Why It Sucks So Hard When Someone Doesn’t Text Back

Lauren Finkel
Lauren Finkel

It’s that pesky millennial problem. The read by notification. The “You posted something online, and I’m trying not to be a freak about this, but I know this means you just aren’t responding to me. And that sucks.” And truly, it does suck. Sucks a big one.

Maybe it’s not even a generational problem. It might just be the ease of technology. How easy it has become to know we’re ignoring one another. And eventually, we all just feel like idiots. Vulnerable. Exposed. Idiots.

I’m just as guilty, I suppose. I might even be culprit number one, hiding from truths. I’m always pulling the, “oh, I didn’t see this!” and we all know it’s bullshit. Or maybe I never say anything back. I know, it’s horrible. I know, I don’t deserve to be upset when I do the same fucking thing. See, I like to make everything so transparent on the internet. But that doesn’t mean I’m as honest IRL.

“I write for the internet!” I shout, as if that lets me off the hook. As if my poetry and honesty I spill gives me an out from uncomfortable conversations. I’m not any better, any worse. I’m just trying to figure this life thing out too. I just have a more public forum to do it with. Maybe that isn’t fair to the people in my life. Maybe it is. I don’t know.

That’s a constant theme of my life: I don’t know. Like with texting. It’s this bullshit thing of feeling out of my mind when someone doesn’t respond. I wonder if it’s some pride or ego trip, but then I remember how much I’ve made a habit of chipping away at my own dignity. I know people won’t text back, but I still do it.

I know he doesn’t love me, but I still ask.

I know it won’t mean much in the morning, but I still let my fingers trace his collarbones.

I know I won’t even get a response, but I take a shot anyway.

Lately, I’m unsure if I’m becoming more brave or just more foolish. It’s this facade of being unapologetic, when the truth? The truth is I’m saying sorry to myself. My fingers act before I can think on it. I’m looking at my phone, trying to reword conversations, trying to pretend I’m chill. I’m trying to pretend I’m the cool girl.

But I’m not. I want you to respond. And it’s hypocritical. I understand. But that doesn’t stop this feeling. My face is burning and my eyes are searching. I don’t know. This reoccurring theme. I don’t know.

The reason when someone doesn’t text you back sucks so much is because it leaves space. It leaves time for you to reexamine yourself. The thing you said. The things you didn’t say. It’s not even about this other person who didn’t text you back. It’s about you. It’s the things you don’t want to honestly answer. The questions that sit in the back of your mind. Am I worthy? Am I annoying? Who the fuck even am I?

It’s an emptiness that creates discomfort. It lets us seep in our loneliness. It’s this great chasm, this void we’re trying to fill and we don’t even know what with. Youth. How truly unsure we all are. I think I’m becoming older and more mature at 23, but fuck it. I’m still so unsure.

I don’t know, I say to myself. But I stay feeling like a cliche, looking at my phone, just hoping he’ll text me. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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About the author

Ari Eastman

✨ real(ly not) chill. poet. writer. mental health activist. mama shark. ✨

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