Why Is Texting Someone You Like So Scary? A Psychologist Explains
There's nothing quite as nerve-wracking as texting someone you've got the hots for. First, there's the deliberation stage: Should you even text them at all? When you realize you might as well just go for it, you're confronted by the enormous hurdle of figuring out what you want to say. Once you hit send, your heart falls down into your stomach and all you can think about is whether or not they'll text back. Why is texting someone you like so scary? According to Dr. Joshua Klapow, clinical psychologist and Host of The Kurre and Klapow Show, it's common to experience anxiety or fear when putting yourself out there.
"Feeling anxious when we text someone we like is 100% normal," Dr. Klapow tells Elite Daily. "Even though we don’t see the person, hear the person, or have to interact directly, our more primitive, hardwired reactions are kicking in." So, where do these intense feelings come from? Well, it turns out that the root cause has to do with what Dr. Klapow refers to as "emotional risk," a phenomenon that is significantly heightened when communicating with someone you feel strongly about. "Texting someone we like has much more emotional risk than texting someone we don’t have strong feelings for," explains Dr. Klapow. "The emotional risk is simple — they may not like us and this sets up a very primitive, hardwired fear of rejection in most of us."`
When it comes down to it, rejection can be one of the absolute worst feelings ever. Regardless of the stakes, it never feels good to be shut down or ignored, especially by someone you have a romantic interest in. "It is one of the most painful human experiences we can have," confirms Dr. Klapow. "We are social beings, from an evolutionary standpoint, and acceptance has survival properties." Surprisingly, rejection can actually activate our evolutionary instincts and have an enormous impact on our feelings of safety and security. "If we are rejected by individuals or our group, [then this is an evolutionary cue] that we aren't as safe, protected, or as shielded from danger," explains Dr. Klapow. "Thus rejection by our parents, siblings, and friends have lasting effects on us."
Since initiating communication with a potential love interest inherently involves an emotional risk that can result in rejection, it totally makes sense that so many people find it scary. The good news is, the more often we expose ourselves to potential rejection, the easier it gets to do so again in the future, says Dr. Klapow. "The problem is that because we fear we might be rejected we don’t text people we like frequently enough," he adds. "And should we be rejected when we do, it often pushes us away from trying again."
Thankfully, reframing rejection can be a really effective way to keep the fear of it from holding you back. "Don’t attribute all possible rejection to yourself," recommends Dr. Klapow. "Remind yourself that rejection happens frequently and it isn't always about you alone. It’s often about the other person’s issues, preferences, challenges, and hang-ups." It can also be helpful to approach texting someone you like from the perspective of a learning experience. "Know that you might be rejected but that even if you are, there's a benefit to learning about yourself, the person, and the interaction," says Dr. Klapow. "Consider the act to be beneficial to your personal growth, even if you don’t get the outcome you're hoping for. It takes the pure pain out of the rejection because you are learning from it."
Ultimately, there's nothing wrong with feeling anxious or afraid when it comes to texting someone you're into. However, the most important thing is to not let your fears get in the way of personal growth. Plus, there's a chance that the person you like might also be afraid to reach out to you. In the end, the worst thing that can happen is they aren't interested. If that's the case, you can always chose to learn from the experience and try again when you're ready.