Technology makes miscommunication way too easy, especially with a new love interest. Here, experts give real-life advice so you can keep those dates coming.
With the influx of apps, like Tinder, geared toward helping us find Mr. Right (or Mr. Right Now), we’ve gotten so used to fast, disposable dating, that it’s changed the way we communicate in relationships. A text is a call, a fast reply means he really likes us, a slow one gets us worried. In the past, the cry of “Why hasn’t he called me?” was answered with a resounding, “He’s just not that into you.” (You can thank Greg Behrendt for that.) Now, the answer to “Why hasn’t he texted back?” is much more complicated. But there is no need to freak out, overanalyze, and parse every syllable, emoticon, and read into the amount of time it takes a guy to reply (the minutes, the hours … the days). Isn’t it better, after all, to try to understand the mind of the male texter?
I can help you do just that: I took to the streets and asked seven men to share real-life instances when they didn’t text a woman back. The most revealing part of their accounts turned out to be the way the objects of their affection tended to overreact. Does this sound like you? Never fear. Our dating experts—including a relationship coach and a marriage therapist—will help defuse your anxiety, so that you don’t prematurely dump a guy who truly did nothing wrong.
The Excuse: I Lost My Phone in a Bar
His Story: “It was a Saturday night. She was trying to get me to come over. I was out with friends and lost my phone at the bar we were at. I didn’t get my phone back until Monday, and saw that she had sent me a nude pic trying to get me to come over. I texted my apologies and explained what happened, but I never heard from her again. Women need to understand that this does happen. I can see why she’d be upset, or embarrassed after sending me a naked photo and then I didn’t reply for two days, but I really, really did leave my phone at the bar. My advice is to give the guy the benefit of the doubt—at least the first time it happens.” —Patrick, 39
The Expert Says: “Sending nude photos in an attempt to get someone to do something isn’t attractive. If he’s never blown you off or ignored you and it’s early in the relationship where you’re not necessarily even talking every day, he probably doesn’t deserve to be disrespected like this. My advice is to view these situations as innocent until proven guilty. But if he does it a lot, then there could be a problem and you need to have a discussion,” says dating and relationship expert Marni Battista, founder of datingwithdignity.com.
Advice in a Nutshell: Before losing it, as this woman did, remember: Phones get lost. Phones die. Shit truly does happen. Also: Sending a crotch shot is never the answer.
The Excuse: I Was Playing Video Games
His Story: “Only men will probably believe this, but I really was playing a video game for the entire day. It was my first day off in a while and it’s my way to just unwind and have some time to myself. We didn’t have plans that day so I had no reason to check my phone. When I was done with the game, I saw four texts from her asking why I’m ignoring her. I wasn’t ignoring her, I was freakin’ busy. But after that I wanted to ignore her. It was just ridiculous.” —Destin, 32
The Expert Says: “The common thing that women fear when they don’t hear from the guy is he isn’t into her or he’s with someone else. I teach people how to look at their own [back] stories and see how they might have made interpretations based on their past. Ask yourself, ‘Well, what would someone else say here? Maybe he actually is busy, or maybe he wanted to respond but his boss walked into the room.’ There are a million reasons other than he’s just not into you or with another woman,” says Battista.
Advice in a Nutshell: It’s hard to give a new guy the benefit of the doubt, especially if you’ve been burned in the past, but that is exactly what needs to be done.
The Excuse: I Don’t Like Being Mothered
His Story: “Sometimes I don’t text back because it feels like she’s checking up on me or I have to check in with her. She is not my mother; and I am not 7 years old and in need of constant supervision and badgering. One time she kept asking where I was and when I didn’t reply for a few hours, she texted, ‘WHAT THE FUCK DALE?’ I was in the shower. Give me a break.” —Dale, 52
The Expert Says: “I am all for taking things slowly and vetting people over time. When you do that, you get to find out what their communication style is long before you ever invest your heart. If you text all day long it can scare someone off. You can be sending the message that you’re a desperate person and that’s not an attractive trait. When there’s a communication issue, you just need to make agreements in your relationship about what is comfortable for each of you and be on the same page about expectations,” says Marty Simpson, a licensed marriage and family therapist and certified sex addiction therapist at the Sexual Recovery Institute in Los Angeles.
Advice in a Nutshell: A way to calm your texting beast down is to not get too attached to a guy before you fully vet him as a viable partner.
