How To Cope If Texting Anxiety Affects Your Relationship, According To A Therapist
Have you ever stared at your phone, wondering what to type? Honestly, I scroll through social media sometimes and wish more people thought about what to say before blindly hitting "Post." It's totally normal to have trouble firing off a text, even to a partner — texting is a relatively new form of communication, and it comes with all sorts of new "rules." Those who are anxious texting a partner may be wondering how to cope if texting anxiety affects your relationship. You're not alone in this concern, and I spoke to a therapist to get some tips and insight.
If texting anxiety is causing you to want to text your partner less, open communication is a good way to let them know. "You can say in person or on the phone something like: 'You know I love getting your texts — and so I get distracted too easily! Please help me out by texting just a few happy things or confirmation of getting together or change of plans,'" award-winning psychotherapist and author of Training Your Love Intuition LeslieBeth Wish tells Elite Daily. "This approach sets the ground rules without your having to appear anxious or vulnerable or negative and rejecting." If you are anxious because your partner has been texting too often, letting them know that you appreciate the texts, but that constant texting is unproductive for you, is helpful.
You can also let your partner know if screen time in general triggers anxiety for you. "Some people need to watch their screen time and get off their phones if they are getting more anxious," founder of Rapport Relationships, Jennifer Rhodes, tells Elite Daily. "The screen and constant stimulation may make anxiety worse." Your partner should be understanding if you need to make any changes in your life to alleviate anxiety, and being open about your needs is the trick to communicating this effectively. It's normal to want to be on your phone less, so let your partner know that you're deliberately trying to unplug, and that may help ease any anxiety.
It can be helpful to limit the scope of your texting if text anxiety affects you. "Your better strategy is to agree that you won't discuss or try to settle misunderstandings through text messaging," Wish says. "This approach may not totally decrease your anxiety, but it will help you 'put it in a mental box' until you are together, away from work, and not interrupting your sleep. You also have time to gather your thoughts so you can later talk." Giving yourself the time and space to think through what you're upset about can relieve anxiety because you're not rushed to come up with something to say. Even if you're not fighting over text, certain types of messaging can still give you anxiety. "Texting your feelings and your take on a situation can increase your texting and intensify your anxiety," Wish says. This isn't true for everyone, though — texting your feelings is helpful to a lot of people, but if it gives you anxiety, it's OK to stop. Figuring out what topics you do and do not want to communicate about via text is a good way to alleviate your anxiety and set basic ground rules.
It's totally normal to have anxiety about texting, but it's important to understand whether or not the anxiety comes from a deeper concern about the relationship. "Many people have text anxiety," Wish says. "It's the surprise element that can get to us. We wonder: Is this good news or bad? Even if you each feel that your relationship is on firm ground, you can still get that little catch in your throat or that skip in your heartbeat each time you hear that message ding from your phone."
Being anxious about texting doesn't mean your relationship isn't in good shape, but it's important to check in with yourself and make sure the relationship isn't giving you too much stress. Understanding why you're anxious about text messages can be a great first step.
It's totally normal to get a pang of anxiety when your phone lights up. I feel a mix of excitement and nervousness every time I get a notification. (It's almost like watching election results come in, but a low-stakes election, like an elementary school class president race.) I know I'm not the only one who deals with text anxiety in and out of relationships, and it's nothing to be ashamed of. Remember — life is lived in person, not just on your phone, and it's OK to not want to text all the time. Communicate that to your partner, and take it from there.