At the beginning of my relationship, my hubs would sometimes forget to text me when he got home safely (he promised to do so whenever driving home late at night). What did I do? Naturally, I became irrationally concerned and began checking the local police logs for some horrendous accident. This, in turn, made me irritated AF. When my husband ignores my calls and texts, it can be pretty darn frustrating. You wonder: Are they ignoring me on purpose? Are they playing games? Did something catastrophic happen? You honestly can’t think of a valid excuse for their non-response.
The truth is, we’ve all gotten pretty used to being at each other’s beck and call 24/7. Texting allows us to be in constant contact with those we love, and since most of us spend a ridiculous number of hours on our phones, we’re not very tolerant or patient when it comes to someone not responding to us. We assume that they will get back to us immediately, and when they don’t, we often feel anxious and hurt. This is especially true where our SOs are concerned. We expect our partners to do their best to meet our needs, and communication plays a big part in any relationship. Still, there are a number of reasons why someone might not text you back. So, why does it seem to trigger so much angst when we’re left on read?
According to experts, there are several explanations for this response.
Being Ignored Can Bring Up Insecurities
Insecurity plays a major role in how well you handle your partner not responding to your text. As Kate Stewart, psychotherapist and dating coach at Modern Therapy Seattle, tells Elite Daily, “If you are an insecure person in general, or are feeling insecure in the relationship, there will always be a doubt in the back of your mind of, ‘What is he doing right now?’ or, ‘Why won't she text me back? What's keeping her?’” she explains. If you find yourself anxiously wondering, “Why does my husband ignore my texts and calls?” it may be helpful to assess if this is rooted in a deeper insecurity rather than a spur-of-the-moment concern.
Stewart also notes that your reaction to their failure to respond to a text may depend on the stage of your relationship. According to her, insecurity can come more easily in the beginning stages of the relationship, when you’re still feeling out each other’s habits and communication styles. “In general, the newer the relationship, the more anxiety-provoking the silence can be," she adds. "If you have been married for 20 years and you know your partner loses their phone every 20 minutes, you wouldn't worry as much."
Being Ignored Can Make You Jump To Conclusions
What often makes a partner’s lack of a response feel even worse is that we tend to jump to negative conclusions in our minds. “When we feel ignored, it is easy for us to allow our anxiety and our imaginations to run wild and invent all the things that could be going wrong,” licensed marriage and family therapist Nicole Richardson tells Elite Daily. “Brene Brown calls this 'story telling.' In the absence of information, we often make assumptions and more often than not, those assumptions are hurtful and negative. When our partner does not respond to us, it is easy for us to succumb to anxiety and hurt and start to story tell. This storytelling often does more harm both to us as well as to our relationship.”
This could manifest as frantically checking the local police logs because you’re afraid your partner got into an accident (been there), or jumping to big, unsupported conclusions, like that your partner is cheating on you or drafting a break-up text. While it’s completely annoying if your partner ignores your texts and calls, it’s important to do the work on your end to avoid spiraling and storytelling.
Being Ignored Makes It Difficult To Make Plans
There’s also the practicality factor. How are you supposed to choose a dinner spot or figure out when to pick up your SO from work if they won’t respond? “From a more reasonable, day to day standpoint, your partner not texting you back may mean that you can't make plans, or don't know where you will be going or what you will be doing,” says Stewart.
Obviously, this can cause some frustration because it’s affecting your life. Especially for someone whose love language consists of dinner reservations and Google Calendar invites, frequent communication is both practical and a way to show you care.
Here’s How To Deal With Being Ignored
So, what should you do if your partner is being unresponsive over text? If you need an answer from them, Stewart recommends trying to call — especially since your SO may not have even seen the text, and this way, you can get the response you need more quickly. However, if this becomes an ongoing issue, you may need to bring it up with your partner. “Discuss it with them without forcing them to defend themselves,” advises Richardson. “Get curious and ask what responsive means or looks like to them. Some put their phones away when they are engaged in an activity or spending time with other people. If your partner is working at a job that does not allow them to be on their phone keep that in mind.”
You and your partner may very well have different texting habits, too. If you find that you and your significant other aren’t really on the same page with texting and it’s causing you a lot of frustration, then you may want to express this to your SO. Richardson recommends telling your partner how good it would make you feel if you had the ability to check in with each other during the day. “People are typically more motivated to give us what we want when we focus on what they can do to make us happy instead of focusing on what they are doing wrong,” she explains.
Of course, if you suspect that your partner is intentionally ignores not responding to your texts and calls, that’s a whole other issue. “If your partner is avoiding your for some reason, that is really irritating, but also points to a bigger problem in the relationship,” says Stewart. “Sometimes this is a game-playing tactic or a control maneuver. Generally, it's a bad sign. If you think this is what is happening, try to ask your partner about it, but focus on asking from a curious, not an accusatory place.”
Next time your SO doesn’t text you back, don’t freak out. Remember that there are some legitimate reasons why they may not have texted you back yet, and they aren’t necessarily playing a mind game or ignoring you. They could simply be busy at work. They could have seen your text and then gotten distracted by a phone call or be caught up in countless other obligations.
However, if the unresponsiveness has become an ongoing problem, then it’s definitely worth bringing up in a conversation with your SO. The best way to encourage them to change their behavior is to explain how much it would mean to you or how happy it would make you (rather than focusing on how their current behavior is frustrating AF). If your partner knows how important it is to you that they get back to you in a timely manner, they’ll hopefully make it a priority. At the end of the day, there's not much a little verbal communication can't overcome.
Kate Stewart, psychotherapist and dating coach at Modern Therapy Seattle
Nicole Richardson, licensed marriage and family therapist
Editor's Note: This story has been updated by Elite Daily Staff.
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