If Your Partner Takes Forever To Text You Back, Here’s How To Talk To Them About It

I love texting. Wait, let me rephrase that: I am grateful for texting. That’s because I remember the barbaric dark ages when you used to have to actually call people. So much small talk, so many awkward moments when you would want to get off the phone but couldn’t because the other person was refusing to wrap it up. Fortunately for some, those dark days are over and now we can just skip all the chatter. However, even texting is not without little, ahem, irritating quirks, like being left “on read” or when your partner takes forever to text you back Here’s what to do when your partner takes a really long time to reply.

If you feel like your partner leaves your texts hanging regularly, it can be really frustrating. But is this something you can even address? If the two of you are in a healthy relationship, you should be able to talk to them about anything, so really the question is: How do you bring it up with them? To help with that, I reached out to NYC relationship expert Susan Winter and clinical psychologist Joshua Klapow, Ph.D., to weigh in on how long is too long to reasonably wait for a response, and what to do if your partner refuses to hear you out.

How Long Should You Reasonably Wait For A Reply?

'What's your schedule like this week?' is a 'We Need To Talk' text to send your partner that is firm, but fair

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I have to be honest — I am not exactly the most patient person. When I send a text, I really expect to hear back pretty much right away. But I also realize that’s not really fair, so the question is: How long should you wait for a reply from your partner? Winter says that all depends on a few factors. For instance, “If you’re in an exclusive relationship where there’s trust and a good sense of communication, a couple of hours would be OK — especially if your partner’s busy at work or traveling.” Winter says to only consider getting worried when you “already suspect something may be amiss in [your] relationship.” Additionally, she suggests noting when there’s “a break in the pattern. This can often be a red flag.”

Klapow too points out that circumstances and content really vary between relationships and individual messages — if someone’s in class or in an important meeting, you’re probably not going to get a response within five minutes, or possibly even an hour or two. “People text on different cadences depending on a couple of different factors,” he says, including what they’re doing and their own personal texting style. “One of the things I caution people is that there very often is a context to why they’re responding quicker or slower that may have nothing to do with you or their interest.”

But if your partner normally gets back to you pretty quickly and then starts letting hours pass, Winter says it’s understandable to get a little nervous. “This is especially the case if there’s no good reason for the delay. At this point it looks like a case of disrespect,” she says. “And anything longer than 12 hours begins to look like something far more problematic; an illness, a crisis, or direct avoidance.” Klapow, in turn, gives 24 hours as a start-to-worry mark.

How To Talk To Your Partner About It

Assuming that the delay in response is not just a one-off or isn’t accompanied by a good explanation, it’s reasonable to bring it up with your partner. Klapow advises opening the conversation in a non-accusatory way, with the purpose of seeking information. “I would communicate that you are wondering why there seems to be such a delay,” he says. He suggests questions like whether there are times that your partner just isn’t able to respond, or what they see as an appropriately timely texting response. The overall point, he says, is to understand each others’ communication style and expectations.

One thing not to do? Set a firm deadline for when they need to respond. “Before you set quotas on how much time or how quickly [to respond],” he says, “you need to understand your partner more.”

Winter offers some suggestions on how to initiate a conversation about how your partner’s “habitual problem of being tardy with their texts … makes you feel.” She suggests:

“When you don’t respond to me, I feel like a non-priority. That hurts.”

“When it takes a couple of hours to hear back from you, I feel diminished and unimportant to you.”

“It really makes me happy when you text me back right away. It makes me feel closer to you.”

Focusing on the effect it has on you, rather than coming at them with an accusatory tone, will help prevent them from going on the defensive and make them more likely to hear you out.

Another important thing to consider? How you’ve been texting them. If you’re spamming them with texts in a short time, or asking three questions all at once in a four-inch-long block, your partner might not have the ability to respond quickly or with an in-depth text. “Those are the kinds of things that sometimes are hard for people to process,” Klapow says. “And that should be part of your conversation.”

