We do weird things when we're waiting for a text message back from a crush: obsessively unlock and lock our phones, become hyper-aware of the passage of time, and question every single interaction we've had with the recipient. It can be pure psychological torture, and cause even the calmest people to lose all semblance of chill.
Texting is imbued with uncertainty, which is why it's such a complicated form of communication, says Bree McEwan, PhD, assistant professor at DePaul University, who studies the way we manage and maintain social relationships through technology. "Waiting for a text return can make us nervous," she says, because texting etiquette isn't universal. In other words, everyone has a different texting style, including how long they wait to reply to something.
But, ultimately, the world isn't going to end if you don't get a text message back — and hanging everything on that quick reply isn't great for you or your partner. "Couples that feel the need to be in contact with each other all the time via text may have less satisfying relationships," Dr. McEwan says. In fact, sending texts that imply the recipient needs to answer immediately (or at all) can be viewed as controlling or even abusive.
The good news is, experts say that the nerves and anxiety aren't necessarily irrational. There are a few very good reasons why waiting for a quick reply from your crush makes you feel as antsy as you do scrolling and re-scrolling through Instagram, waiting for photos of Beyoncé's twins to surface. These insights won't necessarily solve the fact that waiting for texts sucks, but knowing a little bit about why you're feeling the way you are might help you ride out your time in purgatory before your phone buzzes again. Here's why waiting for a text back from a potential romantic partner is the worst.