I’m Sorry I Suck at Responding to Text Messages – An Introvert’s Apology
Ding! A message notification pops on my phone and my heart skips a beat. My mind then calculates a series of questions from the sudden text.
Is it someone from work? Does someone want to hang out? Does someone want to ask me a question I’m might not have to answer to? How long will the conversation last?
These questions come to me in a matter of seconds when I see my phone flashing its notification signs. Not because I hate talking to people, but because communicating to anyone over the phone is a draining process. I’d rather be in person when I’m speak to someone because it creates a more intimate process.
But not everyone gets as edgy when it comes to random notifications on their phones. Just last week I was sitting down in a food court and noticed a bunch of teenagers sitting together laughing while their eyes were glued to their phones. Every ringtone their phone sounded shot a huge grin across their faces as if they received a Christmas gift.
It’s not unusual to spend most of your time playing on your phone even while you’re with someone else and even I admit that the sound of text notifications can send a positive shiver down my spine when I’m expecting someone. But only to a certain extent.
I enjoy receiving text messages, I like receiving Snapchats, and I like being e-mailed. Perhaps the only way of communicating I’m not comfortable with are phone calls. But usually when I’m alone and building my social energy, I like to hide from the rest of the world.
If someone isn’t REALLY close to me, I will admit that I suck at replying back to people messages if I want alone time. I even suck at responding to people either on my “Contact” page or Facebook Fan Page because of the fear of engaging with my fans. Questions pop into my head such as,
“What if I’m not the person they expect me to be,”
“What if I can’t help them,” or
“Why would they want to speak to me?“
It’s not even those questions alone that makes it difficult to respond back to a message. It’s the process of engaging with another human being that makes me nervous because I go through an entire thought process of how the conversation will go.
It feels awesome to know I’m reaching out to introverts across the world who struggle with the same things as me, but it still frightens me to engage with them whenever they contact me.
When I receive a text message from my family, I get excited that they’re contacting me but then receive a fast nervousness of where the conversation might lead and how long will it last.
However, what makes responding back to text messages hard for introverts are the plain and shallow conversations that we encounter. It’s the idea of using the small amount of social energy we have just to fulfill someone’s boredom when they send a shallow text that leads no where.
Introverts Don’t like Small Texts
We all know the phrase that introverts don’t like small talk. But the same could be said about small text messages too. When we interact with another human, we’re not looking for boring generic conversations that we could predict. We don’t have an urge to respond back when we see, “Hey” “how are you” or “lol”. There’s not much where the conversation could lead with those plain statements.
Ashley even gets annoyed when someone gives her boring one word responses that gives her nothing to work with. She only sees them as a sign to end the conversation if she has nothing better to do.
My interest in somebody diminishes a lot if we’re talking about the typical things we do throughout the day. And the more I can predict where our conversation will lead, the less enthuse I am about contacting them back.
I think a lot of introverts do this, but not something they’re entirely comfortable with admitting. Perhaps there’s one or two people in their lives they’re willing to contact almost immediately when they receive a message from them, but for everyone else it takes a few minutes or hours because that means they have to interact with another human being.
Unlike their close friends or family, an introvert has to go through the same interview process of finding out about another person’s life and the possibility of reliving the same generic conversations.
That’s why online dating gets boring for people too. As an experiment, Ashley had setup a Tinder profile and it was amusing to witness the same generic openers she would get from guys. Most of them would be, “Hey,” “Hello”, “You’re cute”, or “How are you.”
Ashley usually knows how to communicate with anyone who sends her a plain message because she enjoys speaking to people and has the energy to communicate with everyone. But even for her, she loses the thrill of speaking to someone once she can predict where the conversation will go.
But as someone with less social energy than her, depending on the person contacting me it takes a certain period of time for me to respond back. If I see the conversation getting boring with just basic interview questions, I have no need to contact them back as fast as someone who’s texting me their weird dream about aliens and pirates.
Introverts Need a Sense of Excitement
Perhaps you’re speaking to an introvert yourself and you notice their response rate to you is diminishing day by day. Chances are you’re not giving them enough excitement or thought bubbles that makes them want to contact you as quickly as they did before.
Like all new relationships, things start off hot and spicy. But as time proceeds and you both get a general idea of who each other are, the conversations become boring. It goes from the exciting Race you won last week to what you’re eating for dinner that night. No one, especially introverts, like boring topics because it’s not the things that ramble on in our heads throughout the day.
Sure, I’ve had moments where I pondered what to eat for lunch, but it’s not a topic I’m passionate about discussing. In the past I spoke to women who I thought was attractive, but quickly lost my interest in them because they had no personality to explore. They couldn’t carry out a conversation or be silly.
Perhaps they weren’t that interested in me either, but the rule still applies if you fail to keep a topic exciting from both ends where you and the other person are sharing deep thoughts, it can destroy the communication process.
Don’t Be Offended if it takes an Introvert Longer to Respond Back
Not all introverts are the same and each can take a certain period of time to respond back to someone depending on their social energy amount. An introvert can take a long time to respond back because they know you’ll respond immediately and still need some time to themselves.
