We live in a digital age where quick and instant communication has become the norm. In such times, waiting for a reply or sitting with an unanswered text can trigger feelings of anxiety. Whether it’s waiting for a reply from a friend, family member, or romantic partner, the absence of a response can lead to a range of emotions. While some feelings of nervousness and excitement are normal, constantly feeling anxious about an unanswered text can be unhealthy and even impact relationships negatively in the long run.
Why do unanswered texts cause anxiety?
There might be multiple reasons why you feel anxious when someone doesn’t text you back. They are:
When someone replies to our texts instantly, it releases a chemical called dopamine in our brains. Dopamine creates a feeling of satisfaction and instant gratification. So, when we’re feeling anxious, waiting for a text is like anticipating a boost of happiness from our brain’s dopamine, while not receiving a text denies dopamine.
Sometimes, we might feel anxious because we are concerned about the other person’s whereabouts and well-being.
The delay in receiving a text response may trigger a fear of rejection. You might be worried that the lack of replies implies that the other person isn’t interested in talking to you or has certain negative feelings towards you.
Worried about the other person
Past experiences of being ignored or ghosted can create a heightened sense of anxiety or worry about receiving delayed replies, as you might be worried about having a similar negative experience once again.
Previous Negative Experiences
Texting can be a challenging form of communication, as there is a lack of direct interaction. Lack of direct interaction also means that we have little to no idea about how the other person is reacting or feeling about the message. This uncertainty about how the other person interprets your messages may be a cause of anxiety.
Lack of Face to face-to-face interaction
How to overcome anxiety about unanswered texts?
Lack of face-to-face interactions can make having a difficult conversation over text even more challenging. Miscommunication over texts can lead to a heightened sense of anxiety. Thus, it might be helpful to reserve difficult or serious topics for in-person interactions.
Avoid Difficult Conversations Over Texts
Talk to your friends and loved ones about how you feel about late replies. By talking about your feelings openly, you can invite their thoughts and ideas and see how they might be able to help you.
Have An Honest Conversation
Everyone has different styles and preferences for communicating with others. Some people might feel more comfortable on a call, while others might rely on texting. Understanding communication differences can help you create acceptance for late replies.
If a text message you have sent is making you nervous, it might be a good idea to ask the other person for clarification regarding how they feel about it. Seeking clarification helps you avoid miscommunication.
The more time we spend on social media, the more anxiety it can cause about unanswered texts. Limiting time on social media and screen time can allow you to reflect on your feelings about texting while also giving you time to engage in other meaningful activities. Engaging in other hobbies can also help cope with anxiety.
Understand Communication Styles
Anxiety triggered by an unanswered text is quite common in the digital age. One can cope with this anxiety by seeking clarification and having honest conversations with others around them
It is also important to remember that some anxiety and nervousness are normal, but long periods of distress or anxiety about unanswered texts can be a sign of underlying issues that need to be addressed with the help of a professional.
- Ashton, P. (2022, March 25). Get Anxiety When Someone Doesn’t Text Back? (Texting Anxiety Explained). Self Development Journey. https://selfdevelopmentjourney.com/anxiety-when-someone-doesnt-text-back/
- Texting Anxiety: What It Is & How to Deal With It. (n.d.). Choosing Therapy. Retrieved January 4, 2024, from https://www.choosingtherapy.com/texting-anxiety/