The *real* reason you feel the need to constantly text your other half (2024)

You know the feeling you get when your crush finally texts you back after days of going dark? The butterflies in your stomach, that roller-coaster-of-emotions-gripping anxiety can make you, well, a little...cuckoo.

When someone you're interested in doesn’t show up or communicate with you consistently, it can trigger all sorts of old childhood emotions and feelings that trace back to your relationship with your OG caregivers. I present you: attachment theory.

Understanding the push and pull of the dating world is made a million times easier once you understand how you relate or "attach" to others, says Sabrina Romanoff, PsyD, a clinical psychologist, and writer.

"Attachment styles set the rules for how we relate to others, what situations are most threatening, and our most fundamental way to establish safety," says Romanoff. "The fears that arise from each style will likely lead to ineffective or unhelpful behaviors."

These "unhelpful" behaviors can manifest in a million different ways. Maybe you’re texting a crush a million times a day hoping for validation that they like you as much as you like them, or just simply torturing yourself with anxious thoughts. Understanding this psychology is crucial, especially when it comes to dating—where it tends to be activated most often, says Lisa Marie Bobby, PhD, psychologist, and the host of the Love, Happiness, and Success podcast.

But don’t diagnose yourself with a certain attachment style too quickly, Bobby warns.

"There is a pursue and withdraw cycle in every relationship," explains Bobby. "Even if you grew up in a 'perfect' family and had a 'perfect' childhood, which we know doesn’t exist, you can display different expressions of attachment." Meaning, most people display characteristics of all of the different attachment styles depending on where they are in their lives and who they are dating.

If your dating life hasn't gone *exactly* how you imagined over the years, don't get down on yourself. There are lots of factors at work. Your attachment style plays a key role in determining the health of your relationships, and well... some are healthier than others.

While you might have gotten this far living in not-so-blissful ignorance, understanding your attachment style can improve your existing relationships (including non-romantic ones) or ward off future heartbreak by helping you identify what’s going wrong and how to change for the better.

First things first: What is attachment theory?

In the 1960s, psychiatrist John Bowlby formulated attachment theory after studying how infants reacted when separated from their primary caregivers (usually their mothers). He then classified their behaviors by assigning each an attachment style, meaning a pattern in the way a person relates to others.

From his research, Bowlby highlighted the significance of the parent-child dynamic and determined four predominant attachment styles—secure, anxious, avoidant, and fearful avoidant—that went on to impact adult relationships.

How are attachment styles formed?

Attachment styles are primarily formed in childhood, with your primary caregivers. If that person showed up for you consistently, both physically and emotionally, you theoretically would have a secure attachment style.

When children group up in an environment that doesn’t allow them to trust the people caring for them, whether that is because of abuse, mental illness, or any other myriad reasons, it can lead to trouble in future relationships, says Bobby.

"If you grew up with those inconsistencies, creating partnerships and emotional connections in adulthood can be very confusing," she says.

Wondering if your feelings about your partner will change over time? Here's how to tell:

The *real* reason you feel the need to constantly text your other half (1)

Traumatic dating relationships can also lead to attachment problems, she adds: "If you’re someone who has been burned a lot, you start to lose your trust in romantic partners."

Secure Attachment

    In childhood: A child who grows up having a secure attachment with their parent/caregiver generally feels content, safe, and explorative.

    They behave this way because they trust their needs will be met by their caregiver who is readily available and consistent in their responses towards them. Simply put, a securely attached child "is confident when their caregiver leaves and happy when they return," says Melissa Schacter, DMFT, a licensed psychotherapist in South Florida.

    In adult relationships: If you have a secure attachment style, you tend to be more satisfied in your relationships because you feel connected to your partner, while still enjoying the freedom to pursue your own interests and friendships.

    A securely attached person isn’t jealous or possessive because they have confidence in themselves and in their relationship, so they don't feel the need to constantly check in on their significant other. When two secure people get together, that's basically a match made in attachment-style heaven, according to Schacter, because striking a balance between intimacy and independence is vital in a healthy relationship.

    This is basically the relationship dynamic we all strive for, says Bobby.

    Anxious Attachment

    In childhood: This attachment style is synonymous with a child who’s emotionally distant and reluctant to discover his or her surroundings. Their caregiver is disengaged and often fails to provide them with the attention they require. Consequently, the child subconsciously believes they will be let down by their caregiver.

    "In children, it manifests through clinging to caregivers or parents," says Romanoff. "When their parents do leave or when they face a separation, these kids will become devastated and struggle to self-soothe independently."

    In adult relationships: Anxiously attached adults are emotionally starved and desperate for an unrealistic type of closeness. "Anxiously attached people are hungry for connection and will also be apprehensive of its reliability," says Romanoff.

    If you find yourself texting or calling someone regularly for reassurance that they are still into you, this could be a sign of having anxious attachment tendencies, says Romanoff.