Here’s What To Do If Nothing Changes

Attractive man wears hoodie, ignores live communication with wife, focused in modern smart phone, reads news online, sad dark skinned woman feels jealous as her husabnd messages with someone

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If nothing changes after you’ve spoken to your partner about how you feel, Winter says you may want to first try digging a little deeper in order to see if you can get at the cause of why they are lagging in getting back to you.

“Ask your partner why they don’t bother to respond,” suggests Winter. “Is it that they hate texting? Is there a reason for the conscious neglect of a response?” She adds that it’s important to “explain that you’re not trying to monitor their activity. You’re trying to establish a natural and fluid flow of communication that reflects mutual respect for each other,” adding, “Explain that a timely response acknowledges your text and makes for a happy partnership.”

“Make it about the relationship,” Klapow advises, instead of something your partner has supposedly done wrong. “This has to do with how you communicate. He points out that if someone simply ignored or didn’t reply to a question in person, it would be unacceptable. “You wouldn’t just not say anything. You might say, ‘I’m busy, can I answer you in 10 minutes?’ … Texting sort of works the same way.”

The question now is: If your partner isn’t changing their texting behavior, is it a relationship killer? Winter says it really depends. For example, “if the only place your relationship is suffering is in the ‘text realm,’ you may still be fine. Every relationship has its issues. If you know your partner loves you (yet has this quirk), you may just have to suck it up. Or, suggest they call you.” However, it can also be a symptom of a larger problem in the relationship, one worth taking a deeper look at. “A lapse in communication is only an issue when it’s the tip of the iceberg,” says Winter. “If this is one of many issues where you find yourself disrespected and marginalized, then do yourself a favor and reevaluate your partnership.”

One final thing to consider: Is this just an issue of them being a little tardy in answering you? Or is it really just another symptom of a more serious problem in the relationship? Really, only you can answer that question, but it may mean facing truths that you’ve been avoiding. But the bottom line is that you deserve to be in a relationship where you feel valued and respected. So, find that person, and you’ll likely find that all the texting stuff falls into place. But seriously though, don’t leave me “on read.”

 

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8 Warning Signs A Partner Doesn’t Respect You

Amelia recently sent me a link to a Tumblr that will absolutely gut you. It’s called When Women Refuse and it collects news article about women who became victims of violence after they tried to leave a male partner or rejected sexual advances. We know that violence is fundamentally about control and therefore the most dangerous time during an abusive relationship is when a person tries to leave. All too often, children and other bystanders are injured or killed, too. The statistics about abusive relationships show that they are frighteningly common. According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, one in four women and one in seven men over age 18 will be the victims of severe physical violence during their lifetime. Statistics also show that half of both men and women will experience “psychological aggression” by a partner during their lifetime. Stereotypes about what an “abused woman” is supposed to look like don’t do us any good because victims are all around us. They are our neighbors, our cousins, our sisters, our coworkers, our friends. Abusive relationships thrive in part because over time, the pattern of the abuse becomes normal. The abuse starts with smaller areas of control and then escalates until it becomes reality, which the person on the inside may not even see. But even if we have not been in a textbook abusive relationship per se, I’m sure many of us have had moments with partner or a friend where he or she did something that felt wrong.

In the spirit of #YesAllWomen — which is drawing attention to the physical and sexual violence all women experience —  I want to share some warning signs that a partner or other person does not respect you, your boundaries, or your personal space. These are all anonymous, real world examples from me, my friends and co-workers.

1. He shows up at your work, class, or home unannounced and uninvited. He causes a scene until you acknowledge him.

“I had just broken up with my ex-boyfriend when he began consistently showing up at my place unannounced, screaming at me through my door until I showed my face.”

“[One guy] memorized my class schedule without telling me and would often meet me at my classroom to walk me to my next one, even when it meant he’d be late to his own. It felt stifling, but because he was ‘nice,’ I didn’t know how to tell him to stop.”

