know whether you love them, or they want you to meet their family because you are the most amazing person they have ever met. These 2 examples illustrate behaviour that is not respectful or reasonable. This may be construed as needy and desperate, and this can be draining to receive. You would usually end up losing interest in that person.

The second source of the negative labeling around being needy comes from people who fear relationships and intimacy. The so-called commitment-phobes, who don’t want to acknowledge the dread they have with romance. So they project their disdain for closeness onto the other person and blame them for being needy and desperate.

Say you have been dating for three months and you want to know whether to take things further and agree on exclusivity (a reasonable request) and your partner replies with some vague holding message such as ‘let’s not rush things’. You then bring the topic up another three months later (still a reasonable request!), and your partner then accuses you of being demanding. This reaction to a reasonable request gives ‘desperate’ a bad name when in fact the anxiety lies with the partner not you. Nevertheless you feel it’s your fault, and you end up blaming yourself for any subsequent breakup when your partner was never capable of intimacy in the first place.

We need to think of texting behaviours on a continuum where at one end we have an incessant need for reassurance or constant demands, and at the other, a reluctance to engage. If you fall somewhere in the middle, YOU ARE FINE. It is ok to triple text over a 24 hour period if you are excited about someone!

There is a difference between texting the same thing three times (reassurance seeking) or becoming increasingly annoyed in your text messages (demanding) and sharing three different texts with benign stuff (being excited). One may be a good morning text, then you send a link to an article you read related to something you talked about the other day, third text may be asking how their day went. 

What if you don’t get a reply from your triple text. THAT’S OK. It can mean a number of things: Your person may be busy, not ready to reply just yet (possibly thinking about what to write next), may be holding themselves back because they fear they will come across as desperate and needy (that goes both ways!).  It is possible they’re not as “into you” as you would hope, or they just dislike texting and plan to call you tomorrow.

The thing to remember is that you need to be a little vulnerable in order to ignite the romantic spark. Playing hard to get, trying to be mysterious or restraining your excitement all sabotage progress in dating.

What to do.

Suspend your expectations of what the other person should or should not be doing. Listen to the actions. Let your triple text hang and see what response comes back. Use it as an opportunity to gauge which of the above options it could be.

If you have asked a question and they ignore it, notice that. Allow for some time to pass, give the person a chance to respond. In the meantime use your waiting time to live your life. Make plans with friends, attend to your hobbies. You have only just met this person – two, four and even twelve weeks is ‘early days’.

If you start getting anxious and want reassurance, it’s fine to reach out. Say a day or two has passed since your triple text, and your anxiety is unbearable, check in with the person – do they want to see you again? If there’s no reply, then you have your answer: it’s not you, it’s them. The triple text didn’t ‘scare them away’, it brought out the fact you are not a priority to them.

If you find yourself feeling the pressure of self-imposed dating rules or needing advice about how best to navigate different communication styles, get in touch today and book in a complimentary consultation with me.

by Dr Madeleine Mason Roantree

Psychologist

Madeleine has over 15 years of experience in psychology, where she is trained in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Applied Positive Psychology. She is currently undertaking a PhD in Counselling Psychology, and is member of the British Psychological Society, the International Positive Psychology Association & Dating Industry Professionals Network.More by this author

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