Waiting for someone to text you back sucks. The thoughts that run through you’re head when you’re in those initial stages of dating someone — the stages when you don’t really know them yet and you definitely don’t know their phone habits — can be really stressful. Maybe he hates me. Maybe she thinks I’m too thirsty. Maybe I smelled weird on our date. Maybe I shouldn’t have had slept with them so quickly. Maybe they’ve met someone else. Maybe, maybe, maybemaybemaybe…” There’s probably no other time when we’re more likely to, a) be unkind to ourselves and, b) make up all kinds of stories in our heads.
This is a uniquely now problem in the history of humanity. Back in the day, you’d call someone and leave a message on their answering machine (or with their parents or siblings or roommate) and hope that they got back to you quickly. The waiting weighed on your mind and was stressful, but that waiting was nothing compared to the excruciating wait when you’re expecting a text.
While you totally could hang around the house waiting for the phone to ring back in the day, most people got bored and did something else in the meantime — and, remember, phones back then couldn’t be taken along in your pocket. Plus, cell phones add the agony checking constantly to see if someone’s responded.
And waiting around for texts can even affect relationships. "Texting can harm relationships because of one partner’s expectation of the response rate," Anita A. Chlipala, Dating and Relationship Expert and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist tells Bustle. "My clients have reported hurt feelings because their partners did not respond to a text, but they could see their social media posts. So they wonder, 'If you had time to post on social media, why are you not responding to my text? He obviously doesn’t care.' This kind of expectation inevitably leads to hurt. Both partners have to have realistic expectations because many variables can lead to this kind of situation (such as the partner was waiting to call instead of text a response!)"
According to one 2016 study from the research firm Dscout, Americans touch our phones an average 2,617 times per day. I’d be willing to bet my iPhone that number skyrockets even higher when we’re waiting for someone we like to text us back.
So what should you do instead? Here are seven things you can tell yourself when you’re waiting for someone to text you back.
1“They’re A Busy Human”
You’re a busy person, right? Most of us are. In the early stages of dating, you’re probably not a priority for this person. They have work and friends and family and maybe their dog just ate an entire pair of underwear, so they’re dealing with that crisis. Busy humans have busy lives and it might take them a while to respond. Take a deep breath and remind yourself of that.
2“It’s OK If They’re Not Super Into Me Yet”
While I’m generally a fan of admitting to yourself when someone clearly isn’t into you, I don’t think it’s a good idea to jump to that conclusion just because someone is taking their time to respond to a text. However, I do think it’s a good idea to remind yourself that they might not be super into you yet — and that’s OK.
Part of dating is getting to know someone and figuring out all of the ways that you dig them. Sure, there are the very rare instances of two people locking eyes and falling head over heels in love, but for most of us it’s a process. Someone might not be responding to you immediately because, frankly, they’re just not super into you yet. But that doesn’t mean they won’t ever be — give the relationship time to mature before making that conclusion.
This is related to “they’re a busy human.” If you initiate a text conversation at the beginning of the work week, for example, your crush might be waiting until later in the week to make plans. A lot of people don’t do social stuff on Monday, Tuesday, or even Wednesday and since we all became glued to our smartphones, a lot of people don’t make plans very far in advance, either. So if you’re stressing out about someone not responding to you promptly when you’re hoping to make social plans, take a glance at the calendar. Is it early in the week still? That could definitely be a factor.
4“Not Everyone Is Glued To Their Phone”
When you’re glued to your phone because you’re waiting for someone to text you or text you back, the person you’re waiting for just might not be. Not everyone is glued to their phone 24/7. Some people, like me, are jerks and have their phone permanently on silent. Each person’s relationship with their phone and the constant deluge of messages that comes through on it is unique, so don’t assume they’re checking their messages constantly.
5“I Am Not A Mind Reader”
Repeat after me: I. Am. Not. A. Mind. Reader. One of the most destructive things you can do is try to figure out what a person is “really” thinking, especially if your mind has a tendency to go the self-destructive route. There’s no way for you to know what they’re thinking about you — or even if they’re thinking about you — except them telling you directly, so stop trying.
6“I Am Great”
It’s also a good idea to remind yourself that you’re awesome, regardless of if or how this person messages you. Go through the reasons you’re awesome — like kicking butt at work or being a great friend or having a great sense of style — and remember that all of those things are true, no matter the result of this budding romance. It can feel a little weird to talk so positively to yourself if you’re used to negative self talk, but if you do it often enough it will start to feel more normal.
7“It’s Time To Go Outside”
Take a cue from the days of landlines and go do something else. Go for a run. Call up a friend to hang out. Pick a recipe you’ve meaning to try and make yourself dinner. Put your phone out of sight and out of reach and do something other than obsessing for a while. If you’re worried about “missing” a message, remind yourself that if it comes, it will be there when you come back. Just as the person you’re waiting to text might take their time, so can you.
I know that all of this is easier said than done. I’m not someone who’s ever been described as “chill,” probably ever in my entire life. But that means I’ve been on the self-destructive side of obsessing over whether or not someone is going to to get back to me — and I know how much it sucks. Next time, don’t put yourself through that and try to remind yourself of these things instead. You’ll feel better — I promise.