    If you have an anxious attachment style, you likely expect your partner to "complete" you. Your desire to feel secure can overwhelm your partner, and consequently, they may pull away. Their distant response only confirms your anxiously attached feelings of insecurity (fun!), so the cycle continues, says Schacter.

    Jealousy and possessiveness are typically attributed to anxiously attached people. So, you often feel threatened when your partner spends time with friends or does anything without you. In the worst possible cases, Schacter says physical and/or emotional abuse can arise in such relationships because one person is trying to control the other.

    Avoidant Attachment

    In childhood: A child develops an avoidant or dismissive attachment style when their caregiver is neglectful, inconsistent, and unresponsive to a child’s emotional needs, says Romanoff. In time, the child loses trust in them and decides to completely detach.

    Avoidant people are highly independent from a young age because experience has taught them the only people they can fully rely on are themselves. "To cope, the child will suppress and neglect their own needs to preserve the relationship with caregivers and to not threaten their relationship with them," Romanoff adds. And, in return, "the parents will downplay or disregard their kid’s needs."

    A classic example would be a parent punishing a crying child, rather than soothing them, says Romanoff. This may lead to children who are anxious, withdraw physically and emotionally, and have a very difficult time asking for help.

    In adult relationships: If you're a person with an avoidant attachment style, you generally don't like it when others depend on you and don't want to depend on others. Your quest for independence can often be construed as an attempt to avoid attachment altogether. It often means you're uncomfortable with intimacy and displays off affection.

    "For avoidant adults, being independent is more important than being dependent on a partner," says Romanoff. "When stressed, these people will withdraw from their partner and isolate themselves."

    In Schacter's experience, partners of avoidant people frequently complain about a lack of intimacy and a close connection. If this sounds like you, you probably have a hard time trusting anyone, which makes it hard for you to open up and relate to others.

    Fearful Avoidant Attachment

    In childhood: Children can develop this attachment style when a caregiver shames them for showing an emotional need. Think back to when you were a kid. If every time you cried your parents told you you were a baby, or to grow up, this style may impact you, says Romanoff.

    "[This] encourages kids to display a developmentally inappropriate level of independence," she says. Internally, though, kids with this style tend to experience extreme anxiety and distress though appearing calm on the surface.

    In adult relationships: If you’re in a relationship with someone who is a chronic caretaker or who seems all cool, calm, and collected until they are very much NOT...this could be an instance of a fearful-avoidant type.

    "When they are emotionally disregulated or overwhelmed, they will avoid reaching out for help due to their distrust of others," says Romanoff. "Ultimately, they avoid intimacy because they are afraid others will only hurt them."

    Why is it important to identify your attachment style?

    Schacter uses the principles of attachment theory with her patients, regardless of whether they’re single or booed up. Never been in a romantic relationship? No problem. She suggests looking at your friendships for insight into your attachment style and to use that information to avoid problems later in your love life.

    If you have a secure attachment style, you're probably not worried about how it affects your relationship. But even if you're anxious or avoidant, the good news is that you're not stuck with the attachment style you formed as a child.

    "It can change and develop," Schacter explains. "And you can work on it through self-awareness, education, and therapy." In her practice, Schacter relies on the main attachment styles to work with her clients. Still, she says none are as black or white as they seem because psychology is full of grey areas.

    Can you change your attachment style?

    When counselling couples, Schacter helps them identify their attachment style(s) so they can improve their communication and respond to one another in a more sensitive manner.

    For example, when an anxiously attached person is fighting with their partner about unanswered texts, the other person can speak to what’s really going on and say: "I know you might be feeling a little fearful or anxious that I didn’t call you, but I want to remind you that I love you." This addresses the underlying issue, rather than getting lost in irrelevant details.

    Plus, your attachment style can change as you get to know your partner better, explains Schacter. "There’s normal developmental stuff in a relationship, and your attachment style can vary depending on your life stage and/or whom you’re with," she says. In a new relationship, for instance, it’s normal to have some anxious attachment initially because you don’t know each other. Ideally, that will change into secure attachment as your relationship becomes more solid over time.

    Even if it's not that simple, what’s ultimately important is knowing that, with the right motivation and support, you can always develop a healthy attachment style.

    More resources for happy and healthy relationships...

    • 20 gaslighting examples to get familiar with
    • Finding it hard to let go of your toxic ex? You might be trauma bonded
    • Is your partner guilty of weaponised incompetence?

    Cut through the noise and get practical, expert advice, home workouts, easy nutrition and more direct to your inbox. Sign up to the WOMEN'S HEALTH NEWSLETTER

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    The *real* reason you feel the need to constantly text your other half (3)

    Jacqueline Tempera

    Jacqueline Tempera is an award-winning writer and reporter living in New Jersey with her many pets. She is a business owner and a double Scorpio who loves all things astrology and reality television. She is passionate about body diversity and representation, mental health, and the fight to end sexual assault and harassment. To learn more about Jackie, follow her on Instagram @jacktemp or visit her website at jackietempera.com.

