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Image / Editorial

WhatsApps, texts and emails: Are you an instant replier or do you wait for days?

by Louise Bruton
15th Aug 2019

Angry woman disappointed with the news via text message


Angry woman disappointed with the news via text message

Do you have 1,022 unopened emails? Do you reply to text messages and Whatsapps straight away? Or are you just not that efficient?

Waiting for a reply from a text is something that can drive you half-demented. No matter where you are – in work, on a night out, in the cinema – the lack of reply causes you to chronically check your phone, opening up different apps just to check if the WiFi network you’re using is acting up. Even if you’re annoyed with someone, you will read the text as soon as it comes in but you’ll set an imaginary timer for 20 minutes to reply, so that they know you’re vexed with them.

They won’t know, though, because they don’t think like that.

Work emails

Welcome to the mind of someone who replies to texts. Instantly. I am a hit-sender. And not just for text messages, but work emails too. Every single email in my inbox is marked as “read”, so when I see 27,698 unread emails in my friends’ inboxes, I feel woozy. I’ve offered to declutter their accounts, an offer they never take up. I pride myself so much on efficiency that when one of my colleagues sends me a sign off email for the year, wishing me a happy Christmas, he also thanks me for my efficiency.

“Some people only reply if there’s a question with an actual question mark in the text.”

Efficiency is bae but I know now that not everyone has the same sentiment. 

Asking people on Twitter, the hit-senders and the slow-responders have valid reasons for replying the way that they do. Some people only reply if there’s a question with an actual question mark in the text. Some people can read a text and put their phone aside until they work up a good response. This can take hours, days or weeks.  Some people find the pressure of responding too much so they don’t reply. In the eyes of a hit-sender, this feels like rejection when it’s nothing of the sort. 

In many ways, the way that phones and messaging apps are designed encourages us to stay emotionally focused on our screens. Knowing that phones are mostly kept on silent, we can send a message in the dead of night or when someone is in a work meeting.

So if you’re staring at your phone, willing it to do something,  just relax. Learning the texting habits of pals and, wait for it, lovers is vital in preventing yourself from going insane. 

Now that phone charges aren’t as hefty as they once were, there’s no (monetary) cost in texting someone once, twice or a million times. But maybe you should consider stopping at three texts if the replies don’t come through.  If someone is typing, we watch that ellipsis move until the message lands or never comes at all.

The “read” status of a message can create an air of paranoia that this person doesn’t want to speak to us at all, when really they might have their own hang-ups about replying.  

So if you’re waiting on a reply, remember that your value doesn’t equate to how quickly they hit send.

And here’s what my sources had to say about it:

“I used to be shite at replying and now I am an embarrassingly quick responder – because I know if I don’t it’ll languish for days. This makes appearing aloof and cool UN-POSS-IBLE. Beforehand, I’d have easily forgotten entirely and realise two weeks later I’d never gone back to someone. But, essentially, if it’s not responded to as soon as I see it, it may not happen at all.”

“I used to be an instant replier but now I take a few days to reply to texts. I think it’s because I’m at a point in my life where I don’t feel so pressured by the need to reply to absolutely everyone and I don’t want my texting habits interrupting my day. There’s also the anxiety of replying to something straight away and the psychological warfare of the whole ‘am I coming across desperate or just efficient at communicating?’. This is for every form of communication, be it with friends or for business-y things. I kinda find that the people who take aaaages to reply are the ones that mean the most to me  but their response time could be seemingly longer due to my fixation in receiving their reply. Haha.”


“My friend is never the first person to text. She is really lovely and accomplished but has some low self-esteem. It’s mad but she is afraid that if she texts first, she won’t get a reply.  I used to be annoyed by this, that it could go weeks without hearing from her, but then I just accepted that’s how she is. She has a very young baby so I make an effort to text her every day to say ‘hey’ and she always texts back very quickly.  She doesn’t reach out unless prompted but when prompted she does. I want to wrap her up and say just bloody text me you eejit!”


“It depends on the person who sent the text and the context. If it’s urgent, or urgent sounding, then the response is immediate. If it’s  a family member wondering if we can do dinner in a few months then not so much.” 


“I had an ex who would get a bit aggro if they saw that I saw their message on WhatsApp but didn’t reply ASAP. I had a pretty intense job, so I’d text on my lunch or on my way home. He knew this and yet was still aggro. Eventually I copped that you can turn off the blue tick thing on WhatsApp – the seen/read thing – and it was great. He, of course, hated it but I felt a gazillion times better. I stayed with him for nearly eights years. He sounds like an asshole, and, in some ways, he was but in others he wasn’t. Although that behaviour was not cool. Girl, what were you doing…?”


“I regard texts much as other people do letters: to be answered in my own time. This tends not to go down well.”