2. She refuses to leave your home when you ask her to go. Or he uses doors, locks, or his own physical strength to keep you from leaving the home.

“My boyfriend and I were in a fight in my apartment—a crazy screaming match. I told him he needed to leave immediately and he wouldn’t. I had to pick up the phone and dial 911 before he left.”

3. He tries to force sex though sexual assault, rape or coercion.

“In college, I had a crush on a South African tennis player who lived in my dorm. My aunt sent me homemade cookies and I took them up to his room to offer him one. He locked me in the room and said he wouldn’t let me leave until I gave him a blow job. I didn’t and he sat at his desk, eating all the cookies. I was crying, and finally his roommate came back and I grabbed whatever was left of my cookies and ran out. I didn’t report him, but thankfully other women did for similar instances, and he was asked to leave school. He moved back to South Africa before completing his sophomore year.”

“[There’s this thing where] you say you don’t want to do something sexual  — for example, anal — and he does it anyway and claims it was an accident. But it totally, totally wasn’t. This happened to a friend of mine, ugh.”

4. She puts you down. She tells you that you’re lucky to be with her.

“My ex-girlfriend was constantly making little comments about my weight vis a vis the food I ate and how often I worked out. She would make remarks like “Oh, you’re going to eat that? I thought you were trying to lose weight.” She also complained when I cut and colored my hair (I liked my hair!) and bought me new clothes that she encouraged me to wear. It was almost like she wanted to dress me up herself, as if how I looked reflected on her. The kicker was when she told me that I was lucky to be with her. The implication was that no one else would want me.”

5. He tries to control your friendships (i.e. he isolates you from other people).

“I was not allowed to have my own male friends unless he was also friends with them, and under no circumstance was I to hang out with any of them by myself without him.”

“A guy that I was friends with in high school invited us both to a party at his place. My ex freaked out because he thought this guy had a crush on me. He’d never even met the guy before but he just assumed he must want to hang out because he wanted me. He basically wouldn’t let us go to the party because he thought it would signal to the guy that I was ‘interested.’ It was so ridiculous.”

6. She refuses to let you have privacy, such as reading your texts, emails and IMs.

“[She was] demanding to know my Facebook/phone passwords.”

7. He threatens to hurt himself if you don’t do what he wants or otherwise manipulates you into believing his behavior is your fault.

“He threatened to kill himself by driving off a bridge (and calling me from the car to make me believe him) if I broke up with him.”

8. She ignores “no.”

“I think there can be really little signs in the way a partner treats your body and responds to the word “no.” For example, continuing to tickle you even when you’re begging her to stop and your tone has clearly turned serious instead of fun and flirty; making comments about what you’re wearing/should wear that make you feel weird or uncomfortable; pushing you REALLY hard to do things that scare you instead of respecting your boundaries.”

If you think you are in an abusive relationship, you can get more information from the National Domestic Violence HotlineSafe Horizon, or Love Is Respect.

 

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Things Men Should Never Say to Women

Without question, these are fundamental values.

I’ve done a lot of crazy shit, but no matter what situation I’ve ever been in, I always treated women with respect.

Please… please do the same.

In a polite society, you’re expected to treat men and women differently.

Even leaving aside outmoded schools of thought like chivalry, there’s a tacit understanding of different rules for interacting with different genders.

You can say what you mean in as mean a way as you feel without running into trouble. However, women are more sensitive beings, and according to this logic, you need to be polite and on your best behavior — no curse words, no crass sexual talk and so on.

However, it’s worth highlighting some very valid reasons we should think about what we say to women differently than what we say to men. Namely, that women’s lived experiences mean that there are some things that are much more real, serious and painful to them than they are to men.

Simply put, there are things you can say to guys that don’t register remotely similarly in terms of impact as they will with women. To explore that concept, here are nine things you should never say to a woman, as well as why you should think before you speak.

