What Goes Through My Mind When You Don't Reply Right Away


When I communicate with people, I am most likely to do so by text message, Facebook messenger or email. I am much better with written communication as discussed in my post telephonophobia.

It’s weird though because if I don’t get a reply to my message within whatever my brain decided is a reasonable amount of time, I start to get anxious about it. This is worse when you know the person has read you message with the little notification Facebook gives you.

Message with "time read" stamp

I start to wonder why there was no answer. I start thinking maybe I said something wrong or annoying or they have misunderstood what I said because you can’t read tone in a written message. They must not like me anymore or they can’t be bothered with me. I’m irritating people by sending them messages about things they aren’t interested in. Maybe they just don’t want to talk to me.

Logically, I know the person is probably just busy and doesn’t have time to reply right now and will probably do so later. Logically, I know they probably don’t hate me for sending them a message. Logically, I know I shouldn’t be sitting here looking at my screen waiting for the reply to come in a minute. I know they will reply when they can. But all this logic doesn’t stop the “what ifs” rolling through my brain.

Then when I do get a reply, something strange happens. I start thinking if I answer too quickly, I will seem too needy and desperate. If I’m having a longer conversation, say with my Mum for example, that’s OK to reply instantly. But if it’s just something short I’m discussing with a friend, then I don’t know what to do. What is the optimal amount of time to let pass before replying so they don’t think I’m weird? Sometimes I make myself wait five minutes before answering a message, sometimes a couple of days before answering an email. I know I’m overthinking all this but I can’t help it.

I also don’t like when there is no definite ending to a text conversation. No “goodbye” or “talk to you later.” I am left wondering if that was it or if I’m supposed to say something else. What if they are sitting on the other end waiting for something and I don’t know?

I wonder sometimes if this is related to my social anxiety or whether this is something else.

You can follow this journey here.

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Thinkstock photo via diego_cervo.


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