The Excuse: I Was in a Meeting
His Story: “The girl I was seeing just texts me too much. Sometimes, I just have to wait until a certain point and answer them back all in one text to save time because I’m busy. There was one day where I was in back-to-back meetings for three hours and she texted me about 8 or10 times, starting with a nice, ‘How is your day?’ And then, ‘What are you up to?’ And, then it escalated into, ‘Why aren’t you answering me?’ Her last text was, ‘Well, if you aren’t going to answer then you can just fuck yourself and I’ll find something else to do. Talk to me when you feel I am important to have in your life.’ I didn’t do anything wrong. I was at work. But, we talked it out and set boundaries and worked through it.” —Scott, 48
The Expert Says: “Oh, how I wish women wouldn’t be so insecure when it comes to texting reply times. Understand that not everyone is on the same digital page as it relates to texting and without hearing the sound of your voice, a text may get misunderstood,” says Julie Spira, online dating expert and founder of CyberDatingExpert.com. Adds Battista, “Understand that women communicate more than men. There are studies that show men use on average 7,000 words a day and women use 20,000.”
Advice in a Nutshell: Talking it out, instead of freaking out, is the way to go.
The Excuse: I Didn’t Think I Had to Reply
His Story: “My girlfriend was just texting me about nothing really and I was hanging with my friends so I didn’t reply. I looked at her text but she didn’t ask me a question so it didn’t seem like it needed a reply. To me, that’s just basic manners when you are with friends—it’s like not texting during dinner. It just came off as needy and insecure and I think she thinks I’m cheating, which is funny because if I were cheating, it wouldn’t prove I’m not cheating if I texted her back.” —Trey, 21
The Expert Says: “If your go-to thought every time he doesn’t text you back is Oh, no, he’s cheating, then you have a trust issue that you need to recognize, own up to, and work on. If you have been cheated on in the past, you might interpret his behavior in a way that helps build this case against him. You need to pause and ask yourself: Am I being paranoid or is there a legitimate reason to feel this?” says Battista.
Advice in a Nutshell: This issue has more to do with you than him.
The Excuse: I Had No Signal
His Story: “It was my birthday and I went hiking with friends during the day and I was going to see her at night. I didn’t have a signal. A long time went by and when I got cell service again there were a bunch of angry texts waiting for me saying that I was lying about being on a hike. We got into a huge fight about it and she ruined my birthday over nothing. We did talk it out and sort of reconciled, but it did major damage that led to the breakup a month later. I couldn’t deal with her neediness and insecurities all the time.” —Mitchell, 33
The Expert Says: “I have this trick called ‘The Costanza,’” Battista says. “It’s from the Seinfeld episode where George Costanza decides that since everything he’s ever done has failed, he’ll start doing the opposite. So, I tell my clients to do the opposite of what their initial gut reaction would be. If you know you freak out and overreact, say, ‘This one time, I’m going to do the opposite of what I normally will do. I’m going to send one or two texts and then I’m going to find some healthy distraction and a healthy outlet so that I don’t over-text.’ Maybe even tell your friend, ‘Hang onto my phone because I’m being a little over-dramatic.’”
Advice in a Nutshell: The key here is to have a few tricks up your sleeve to slow your emotional roll, such as waiting until you calm down before texting back or phone a friend when you are freaking out.
The Excuse: I Left My Phone at Home
His Story: “I have a brain tumor so she checked in on me, which is pretty nice. ‘How are you feeling? Please talk to me. I’m here for you! XO.’ And, then, ‘Hey, haven’t heard from you, getting worried, mister! Are you ok?’ Then it went onto, ‘Seriously, text me back! I’m so worried. I’m sick to my stomach. Are you in the hospital? Are you out somewhere, baby? This is so not cool. I’m crying here while you’re out having fun or whatever and I just cannot take it. I mean it. I never should have dated a fucking musician, everybody warned me. Yeah, I’m done with this shit.’ I had left my phone at home, which is a very rare occurrence. During the entire eight hours, she never even called and just made every wrong assumption under the sun.” —Hunter, 39
The Expert Says: “Stop catastrophizing,” says Spira. “If it’s urgent and you’re really concerned, pick up the phone! And never break up with someone over unreturned texts until you find out what happened. It actually reverses attraction. Men are attracted to confident women who are powerful and have their own thing going on. So this just screams, ‘I’m not confident or secure.’ My basic advice to women on how to manage their anxiety over texting is to really, first, just relax and stop making up stories of what could be happening,” says Battista.
Advice in a Nutshell: Two rules of thumb apply here. One, if you are truly worried or angry, call him. Two, if he doesn’t answer after two texts, STOP texting.
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