Talia Levy

June 5, 2023

don't text me back right away

I like when people don’t text me back quickly. If I start texting someone new and they reply to me right away, I begin to wonder what they’re doing with their life.

Sometimes we’re on our phones, not doing anything, and can respond quickly. But when this is a pattern and you’re replying back in seconds, constantly, I will ask myself whether you have a life. And whether you’re doing anything.

When people take time before texting me back, I know they have priorities other than me and their phones, in their lives. They’re working, going to school, or are spending time with their friends, family and hobbies.

And even if someone is doing one of those things but is still texting back fast, they’re not being present in what they’re doing.

If they’re responding to you every second, while they’re with their family, they’re not “with their family.” They are with you, texting you, just physically surrounded by their family while doing so.

When someone’s not always available to text, I know they’re busy with and present in what they’re doing. And even if they’re not busy in the traditional sense—say they’re just taking time away from their phone for their mental health; that also shows me they can prioritize themselves and take a step back from their screens when they want to.

Those were a few, direct assumptions made from texting a fast-replier, but there are a number of indirect ones that can be made as well, many of which are also negative.

One is that they’re likely a people pleaser. If they feel the need to reply instantly to everyone, fearing people will get mad at them if they don’t, that’s a big sign of wanting to people please. And it won’t do that person much good in the long run.

They’re always going to put other people before themselves; they won’t ever consider what or do the things that they want.

Fast text-backs can also indicate attachment issues. If a person is attached, they may feel the need to hold your attention 24/7, feeling scared that if they don’t, they’d lose you.

They want to be in contact with you constantly, so they’re always texting you. Attachment issues are negative because they can create jealousy and distrust, specifically in romantic relationships.

The third indirect assumption is that if it doesn’t seem like a person is doing anything with their lives, they might not be driven or have any goals.

It’s true that many of us are still finding our interests, but the journey of finding them takes work. Work that a person would be off their phone for. So it shows that they not only don’t have interests, they’re not actively looking for them either.

And again for romantic relationships, it can definitely become a problem if you have your own life and stuff going on, but you are their life. You can’t be their life. And it’s on them to know that.

The big imbalance of how much you each have going on aside from one another can be detrimental. They can make you feel guilty about the time you spend away from them, control issues will likely start, and the attachment issues I just discussed, may surface.

The fifth, indirect point is that if they’re always on their phone, texting you back, it calls into question how much quiet time they spend with themselves and their mind. How comfortable they are alone with their thoughts.

That level of comfort can be telling of how good a friend or partner they’d be. Because the quiet time we have to reflect is a time when we learn what we do and don’t like. It’s a time when we better understand our life experiences to grow and become better people. It can be hard to accomplish those things while constantly in conversation with others over text.

So I definitely pay attention to how fast people text me back. Again, sometimes even I reply instantly, but it’s definitely not all the time. And it’s a good sign when someone else doesn’t text back quickly either. In my head, I’m hoping they’re having fun with whatever they’re doing, and I can’t wait to hear all about it when they do want to talk.

Another point to keep in mind is that it’s important to be conscious of and intentional about how fast you text someone back when you first meet them.

Even if I have a lot of free time and could text a person back right away when I first meet them, I don’t. For a boy, it’s not even about playing hard to get. I do this because I believe that what you start off with, creates the expectation for how you text moving forwards.

This might not be a super conscious expectation, but it’s still there. To take myself as an example—I’m one of the most chill and understanding people you’ll meet as it comes to taking time to text me back.

Because we’re busy people, and I get it. If it takes you three hours? Great. A day? That’s fine too. A week? It’s all good.

Assuming that when you do text me, you’re coming with good energy and something to say, I’m just grateful you’re making time for me, whenever you do.

Because out of all the people in the world, you’ve decided to make the time to add your energy and value into my life. That makes me happy, and I’m thankful for that.

So while I understand totally, I’ve noticed that when I text the people who replied instantly in the beginning, as opposed to those who took more time, the “expectations” in my mind feel different.

“Expectations” is in quotes because of course I don’t consciously expect anything of anyone, but if the instant people now take more time to text me back, I find myself subconsciously expecting them to reply faster.

For the long time group, I feel no certain way about them taking more time. But for the instant texters, it feels not normal and like they’re breaking out of what I’ve come to know and “expect” of them.

This may be something that just I experience. Maybe some people have a fast reply expectation of everyone because that’s what they believe is the right and respectful thing to do. But I do think there’s something to be said for how you start off.

Because although it’s unstated, it’s a boundary in a sense. It’s a boundary that’s being set from the start. And it can be hard sometimes to redraw boundaries once people fall into patterns they’re comfortable with, especially in romantic relationships.

The other person also may not be happy with the sudden change. If you started talking to them over the summer, maybe you were able to text them constantly. But then school and work started and you now make much less time to text them. They might not like that.

But say you met them during the school year; there’s a chance they might have been fine with it because they didn’t have your instant reply time to compare it to.

Yes, they may just not like it in general and wouldn’t have been happy, even if you guys started talking in the school year. But I think there’s something to be said for the contrast that would appear between the two scenarios. The difference is felt, and they may care for the second option less, because of their comparison of it to the first.

And again, preferences become normal, and it can be difficult or uncomfortable to break out of them. So I would start with as many boundaries, said or unsaid, in the beginning, as you can.

Of course there’s great value in people having open minds and being open to boundaries and preferences changing over time. We change and evolve constantly throughout our whole lives, and it’s admirable if others support you in that growth, rather than become critical of it.

But starting with the boundaries you have during a given time in your life, can help you better find those you’re compatible with.

If you change and they see themselves growing with you, that’s great.

If they accept your changes, but don’t feel you’re compatible as friends or partners anymore, that’s also fine and a normal part of life. It’s just the people who aren’t open-minded to change that you want to look out for.

So if not wanting the other person to expect instant replies from you is a preference of yours, start with it. Don’t reply quickly in the beginning, even if you can.

Fast text-backs show me the person’s not doing anything. It shows me they’re not present and aren’t taking time for their goals or mental health. It has trust issues, attachment, and jealousy written all over it.

People think fast replies is how they prioritize another person. While time made in general for a person shows care and reply time does play a role in that, it’s not all of it, and replying constantly all the time does more harm than good.

Most of the time, I don’t care how long it takes you. Because I’m doing my own thing, and you’re doing yours. We’ll talk when we can, and it’ll be great when we do. Texting back fast just shows me you don’t prioritize yourself, and I wouldn't want that for people.

So prioritize yourself. Don’t apologize for taking time to text people back. That also can make the other person feel like that’s what you expect of them.

And be intentional about your reply time when you meet a new person, so they don’t start to expect instant replies from you. Be open-minded to boundaries changing, and start with the ones you want, staying true to them as long as they serve you.

Accept that boundaries reveal the people who are truly compatible with you, note the people in your life who are open to them changing, and keep only those who respect them.

About Talia Levy

i write about relationships, self-help, & other random reflections i have. new posts every sunday.