1. Using Gendered Slurs

Why? There’s no male equivalent to “bitch,” “slut,” “whore” or “c*nt”

As gendered insults exist for both men and women, it’s easy to draw an equivalency. You might think that “bitch” is like “bastard,” “c*nt” is like “asshole,” “whore” is like “piece of sh*t,” and so forth. In a perfect world, those terms might carry equal weight.

However, the world we live in is a world where anti-women slurs like those are often used in conjunction with serious anti-women violence. That’s not to say that everyone who calls a woman a “c*nt” will also engage in acts of physical violence toward her, or even that men who are violent towards women use such language, but simply that the two are paired up often enough to make them extra powerful.

Think about it: Have any of your guy friends ended up in the hospital because his girlfriend beat him up and called him a “bastard” when she did it? Chances are, no. On the other hand, many women know someone who’s been a victim of male abuse — an abuse that often goes hand-in-hand with abusive comments.

When you use anti-women slurs, you’re signaling your own potential dangerousness. Don’t make women live in fear. If you’re angry and want to call them names, use non-gender specific insults, or better yet, calm down and talk it out like an adult.

2. Threatening Her With Violence

Why? Many women already live in fear of male violence

Male violence against women is a widespread and deeply damaging phenomenon.

Even if you never lay a hand on a single woman, threatening to do so puts you on the side of those who do harm, rather than those who don’t. As well, threats are particularly terrifying if you or someone close to you has actually experienced real violence.

Physical threats might come off as joking, non-serious or otherwise par for the course between you and other men, but it’s a very different situation when you’re using threats of physical violence against women, who typically cannot defend themselves in a one-on-one confrontation.

Even a semi-threat like, “If you were a man, I’d punch you right now,” comes across as deeply terrifying. Don’t do that.

3. Implying She’s Not as Smart as a Man

Why? Women have had their intelligence questioned for centuries

For a lot of recorded history, men have taken the lead on thinking. That’s why our school textbooks are full of male scientists, male inventors, male philosophers, and so forth.

However, to use this evidence to conjecture that women aren’t as smart as men is to commit a serious error. For much of human history, women were expressly forbidden from pursuing the same studies their male counterparts were encouraged to pursue.

As a result, any discoveries or advancements made by women were done against the intentions of the men around them. They did not receive financial support, they did not receive emotional support and they did not receive logistical support. Had the roles been reversed, it would be men who would be absent from our textbooks, not women.

If you imply to a woman that women aren’t as smart as men, you’re participating in this long history of injustice, and revealing yourself as a pretty shallow thinker, too.

4. Engaging in Slut Shaming

Why? Women should be allowed to be as sexual as men

A man who sleeps with a lot of partners is a playboy, a stud or a Casanova. You probably don’t need to be told that a woman who sleeps with a lot of partners is not described using such positive language.

People even come up with justifications for the double standard, like, “A key that can unlock many locks is a good key, but a lock that can be opened by many keys is not a good lock” — ignoring the fact that human genitalia and anti-theft devices exist for completely different reasons with nothing in common.

A particularly dark aspect of the way we shame women for their sexual desire is something known as “victim blaming” — when we imply that a woman who is raped, assaulted or harassed is to blame for her own misfortune, rather than the person who did it to her.

The implication being, if she had been more modest (i.e. “OK, but when you’re dressed like that, what are you expecting?”), she wouldn’t have been in that situation. If your buddy went on a date and ended up being raped, you wouldn’t tell him it was his fault for being alone with a stranger drinking alcohol late at night, would you? Don’t do it to a woman.

5. Implying She Owes Her Success to Her Gender

Why? Women deal with more gender-based hurdles than men

The thinking goes that because women are sexually desirable to men, they can get things more easily — free drinks, entrance into events, promotions at work, gifts, and so on.

