I’m sure within years there will be a word for this phenomena in the DM: the self-soothing technique of convincing yourself that technology is standing in the way of communicating with your “special someone”. When he doesn’t text back, he just hasn’t seen it yet. When she doesn’t answer her phone, she’s probably in an area without service.
The truth: she’s ignoring you, and she’s who is in the wrong here.
The commodification of love in the 21st century is a subject worthy of a semester’s worth of teaching (but there is a book: The Social Construction of Sexuality by Steven Seidman), so let’s touch on it only briefly. When you start weighing a person’s importance of how often they respond, or how little they care, the practices of gift-giving and selflessness that make love beautiful become inversed. That is, the success of a relationship starts to be based on how little someone gives instead of how much. This creates competition in the relationship immediately, a situation psychologists would refer to as the “power” stage; although it apparently should follow the honeymoon stage of the relationship, it is enacted, really, the first time you decide to cut off communication to your lover – for a few hours, or even days, in the hopes they will care more for you. Ain’t nothing like makin someone feel rejected to get them to love ya, right?
But this seems to be the trend of modern relationships. I do it myself – post an Instagram instead of returning a text so the person knows, like can plainly see, that I am ignoring their attempts to contact me. This practice works to expand the borders of what we consider “crazy” or “needy”, especially (and unfairly) if it’s a girl who’s acting as the pursuant: two consecutive texts and she’s a psycho.
The implications of this kind of “whoever cares less, wins” mindset are multitudinous as well as alarming. It perpetuates the idea that women should play hard to get, like a Diana constantly escaping hunters pursuing her virginity – the less you pursue your lover, the more he/she will want to heavily pursue you. I’m not saying that being chased is bad; what I’m saying is this becomes problematic once feelings and attempts of contact become reciprocated and the game of pretending someone doesn’t care doesn’t end – in a lot of cases, it just gets more intense. It makes love not into just a game but a privilege, a victory, to whoever ends up being the most emotionally alienated.
I really believe this game we’ve made of relationships is fueled by the nature of cellular communication. Anyone can orchestrate when they want to talk to their lover, how often, and can even plan for hours what they are – or aren’t – going to say. Now of course not every person you’ve ever decided to text or even date deserves your ultimate love and affection; relationships don’t work out and rejection happens. But what I’m so surprised to be realizing lately is that rejection is often completely silent. One day you’re talking to the person you’re dating, everything’s cool, and the next day you don’t hear back from them. After a few hours, maybe a day, you think “Ok, I haven’t texted her first in a while.” A few hours later, nothing. “This is too weird,” you think, “did I do something wrong? No no. Something’s probably wrong with her phone.”
And then you never hear from her. Each day you slip farther away from the warmth of romantic excitement into the slow cold death of being ignored. And from studying the effects of neglect of humans from babies to adults, I can say there is almost nothing worse than being made to seem that you have disappeared from someone’s reality. It’s not only careless, it’s cruel.
But this is the reality, and I hope you take this as a testament to how humans should treat each other and not just an attempt to sooth your aching heart: the person who won’t respond to even tell you you’re a fucking loser IS the fucking loser. A pussy. Weaker than a butthole. That is, fucking pathetic. So I say to you, the girls and boys waiting to be texted back: don’t. It’s hard to admit but if someone has randomly left you high and dry, you were pursuing a worthless asshole the entire time. Even when passion winds down and you no longer want to continue a relationship with someone, love does not cease to exist. If she’s that cold, she’s the psycho. If he can’t give you an explanation after all you shared together, he’s way more emotionally broken than you ever knew. Be grateful you got out while you did, but don’t continue the game of taking the selflessness, the gentle care, the actual love out of romance. If you love someone and they love you back, it won’t matter who texted first, last, a thousand times in a row. Love, believe it or not, does not reside in the screen of your hella cracked iPhone 5.
Caring isn’t crazy. It’s all there is.