By Lindsay Dodgson
With so much choice over how you can contact someone — texts, WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook messenger, Twitter DM, Snapchat — it can be pretty alarming when someone doesn’t respond to you. They can like Instagram photos and Facebook posts, but they apparently can’t conjure up the energy to message you back.
Cue your mind spinning out of control.
No response, or being “left on read,” hurts. But perhaps it isn’t normal to be at each other’s beck and call 24 hours a day. People are busy; we have a lot on at work, and some of us feel like we need a personal assistant just to keep up with our own social lives. That’s without taking time to go see family, exercise, and feed ourselves.
They are not necessarily cheating on you. So why do we let ourselves get so upset?
According to psychologist Perpetua Neo, we have so much anxiety when we’re waiting to hear from someone we like because we attach so much to the outcome.
She told Business Insider we might be getting carried away and thinking of our new love interest as “the one,” when in reality, we know very little about them.
“When we put too much into this outcome, that’s when we are too invested in the future,” Neo said. “It’s good to plan for your future, but when you’re planning with somebody else it’s never so simple. Instead of thinking about what do you have in your life right now, you’re thinking about what happens if this person isn’t going to answer, and what happens if this future is not perfect?
“So we are not enjoying where we are in the moment — instead we are stuck in a future where we think the worst.”
“The one” can mean different things to different people. For some it’ll be the embodiment of their soulmate. For others, it will simply be the next available person who can stop them worrying about the scarcity of love so they can hurry up and settle down.
Of course, not everyone is going to be right for us. Some people just don’t click.
“There are going to be people who don’t answer back because they’re playing games,” Neo said. “That’s ok, I think it’s very important to accept that. They’re not all going to be all perfect people or even good people. But the point is to be able to know when to say goodbye to them, and to be able to recognise the red flags.”
If you’re really feeling anxious that someone you thought things were going well with isn’t talking to you, it’s worth thinking about whether this is a pattern. You could ask yourself if this is a running theme with everyone you date, or if it’s a new feeling you’ve only had with this particular person.
“If it’s a long standing pattern, then you’ve got to ask yourself: ‘What are my basic insecurities when it comes to relationships? How can I face them? How can I use this as a chance to grow as a person?'” said Neo. “We think that we can carry a lot of insecurities, burdens, and worries, without worrying about them. We think that they are destined to be with us forever, like a piece of furniture, or a limb.”
In reality, when we can actually give ourselves the permission to examine what our insecurities are, we can tackle and learn to heal from them a lot easier. Neo said this makes you see them as a grotty old sweater you can throw away, rather than a limb you need to lob off.
Obsessing is a hard habit to break, but Neo said that when your mind is wandering you should think about seeing a friend or trying out a new hobby rather than watching another episode of a brain-numbing Netflix show. You could even try just being comfortable in your own company, and “dating” yourself, as so many people are scared of just being by themselves.
“You can’t really expect this guy, especially someone who we are just texting on and off, to complete your life — he should actually be the cherry on your cake of a really amazing life,” Neo said. “If you expect them to complete you, then the dynamic is going to be a bit screwed up, because you are expecting too much from them.”
Your feelings are valid, and even if you think you’re being irrational you should still listen to them. Whether or not you’re being dramatic, they act as a barometer for something that’s going on. Sooner than you think, the anxiety will fade and you’ll realise some people just text less than others. Maybe they have a lot going on.
“The problem is, when we live in the future, we condemn ourselves to a catastrophe,” Neo said. “And when you do that, you’re condemning yourself to the worst possible future. It’s like staring into a crystal ball, and it’s cracked. So next time he comes to you, you’ll be in this really horrible passive aggressive mood.”
The other explanation is that they really are trying to ghost you, in which case you shouldn’t waste time on them anyway.
“It’s okay if you say something like: ‘I felt really stupid because I’m not used to not having replies for three days,’ because that actually communicates your expectations and your boundaries without making him responsible,” Neo said. “If they’re a decent person, they will learn how to adjust. But if you use your feelings, and blame them, then you are going to be extremely dramatic, and extremely annoying.”
Originally published at www.businessinsider.com
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