Your finger trembles as you hover over the "send" button. After re-reading the draft five times, you decide to delete an exclamation point. You wonder: is that too many emojis? Should I wait a few more minutes to respond? And why are my palms so sweaty? If you're dating in the 21st century, odds are, these texting jitters probably sound all too familiar. Fortunately, I talked to three therapists to gather their tips for reducing anxiety while texting your crush. Not only are their strategies super simple to adopt, but they can be effective in helping you to gain some much-needed perspective and maintain a healthy, positive mindset.
For the record, though, it's totally normal to feel anxious while texting someone you like. "We always feel anxious if there is a risk of rejection," says Dr. Dominique Samuels, the resident psychologist for relationship-health app Emi Couple.
According to Dr. Samuels, your body doesn't know how to distinguish between a physical threat and an emotional threat, which is why you go into fight or flight mode, regardless of whether you're getting chased by a criminal or simply waiting for a response from someone cute.
"The minute that the '...' is moving, or you look at the phone expectedly, your fear increases," explains Dr. Samuels.
Check in with yourself.
Before you even start typing, Dr. Samuels recommends making sure you're in a good place to do so.
"Don't text during a meeting or class, because you are already stressed and don't want to be distracted, and each minute the crush hasn't texted back will drive you bananas," she explains. "And don't text while you are fighting with a friend, because you are already distressed."
Not only will texting your crush under these kinds of conditions likely exacerbate your anxiety, but it may also negatively impact the tone of your message — and you want to make a good impression, right? So, rather than firing off a message when you're in a rush, under pressure, or in a bad mood, wait until you're feeling positive and relaxed.
Have a plan.
If you're feeling a little trigger shy about sending a text to your crush, Dr. LeslieBeth Wish — a psychotherapist and author of Training Your Love Intuition — suggests typing or writing out a draft first. If you'd like, you can come up with a few options. Then, set those aside for at least five minutes, and when you come back, read them again.
"Don't read them out loud," she tells Elite Daily. "Remember, this person is not going to be hearing your tone of voice or emphasis on certain words."
Having some time to revise and process your message before sending may give you some added peace of mind.
Consult a friend.
What are besties for if not reviewing your flirty texts before you send them? If you find yourself overthinking what to say or how to say it, Dr. Wish says consulting someone you trust may prove helpful. She advises sharing your drafts and asking them to pick their favorite. Or, you could also just screenshot what you've typed out and see if they have any advice before you hit "send."
Take a pause.
According to Kate Deibler, a licensed psychotherapist, it's a good idea to ask yourself what your intentions are before engaging in a text convo from your crush. What is your goal in having this interaction?
"Use the medium to your advantage — a benefit to texting is that you do not have to respond immediately," adds Deibler. "In a spoken conversation, it can feel strange to slow things down, but texting is more forgiving when it comes to timing. Use this to think about what it is you want from the conversation."
Deibler also advises being aware of how you're feeling throughout the conversation. Practicing mindfulness has been shown to reduce anxiety, so even just noticing what physical sensations you're experiencing in the moment while you type, wait for a response, and read your crush's messages may help you to stay more grounded and calm.
Turn your anxiety into excitement.
Ever notice how the feeling you get while getting ready for a fun date is almost the same as the feeling you get before giving a big presentation at work? Whether you realize it or not, anxiety and excitement are closely related — they're both states of elevated arousal. The difference, of course, is that the latter has more of a positive connotation.
"Anxiety and excitement have a similar effect on the body," explains Deibler. "Notice what parts feel excitement and what parts feels nervous. See if you can acknowledge your nervousness but offer it a new perspective."
Deibler adds that you can encourage this through positive self-talk and curiosity. For example, a professor at Harvard Business School conducted a study that found when people simply said "I am excited" before a task that makes them anxious, they gave better public speeches, sang better in karaoke, and even performed better on math tests. Essentially, re-framing their nervousness as something positive got them out of a "threat mindset" that made them think of all the things that could go wrong, and put them in an "opportunity mindset" — which gave them the confidence they needed to get the job done.
Put your phone away.
Once you've send a text, it can be tempting to keep your eyes locked on the screen — but doing so may only elevate your anxiety. Besides, there's a distinct pang of frustration and hurt that comes from noticing your crush just added to their Instagram Story when they still haven’t responded to you. That's why Dr. Samuels recommends putting your phone down if your crush doesn't get back to you right away.
"Don't just wait for them to text back," says Dr. Samuels. "And give yourself a specific amount of time during which you are not allowed to check your phone again."
Five minutes of waiting for a response can feel like an hour when you're fixating on the text convo. So, if you can, Deibler recommends distracting yourself with another activity.
"When feelings are involved, waiting for a text can feel like an eternity," she explains. "Forgetting, even momentarily, that you are waiting can often be a great relief. And coming back to texting after doing something else gives you the benefit of shifting your feeling state."
According to Dr. Wish, one of the best distractions from anxiety is engaging in any form of physical activity — whether it's taking a virtual yoga class, going for a run, or dancing around your living room.
"Exercising boosts your feel-good hormones and makes you feel more confident," says Dr. Wish.
If you're not able to squeeze in a workout for whatever reason, you can try taking a shower or a bath, reading a book, running an errand, or calling a friend to get your mind off the text convo with your crush.
Manage your expectations.
It's so crucial to keep in mind that your crush may not have the same texting habits as you do, so just because they don't respond as quickly or reach out as often doesn't mean they aren't into you. According to Dr. Wish, managing your expectations for their behavior over text will help to dial down your anxiety. "They might have other pressing obligations and issues that prevent them from replying immediately," she adds.
Dr. Samuels points out that not everyone enjoys texting, either. "Feel free to ask your crush if they like texting or prefer to communicate in a different way," she tells Elite Daily.
Sometimes, anxiety can prove more challenging to control. If that's the case, experts agree that talking to a therapist can be an excellent course of action. You may want to look for someone who specializes in treating anxiety.
"If none of the suggestions help you — or if you can't even calm down enough to try them — then seeking a licensed mental health practitioner to give you techniques for reducing your anxiety can be beneficial," adds Dr. Wish.
While all of these tactics can definitely help you to rein in your anxiety, there may be situations in which just telling your crush how you're feeling can break the tension and offer some relief.
"Anxiety often acts like a pressure cooker, and a way to release some of the pressure is to let it out by being honest," says Deibler.
In the best case scenario, you might be surprised to find that your crush is dealing with some jitters of their own.
Above all, remember that having some anxiety while you're texting with your crush is super common — and eventually, as you build a rapport and a connection with them, those jitters will start to fade. In the meantime, repeat after me: I am excited. After all, who knows where this convo will lead?
Dr. Dominique Samuels, psychologist
Kate Deibler, psychotherapist
Dr. LeslieBeth Wish, psychotherapist