Dealing with Texting Anxiety
You know the deal. You like some, really like them. You’re texting over Whatsapp or Instagram and you just want to know how they’re feeling. But what about when you get a little worried? You double-texted and now they haven’t replied – have you put them off? It’s a battlefield to know exactly how to play the game. Dr. Morgan Anderson is a clinical psychologist and relationship coach based out of San Diego, California. Her mission is to help women break toxic dating patterns and finally attract the great relationship they want. We couldn’t wait to ask her all of the burning questions that we’ve had rolling around our heads on texting anxiety!
1. “I’m worried I would bother him if I were to send him too many messages – like I don’t want it to be ‘over the line’ and ruin the friendship that we already have…”
Dr. Morgan: There could be a lot of potential things at play if this is how you’re feeling. First off, I just want to acknowledge that technology has made communicating with our crushes easier and at the same time – more complicated than ever. My clients will often tell me how anxious they become when they see their crush watched their IG story but didn’t reply to the last text they sent, or if they see their crush is out with other people instead of with them. Social media and our phones have added lots of “fuel to the fire” for anxiously attached daters. So how do we navigate this new frontier? There’s a few things to keep in mind if you are experiencing texting anxiety.
Good relationships take time to build. A slow and consistent dating pace is usually best when it comes to building a healthy long-term connection. If you find you are obsessing over someone and wanting to communicate with them constantly, this may be a sign that you are anxiously attached and over-investing in the relationship too quickly. It is a good idea to take a step back, and take time to care for yourself and invest some time back into YOU.
On the other hand, in a secure healthy relationship we need to be able to communicate freely and openly. We need to be able to trust that our partner can give us feedback if they need space, or if they prefer a slower relationship-building pace. Instead of analysing our every move in relationships, it is better to be yourself, show up as you are, and trust that if the relationship is meant for you, the two of you will communicate about what is working and what is not. If you have an unavailable partner, who causes you to feel you are ‘too much’, maybe they don’t respond for days, or have periods of ‘pulling away’ this can often lead to feeling like you don’t want to text too much. A good healthy relationship should have you feeling understood, validated and trusting that whatever you do, the two of you will work through it. It can also be really helpful to talk about communication preferences – everyone is different about this. Some of us prefer a phone call, and some of us are all-day texters, some of us only look at our phones at night. Make sure you and your partner can talk about what your preferences are to avoid texting anxiety.
2. “I don’t like being the last one ending a text conversation…”
Dr. Morgan: I would ask you why you don’t like to end the conversation? What emotions does it bring up for you? Is it the worry that they will not respond? Worry that you ‘care too much’? I think the issue here is deeper than just worrying about the text conversation. To me, it likely means that you feel that you are more interested than your crush is, or that you fear that they might be interested in you. I think in order to work through this texting anxiety, having an honest conversation with them about what they want and how the relationship is going can be helpful. Additionally, you may try focusing on self-soothing techniques and taking care of you when you feel anxiety coming up around this concern.
3. “I’m not really in a relationship with this guy but we have this emotional connection. I want to express myself but am afraid if I text too much, I will show him too much affection…”
Dr. Morgan: When you have an undefined relationship it can bring up a lot of questions. Examples include: “What are we? Where is this going? Does this person like me?” When we become afraid we will be texting ‘too much’ and we start to stop ourselves from being who we are in love, we cut ourselves off from the opportunity to receive the type of relationship we need. To navigate this, I would say, start with yourself. Are you needing some extra support, do you feel tired/lonely/angry/hungry?
Make sure you can meet any needs by you simply engaging in self-care. If you still want to reach out to the person after you have made an effort to care for yourself-then by all means, reach out. You need to be able to be yourself in relationships, and you stifling who you are, it does not do you nor the other person any good.
4. “Before sending each message, I always feel anxious that I won’t get the ‘ideal’ response I expected…”
Dr. Morgan: This is likely a sign of a bigger concern within the relationship. Are you feeling that the person is uninterested in you? Does this texting anxiety show up in other areas of your life as well? It is so important to approach situations with no expectations. Remember, we can only control our actions, and the way we react to things. We need to let go of expectations. It can be helpful to view other people’s behavior as information. We are always gathering information about our relationships and then we get to decide who we want to grow closer to, and who we need to set boundaries with.
5. “I’m worried that he would misunderstand me over a text and what if I get ghosted?”
Dr. Morgan: First off, there is always a chance that any of us can be ghosted. Ghosting can of course be a very painful experience, and if it has ever happened to you, you don’t forget it. Of course, it is a risk that you must be willing to take when dating. If it ever happens to you it is important to remember that it is very likely that it has little to do with you. Remember, it tells you a lot about the person who ghosted, and is a sign that they do not have capacity for a relationship right now. Texting can be a convenient way to communicate and it can also be confusing at times. If you ever feel you may have been misunderstood, you can always ask for a phone call. Phone conversations can typically bring clarity to any text conversations that were misunderstood. Remember, you have the right to ask for what you need. Always.
Want to learn more about how to have high self-worth and great relationships? Visit www.drmorgancoaching.com Or, follow her on Instagram @drmorgancoaching for posts and videos aimed at helping you break the toxic cycle.