    The *real* reason you feel the need to constantly text your other half (2024)

    FAQs

    The *real* reason you feel the need to constantly text your other half? ›

    If you find yourself texting or calling someone regularly for reassurance that they are still into you, this could be a sign of having anxious attachment tendencies, says Romanoff. If you have an anxious attachment style, you likely expect your partner to "complete" you.

    Why do I feel the need to text someone? ›

    There could be any number of reasons why you want to text them. It's okay that you're feeling lonely or bored, unsettled or confused, lost or isolated. You're an adult now, you're going to be experiencing ups and downs with these types of emotions your entire life.

    Is it bad to constantly text your partner? ›

    Too many texts may become irritating and your partner might feel bad about not being able to get back to you. Talk about response times. Settle on an acceptable response time to a text. But also talk about different scenarios that may keep one another from answering a text right away.

    How long should a textationship last? ›

    Usually, after a week or so of texting, you'll then meet up or it'll fizzle out before you even get to see one another. But a long-term textationship could potentially go on for months, if not years without meeting up or even chatting on the phone. But does that mean it's “not that deep”? Well, not necessarily.

    Is it normal to want to text everyday? ›

    The answer depends on several factors, namely your communication style and that which you'd like to maintain in a relationship. “Some people like to keep in constant contact and basically chat all day,” says dating psychologist Dr Madeleine Mason Roantree. “Others hate texting and prefer to meet in person.”

    What is dry texting? ›

    As a phrase, “dry texting” is relatively recent in the grand scheme of things. It refers to people who reply with one word, or don't carry the conversation and just say things like “lmao” and “wyd” until the receiver wants to tear their hair out in frustration or boredom.

    Can texting everyday ruin a relationship? ›

    Excessive texting—especially when it involves demanding to know where someone is, who they are with, and what they are doing—can even be controlling and abusive. If you're in a relationship with someone who texts excessively or aggressively, you may want to distance yourself from them.

    Is constant texting toxic? ›

    Sometimes people are unaware of what they're doing. If they're texting you constantly on purpose and it feels controlling or harassing, this is not healthy.

    What is sleep texting? ›

    Sleep texting is using your phone to send or reply to a message while asleep. Though it might sound improbable, it can happen. In most cases, sleep texting is prompted. In other words, it's more likely to happen when you receive an incoming message.

    Is textationship a relationship? ›

    While a 'textationship' is a relationship where two people communicate primarily through text messages. The people involved in a textationship communicate frequently through text messages, but they may not necessarily have met in person or are willing to meet anytime soon.

    How often should lovers text? ›

    Text serious partners at least once a day. Many people in established relationships like to send a few texts back and forth as they go about their day. Text people you're casually dating a few times a week.

    What is benching in relationships? ›

    "Benching" is when someone keeps you as a back-up in dating because that person is interested in someone else. Being benched doesn't feel good and can waste your time. A person may be benching you if they show limited availability, inconsistency, or one-sided interactions.

    Do guys get attached through texting? ›

    A lot of studies have shown that texting is a great way to start a romance, especially because of how convenient it is and that it doesn't make the people involved feel the ‌a*wkwardness that comes with meeting in person. So, yes, it is possible for a man to fall in love over text.

    Is constant texting healthy? ›

    Constant communication through texts and videos poses health risks. Frequent texting can contribute to persistent depressive moods, anxiety, and other health issues.

    Should FWB text every day? ›

    As a general rule, maintain emotional distance from your friend with benefits. Talking often can increase intimacy, which may compromise the relationship. If your FWB is talking to you every day, it could mean they are falling for you, that they want to be better friends, or that they want to string you along.

    What are the texting habits of ADHD? ›

    forgetting about information from previous texts. sending incomplete messages. sending multiple messages in a short space of time. impulsive texting, which could involve flirtatious texts, inappropriate questions, or changing topics.

    Is texting too much needy? ›

    Excessive Texting

    For instance, texting non-stop could indicate that one partner is clingy and needy or that they are feeling insecure in the relationship. While this is harmful to the person doing the excessive texting, it can also be smothering to the person on the receiving end.

    Why are we addicted to texting? ›

    Your brain is seeking a reward

    Texting can be this type of trigger, and it's the easiest one most people have, so they're chemically wired to keep engaging with the phone. Evolutionarily, dopamine was very helpful. It promoted activities that helped people survive.

    Why do introverts prefer texting? ›

    Introverts are easy with chatting because they get enough time while chatting to say what they want. Moreover, over calling you've to be quick while answering. Also chatting gives you a hiding place which introverts really like and feel comfortable with and calling lacks that.

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