While there is a degree of truth to this — men sometimes do give women they’re attracted to special privileges they wouldn’t accord other men — this is not a uniquely positive dynamic. Often, these freebies come with a subtle (or not so subtle) expectation of romantic or sexual favors in return, and broadly speaking, they exist within a culture where too many men see women as potential conquests, not fellow human beings.

Ask a woman if she would trade the ability to get free drinks at a bar here and there for the promise that she wouldn’t ever be stalked on her way home, and most would give a resounding, “Yes!”

Women may have a few small things easier than men, but broadly speaking, their lives are more difficult, and to imply otherwise is both ignorant and cruel.

6. Telling Her She’s Ugly or Fat

Why? Women face immense looks-based pressure

The trope that women are looks-obsessed is not entirely without merit. However, it’s due to them being conditioned to understand that their looks are the most important quality they have by a society that prizes female beauty above any other trait.

As a result, almost all women are hyper-conscious of looks, not unlike the way almost all men are highly conscious of notions of toughness and strength.

Telling a woman that she is ugly or fat is a direct attack on one of the most vulnerable parts of her psyche. In a world where the models for beauty are endlessly made-up and photoshopped, even the most naturally beautiful women in the world cannot compete with men’s expectations of that beauty.

There is no winning this game. Don’t add to the frustration of that by complaining that she doesn’t live up to your standards, too, or subtly suggesting she “wear some makeup” or “work out more.” It’s not necessary.

7. Shaming Her About Menstruation

Why? It’s a natural part of life for almost every woman

From around the age of 12, young girls begin menstruating, typically continuing to do so once a month for the bulk of their adult lives.

Societal messaging pushes that menstrual fluid is disgusting, and that women should be ashamed of it despite the fact that it’s natural, normal and essentially universal.

If guys had periods of wet dreams that lasted one week out of every month, it would be both awkward and deeply embarrassing for most of them, for starters. Consider offering women the same respect you’d like to receive in that kind of situation, rather than saying something like “Gross, are you on your period?”

As well, it’s worth considering that this is a feature of the human body intrinsically tied to the capacity for reproduction. Meaning, if your mother, her mother,  her mother and so forth hadn’t had their periods, you would not exist. Have some respect, and be polite about menstruation.

8. Telling Her She’s Crazy

Why? Many men weaponize the concept of craziness to cast normal behavior as wrong

It’s tempting to call someone whose behavior we don’t understand “crazy.” If you get in an argument with said person, you’re absolved of any responsibility. You don’t have to win the argument, you don’t have to behave rationally, you don’t have to treat them with respect — they’re just crazy.

However, it’s an unfortunate truth that men weaponize the idea of craziness in a way that often targets women, particularly for the fact that women and men approach emotional matters very differently.

“She’s just crazy,” or “You’re behaving crazy right now, you know that?” are just particularly cruel ways of saying, “I don’t understand this reaction.” That said, just because you don’t understand someone’s emotional reaction doesn’t mean it’s not valid.

Quit telling women they’re crazy and start putting yourself in their shoes — what you learn might surprise you.

9. Belittling Her Concerns About Abuse

Why? We need to take women opening up about their trauma seriously

Recent years have seen a significant change in the way society sees sexual assault. Once-venerated men have been toppled from positions of power. It’s become normal for people who’ve been abused to open up about it.

That’s just the beginning of working towards a future where sexual abuse isn’t rampant, but it’s a start. As a man, it’s not hard to be an ally to women around these issues, but it’s also all too easy to come across as a supporter of abusers when the subject comes up.

RELATED: Here’s How to Support a Victim of Sexual Abuse

If you say things like “Don’t go all #MeToo on me,” you’re making light of an incredibly serious subject. Rape and assault are deeply traumatic events that can mark the rest of a person’s life. Treat them with the seriousness that they deserve.

Victims of abuse deserve support, no matter what their gender is. Committing to treating these crimes like crimes and not like a frivolous annoyance that’s become common outs you as someone who’d rather maintain the status quo than live in a more just world.

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