“My fave sort of texting is intermittent texts during the day while we’re at work and then an hour or two of solid texting in the evening when in front of the TV or in bed or whatever. But oftentimes that doesn’t work out, so I’ll probably leave it a few hours before replying, sometimes leaving them on read in the interim, keep em on their toes. 

“But that just wrecks my head a bit cos it’s so obvious what we’re doing. Overall, I feel like I’m a bit too old for texting games though so I’m not delaying the reply to play it cool, more so because I’d get nothing done if I was texting some fuckboy 24/7. I think with WhatsApp there’s nearly an expectation that texts are regular because it’s so free and easy? Like there wouldn’t be the same pressure to reply if we were still paying 11c per text and we’d just meet up more instead.

“I might suggest that Bumble adds texting habits  to their Key Info section alongside “what are you looking for” and ‘do you have kids/smoke weed/go to the gym?'”

“If I have the fear after a night out, I could leave the messages unopened for days or just not open it at all. I currently have four unopened Whatsapp from months ago. If I don’t read them, it didn’t happen.”

Mary Kate
“Well, I like to read a text and then maybe write back later. I HATE the stress of the idea that someone thinks I’m purposefully leaving them on ‘two blue ticks’. Like, I don’t have the administrative organisation skills for that.”

“I can sometimes be the slow replier. This can be because I’ve a friend who messages me just too often for a reply on the spot. I know if I did, the frequency would increase. I don’t usually shy away from conflict but I think it would be too hard to bring this up without it being taken the wrong way. I feel read receipts put a real pressure on us to respond immediately, which I dislike.” 

“I find texting quite exhausting and actually prefer phone calls but, through necessity, a lot of my communication happens by text. Since I find it exhausting, what I really fear  – and it genuinely gives me serious anxiety – is when I get like a massive pile-up of texts from loads of different people. So when I’m well and in a period of good moods, I try my hardest to be very responsive so I don’t end up with a scary full inbox.

“There’s a Catch-22 about this strategy though, which is that being responsive attracts more and more messages from more people. That tends to lead me to the other pole of my cycle of responsiveness, which can  coincide with my lower moods, where my inboxes are big pile ups – or at least feel that way to me – and that gives me the fear. Then I continuously avoid it for a number of days. At one point last summer, it reached a few weeks but I vowed never to let it get that bad again as it caused me to mess up and miss out on a number of work opportunities I was offered. It feels like a massive extra trigger of anxiety for me, which I have to deal with very consciously to try and keep the cycle in some kind of healthy balance.”

“I’m definitely, someone who texts back right away. Even if I think I’m being uncool, I don’t like the feeling of being rude.”

If I see it, I respond. That’s just who I am. A quick responder as my phone is never far. And I hate waiting on a reply. I hate that I hate waiting on replies!

I have to assume that the type of people who don’t text back immediately aren’t on Twitter.

I’m a tad obsessive with replying to messages. I’ve been known to pull in whilst driving to reply to one. A notification light flashing will have my eye nerve twitching within minutes if unattended to. The other equally unhelpful side of that coin means I can be as tedious with people replying. I’ll nigh demand a doctor’s cert or a death notice for a pass to be issued. Yeah… I’m THAT twat. I’m far too quick to take it as a slight or a show of disrespect.

“I’ll fill the subsequent vacuum with all sorts of fume-fuelled conspiracy theories before I get a cheery reply and then the hounds of loath are called back. I’m not entirely proud of my carry on but that said there’s nowt wrong with being a bit of a stickler for etiquette. People play a little loose these days maybe and often it’s just a simple case of good manners.

For a long time I use to be the type that responded immediately but with that comes expectation, especially from family. Now I reply when I’m ready to. It took people in my life time to accept that it really is up to me to reply when I want.

I can answer questions but I might not get back to you for a while for  very good/absolutely non-existent reasons. I think it’s a tendency to overthink things. I  et things lapse then get intimidated by the fact I haven’t responded yet, which puts me off responding at all. So interactions with no expectations are easy  – I’m doing it here see?!?! – but, for instance, I’ve been thinking about how to respond to my brother for, like, three weeks.

“I’ll play it off as cute but it’s genuinely isolating.  Understandably, people feel like I don’t give a shit because I’m not showing I do when really I’m just lost in my head. I think people who know me know I’ve severe tunnel vision, so whatever/whoever is in front of me gets 100% attention to the detriment of everything and everyone else. Luckily, I’ve got a lot of friends who are similarly inclined, so we can not be in touch for a year, then meet up and have a six-hour chat where we solve the world and never mention how shit we are with contact.

Read more: Is lockerroom talk harmless?

Read more: Things I’ve learned from women I follow on Twitter

Read more: Why trolls need to stop hiding behind ‘just my opinion’ excuses

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