Dating with Anxiety, Readers Questions
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Ask What You Want Wednesday: Endless Texting Anxiety

I’ve been with my boyfriend for about 4 months now and no matter what I do, I cannot shake this constant anxiety over his texts. Now, it’s not like I don’t see this dude in person. I see him a solid 3-4X a week. I spend the entire weekend at his house. However, I instantly freak out when I don’t get a goodnight text or a good morning text. I constantly overanalyze his texts and question if he still wants to be with me or not.

Then, lo and behold, I see him in person and he’s lovey dovey and great. I don’t bring up my pure panic when it comes to texting because it’s not his job to change who he is to make me feel better, especially when it comes to something so silly as texts. He and I have talked about his texting and he knows he is less than stellar and just says “Baby, just because I’m not texting you doesn’t mean I’m not thinking about you.” 

What gives? How can I stop placing so much incredible importance on little words on a screen?

Yes!! Thank you for sharing this experience since holy cow it’s insane how much modern technology (and texting in particular) has changed the landscape of dating. AND it’s opened up all these secret, didn’t-even-know-they-were-there, doorways to anxiety (wheee).

The sentence that seriously stood out to me was “it’s not his job to change who he is to make me feel better, especially when it comes to something as silly as texts.” BAM. Right there. I’ve said things like this countless times over the years and it’s taken me countless years to identify the root of those kinds of statements. Pay attention to your self-talk. Pay attention to what in our behavior we identify as “silly” and what we “don’t want to burden others with.”

Any time we label anything we do as “silly” we are invalidating the importance of our own needs and emotions. Here’s the thing, yes, texting from the big picture perspective is sort of a funny and random and weird thing that exists. They are letters on a screen. They are some of the most impersonal, odd, cold, robotic ways we have found to communicate with each other in this weird evolution of relationships and love. BUT.

But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t still hold power.

Way back when, people sent love letters. Telegrams. They used morse code. They’d leave “silly” rocks on the side of the road, spelling out the name of their crush who they knew would pass that spot on the road. They eventually started to call on telephones. Send faxes. Send emails. Page each other with “silly” codes on pagers (do children even know what pagers are anymore!?) College students used to AIM.

My point is….caring for someone makes us do “silly” things but that doesn’t mean they don’t have value or a purpose. The method in which we do these silly things will always be evolving and changing its surface-level appearance, but the heart of the act always stays the same. They are ways to remind someone we are thinking of them.

That being said, if we truly viewed texting as minor and silly it wouldn’t bother us in the slightest that someone forgets to text us sometimes. However, it does. And that’s okay. You know what I mean?? It’s okay to have certain communication needs and to struggle with figuring out how to communicate this need. It’s only when we start invalidating our needs, diminishing them, making fun of them, or seeing them as unecessary that it’s no longer okay.

While on the one hand it’s true, it is not his “job” to make you happy, I do believe a partnership is an ever-growing creature that must listen and make efforts to adapt to the needs of the other person. I know, deep down, that Jared can not be the end result of my happiness and it is up to me to find my hearts true rhythm in day-to-day life. BUT, when I stumble over my words and tell him it’s helpful when he lets me know he’ll be out with friends later than he originally thought (since otherwise I picture him kidnapped and in a foreign land), it means so so much to me when he makes an effort to hear me and do it even if it’s not his initial instinct.

While I know you probably drive yourself crazy over these moments of over-analyzation, I encourage you to start paying close attention to how you are self-talking and viewing yourself in these moments. Be gracious and understanding that while yes maybe a single good morning text is only 11 characters long, it also is the message in the bottle floating across the morning sky greeting you and saying “I’m thinking about you.” It’s okay to have this need. Remind yourself that you deserve care and thoughtfulness. If this man values your feeling heard and cared for, he will want to make an effort to meet those needs….regardless if they are “silly.”

Now, let’s watch this because SO MUCH YES.

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2 Comments

  1. I once did a stint as a dating column advice writer. I was good at it. When I saw the title, I cracked my knuckles and got ready to weigh in with my comments and rescue your dear reader. Imagine my surprise and delight when you knocked it out of the park. Well done, Hattie. :)

    • Wow! Thank you for that amazing compliment (though I’m positive you could still contribute some solid insights, as well)

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