An introvert can be in the middle of reading a book or painting a picture when you text them and they choose not to respond back because that’ll ruin their thought process. As I write this article, I lost my interest in responding back to my text messages or Snapchats. I don’t intend on ignoring them for the rest of the day. Just until I complete my work or feel comfortable taking a break.
When I’m peopled out and need some privacy, I delay responding back to people close to me or refuse to answer any phone calls because I need to recharge my mentality.
People think it should be easy for introverts to respond back immediately because it’s only a text message. But it’s not just a text messages. We may not be using our voice to talk or engage with someone in person, but texting is exhausting because you’re still interacting with another human.
You’re no longer in your world, but in someone else’s too. And the dangers of texting is that you can accidentally be communicating with several people simultaneously. It starts off responding to your parents text, then girlfriend, then friends, then coworkers, and that random person you gave your number to. Before you know it you lose that alone time you wanted and texting a group of people.
When it comes to texting someone back, an introvert likes to plan and devise their thought process so they can write the right words. And planning what to write back takes up a small sum of energy. It may not be as much as engaging with someone in person, but it still drains them to some degree. Especially if they’re texting several people.
So if you’re wondering why an introvert may not be contacting you as fast as you want them to, don’t take it personally. They might be trying to spend some time to themselves before they can engage with anyone else.
Is there a chance they might forget to respond back during their alone time? Yes. But don’t look at it as a personal attack or as a sign of rejection. People are sometimes just forgetful when they have other things going on in their life.
The Dark Side That Sometimes Happen
Although it’s okay to not feel guilty about forgetting to respond back to text messages, NEVER take it for granted. You’re still communicating with another human being even if you choose not to respond back to them.
When an introvert ignores someone’s text message, unless they already know about your introverted nature, it can make them believe you’re not interested in them even if you are.
Chances are you’ve probably damaged a previous relationship with someone because they knew you read their message, but didn’t respond back in a reasonable time.
There’s been times where I lost potential relationships because I ignored someone for too long when I wanted some time alone. I didn’t mean to do it. It just happened. One minute I saw their text message and before I thought of an appropriate response I got lost in a Netflix series, forgetting to respond altogether.
I’m forgetful in the sense of communicating with other people such as my family, friends, or girlfriend when my attention gets caught in a personal activity.
Most introverts struggle throughout their lives by accidentally ruining relationships because of the habit of procrastinating on communication. We forget to communicate with our parents who want to make sure we’re safe. We forget to communicate with our friends when they want to make plans. We forget to communicate with the handsome guy who you gave your number to.
If you’re an introvert who sometimes have the habit of ignoring your friends, it’s best to shift the habit around before it’s too late and you lose someone important. You don’t have to respond back to someone immediately, but don’t make it seem like you don’t care about them either. Contact them within an hour if you can and keep it short if you must.
If you have an introverted friend who tends to forget to contact you, please forgive them because they’re not doing it intentionally, it’s just a weird habit we tend to develop.
The Dangers of Isolation
There’s nothing wrong with not immediately responding back to someone’s text message and in some cases actually preferred to not show signs of neediness. But like everything else in life, there comes a limit on how much we could abuse this privilege.
The biggest danger to taking our time to respond back to others is forming a habit out of it. The more we do it to everyone, the easier it becomes to do it to the people we actually care about. It becomes more natural to take our time responding back to a love one because we’ve done it to random people we gave our number to.
As we wrap our mind upon our own pleasures of isolation, we forget everyone else. We forget everyone until we realize we accidentally set ourselves for a lonely life. We then face the problem of rebuilding our past relationships we accidentally damaged.
And this is a problem, my introverted friend.
Rekindling Old Flames
When we damage our relationships, we’re stuck with the obligation to either restore it or cut that person out of our life. And as easy as it is to cut people out of lives, it’s not the healthy way to live because it quickly leads to loneliness and regret. But when we’re stuck with the obligation to fix a relationship, we use an incredible amount of energy to talk to everyone who we managed to hurt.
It’s not like we hate engaging with people over the phone, but for some introverts it can be a draining process on our minds. And when we’re afraid of damaging another relationship, we’re constantly on alert to respond with our phones. We then live through the irritating process of:
Ding! I should respond now in case I forget and make it appear I don’t care about them.
Ding! I want to keep texting back, but I’m enjoying this new episode of Sherlock.
Ding! I’ll respond back, but maybe in 5 minutes after reading this book.
Ding! Just give me 20 minutes. I want to enjoy this thought process.
Before you know it several hours pasted and you’re embarrassed to respond back. Now you’re back to square one of rekindling the relationship.
An Introvert’s Apology
As an introvert, I actually prefer texting you versus talking over the telephone. I despite small talks that might take place over a telephone and it’s easier to convey my thoughts into words with text messages. But I’m sorry to anyone who’s reading this who may have texted or messaged me and I failed to respond back.
Such as conversing with another human being, texting them requires social energy that I sometimes don’t have. After work, hanging out with personal friends, spending time with my girlfriend, and dealing with random people, sometimes the only thing I want to do is rest at home.
And you might be the same way too. Maybe you sometimes forget to respond back to people you like because you’re mentally exhausted and want a break from the world. If so, use this article as a form of an apology and send it to someone who can understand an introvert’s struggle in this world when it comes to responding back to people text messages.