For many, a lively text life is an extension of an extroverted personality, and when friends or family don’t reply in a timely fashion, it feels like being ignored in real life. “Imagine you’re sitting in a room having a conversation, and the person just isn’t responding to you,” says Summer Borowski, Thrive’s director of branded content and a self-proclaimed textrovert. “It feels like there’s an imbalance in the relationship.”
For Borowski and other textroverts, sending a text message — like when she reads an article, or attends a panel that reminds her of a friend — is a way for her to nourish relationships, to make the other person feel cared for. And to be honest, she’d like a reply.
But for others, getting constant text alerts — with the built-in expectation that you must respond right away — is an annoyance at best, and a cause of stress at worst. Which can make things difficult for textroverts, who may feel frustrated, or downright hurt by one-sided text conversations. Thrive spoke to experts in psychology and digital communication about how to deal when you’re a textrovert who’s feeling slighted.
Don’t make assumptions about why someone isn’t responding to you.
When faced with uncertainty over whether we’re likable, many people, textroverts included, assume the worst, Danielle Einstein, Ph.D, a clinical psychologist in Sydney, Australia, who specializes in the link between texting and anxiety, tells Thrive. And if there’s a lack of specific confirmation otherwise — like a response to a text — this insecurity can fester. Before you wallow in self-doubt, Einstein recommends thinking of all the practical reasons a person may not answer your message. They could be in a meeting, or are out to dinner. Perhaps they’re making use of the Screen Time feature on their phone, and actively creating healthy boundaries with their device. She says that to further quell your anxiety, step back and think about the type of relationship you have with the person you’ve texted. Does this person make time to catch up with you at other moments? Do they ever initiate contact with you? If you’re together, does the conversation flow naturally? If the answer is yes, take a deep breath, and relax.
Respect that everyone seeks connection differently.
Just because you’re a textrovert doesn’t mean that your friends and family are, too. Because of different communication preferences, your personal etiquette standards may not match your friend’s or family member’s — and Jeffrey Hall, Ph.D., an assistant professor of communication studies at the University of Kansas, says you should be flexible about what you consider to be impolite. Many people, he explains, see texting as a tool to get things done, rather than as a tool to foster community. So if you haven’t already, figure out what kind of texter your friend is: the kind who texts for purpose, or for fun.
If the problem — and your insecurity — persists, be direct about what you’re noticing.
If a friend consistently ignores your texts, and it continues to bother you, be compassionately direct with them about how you’re feeling. Julie Albright, Ph.D., a digital sociologist at the University of Southern California and author of forthcoming book Left to Their Own Devices: How Digital Natives are Reshaping the American, advises us to try to have the conversation in person. You’ll be able to better read a person’s body language and discern what’s going on. She suggests asking a straightforward question, like, “I noticed that you haven’t been replying to my texts anymore like you used to. Has something changed between us?” If you’re unable to talk in person, then sending them this note via text, ironically, works too.
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