Why You Get So Upset When a Love Interest Doesn't Text Back (and How to Deal)

Updated 01/31/18
Original Illustration by Stephanie DeAngelis

Few things incite a mental spinout quite like an unanswered text from a potential love interest. Back when we communicated exclusively via flip phone, Razr, or even Blackberry, you could easily rationalize an unanswered text message with the usual excuses: They're just busy at work. They don't have time to type in T9. But in the world of smartphones, nearly all of our peers are checking Instagram, iMessage, Snapchat, and email at any given moment, which begs the question: Why couldn't you find the time to answer my text?

There's no question as to why this is upsetting; it sends the message that you aren't important enough to warrant even a one-word reply. But when you make a habit of obsessing, agonizing, or ruminating over an ignored text, problems can arise. While it's normal to get a little carried away when it comes to someone you're interested in, psychologist Perpetua Neo argues that this kind of anxiety is a sign that you're attaching too much to the outcome.

"When we put too much into this outcome, that's when we are too invested in the future," said Neo to Business Insider. "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? We are not enjoying where we are in the moment—instead we are stuck in a future where we think the worst. … We condemn ourselves to a catastrophe. It's like staring into a crystal ball, and it's cracked. So next time [your love interest] comes to you, you'll be in this really horrible passive aggressive mood."

To curb the problem, Neo suggests distracting your mind by meeting up with a friend, trying out a new hobby, or going to the gym. Above all, it's important to remember that "you can't really expect this [person], especially someone who [you] are just texting on and off, to complete your life—[they] should actually be the cherry on your cake of a really amazing life. If you expect them to complete you, then the dynamic is going to be a bit [off], because you are expecting too much from them."

That said, it's also important to remember that your feelings are valid, and you should still listen to them. "Whether or not you're being dramatic, they act as a barometer for something that's going on," she adds. "There are going to be people who don't answer back because they're playing games. 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 recognize the red flags." Head over to Business Insider for more.

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