Why you shouldn’t double-text

I’ve done some thinking about the etiquette (or lack thereof) of double-texting. I’ve come to realize that simply limiting double-texting makes me, and the person I’m texting, feel better about the conversation, and probably allows us to feel more comfortable with each other based on mutual respect.

First of all, by double-texting, I don’t mean sending multiple texts at a time. I think that texts should be consolidated as much as possible to cut down on the number of times the other person’s phone vibrates or bings, but texts can be broken up into multiple sections to answer different questions within a conversation, to express different emphases, or to separate jokes from punchlines—really, a text can get broken for many defensible reasons. In any case, to me, double-texting doesn’t mean “sending multiple texts at a time.” Someone stands guilty of a double-text when too much time has passed since the other person’s last response, and they feel anxious that the other person has lost interest in the conversation and is no longer reading their texts, or perhaps the other person just can’t be bothered to reply in a reliable, timely fashion because the conversation has slid down towards the bottom on their list of priorities. These are scary possibilities!

Here’s what a double-text is: when you wonder, “What’s she doing? Did she get my last text? Maybe she just didn’t hear her phone. I’ll just text her “_(fill in the blank)_.” That’s when you should NOT send the text.

In crude terms, if they haven’t texted back in 15 minutes, and you don’t have anything truly novel to say—as in, you haven’t just shaken hands with Dave Grohl or cured cancer—then texting them again would constitute a double-text, in my book.

Accepting this rule of thumb can save you the anxiety of wondering, “Did they see their phone? Is it too soon to text again?” Within that 15 minute window, I think it’s OK to send another text. Maybe you need to clarify something, or you want to ask an open-ended discussion-starting question real quick before too much time has passed. If you’re asking questions an hour later because they still haven’t responded to the first thing you sent, that’s double-texting. It seems clear to them, and it should look clear to you, that you feel close to desperate for their attention. That’s not good for either of you!

Double-texting puts pressure on the recipient and shows desperation or anxiety on part of the sender, and let’s be honest, that’s because, most of the time, you do feel a bit desperate, scared, or anxious when you continue to receive no response. The recipient may think that you’re worried or anxious about the relationship, that you don’t have anything else going on, or that you’re not confident and comfortable with how they feel about you. Here’s the kicker: regardless of what they think, double-texting ultimately reflects on how confident and comfortable you feel with yourself.

The ability to control the urge to double-text shows patience, comfort, control, and confidence. Think about it: if you text and they don’t answer, but you don’t double-text, then that says to them that you can wait until they feel good and ready to respond. That can mean that you are patient and respectful: you know that they’re at work, out on the town with friends, on vacation, whatever, and you can give them space and be by yourself for a bit without issue. Or it can mean that you have other stuff going on, because perhaps they think you’re busy and active with your professional and social lives. It can also mean that you are confident and comfortable enough with yourself that you don’t need them to talk to you in order to keep yourself occupied and feeling good about yourself—it’s the difference between “I need to hear from you” and “I want to hear from you.” In short, double-texting shows a need for affirmation and validation, but refraining from double-texting shows respect for yourself and respect for them.

But what happens if you don’t have a healthy mental balance or loads of self-respect, so you really do feel anxious about why this person isn’t texting you back? First of all, you should pay attention to that feeling and spend some time in self-reflection. Relationships can show you the things about yourself that need work. They can also confuse you into thinking that you need no work at all, or that you have more problems than you really do. In any case, you will never regret time spent on self-reflection, which is self-care. If they’re not texting you back because they’re not interested, then it is in your best interest to develop a healthy-enough level of self-respect to say, “Hey, that’s their loss” and then be OK with moving on. If they’re not texting you back simply because you’re overwhelming them, well, that can be improved!

If you can’t stand self-reflection, then try this: double-texting might not indicate deeper personal issues that you need to sort out on your own, but it might instead actually create tension and anxiety for you, even if you already do have healthy self-respect. When they get your double-texts and they feel overwhelmed and obligated to the conversation, they may distance themselves further, which will bewilder you more and create more anxiety than you already have. If double-texting is your natural way of communication, I urge you to break the habit. I think that the discipline of waiting for a response can only help a relationship.

In sum, refraining from double-texting shows that you value the other person’s time and independence, and it shows that you can wait for them to respond—as in, you don’t need them to respond in that needy, “I showed you my crunchwrap please answer me” way, which means that you have enough self-respect to let them ghost if they want to ghost you. It may also show that you have things going on in your life that you want to focus on and take the time to develop. Here’s the thing: none of these things may already be true about you, but it will appear to them as if these things are true, and you may even find yourself worrying less, simply by not sending that second (or third, or fourth) text!


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