Do I Text Too Much, or Are They Being Avoidant?
How to tell if you’re overdoing it.
In a secure relationship, security is defined like this: my partner’s needs matter as much as my own — not more than my own, not less than my own, but as much as my own.
Generally, when we are anxiously attached, we don’t know how to hold on to the uncertainty that new dating brings. We think about the partner’s needs more than our own. Instead of sitting in the uncertainty, we often over-text and over-pursue, trying to soothe our anxiety by reaching out, hoping that the bid for connection gets met or reciprocated. To get rid of the energy we don’t know how to hold, we leave ourselves and try to fill the space. But get this: that space is actually necessary for attraction and in creating a healthy relationship.
Look, this is all totally normal. If you’re reading this and thinking, “yep, that’s me,” or you’re the person on the other side of it, going, “yeah, they can be a lot,” then that recognition is the first step to changing it. You can change your attachment style. Thankfully, it’s not permanent. We go into all the different styles in my Dating 101 course, mapping out how to navigate them while dating, and how to heal in the process.
Healing your attachment style is an ongoing journey because it’s often triggered by outside experiences. If you’re dating someone who is avoidant, your anxious attachment style is gonna get triggered. If you’re secure and dating someone with an anxious attachment style, then you could veer into avoidant tendencies. So it starts with awareness. What am I feeling right now? What attachment styles have I exhibited in the past? What were the attachment styles of my former partners, and what kind of reaction did that prompt in me?
Then, we move to what we do with the feelings — the actions we want to take. So if we’re with someone who has an anxious attachment style or certain anxious tendencies, how does that influence our actions? We can check in with ourselves and ask, “Am I sending this message because I want to, or because my previous partners with anxious attachment always wanted me to message them back ASAP and if I didn’t, it created a big ole mess?”
At any time, we can check in with ourselves and ask: “Am I doing this because I genuinely want to? Would I do this if I felt securely attached? Is this coming from a place of secure attachment? Or is this coming from insecurity, and am I doing this because I don’t feel like I am ‘enough’?”
Part of this process is learning how to hold on in places where you would normally self-abandon. There can be a fine line between self-abandonment or over-pursuing, and unconditional love. An anxiously attached person might argue that they just unapologetically and unconditionally give love. And yes, that’s awesome, and/but the energetics of over-pursuing are different from unconditional love. Unconditional love says I choose you even if you don’t choose me. Over-pursuing is wanting validation or attention or love from someone else, often at the expense of oneself and one’s needs.
We need to learn to dance in the space of uncertainty. You have to leave space for people to come towards you. Otherwise, you risk creating a codependent dynamic.
If you’re seeing someone and feeling those anxious tendencies creeping in, allow yourself to reach out and then give it some space. So if you’re texting, for instance, send one message and leave it at that. In an anxiously attached mind, we can become overly concerned with meeting the other person’s needs first. In our rush to compose the perfect message we often forget to sit back and listen or pay attention to the response, or to how we feel in the meantime. Are we anxious? Avoidant? Are they responsive? Are they following through and making plans? Dating is all about figuring out whether this person is right for you (versus am I right for them?), so let yourself observe whether they’re treating you how you want to be treated, and what comes up for you in the meantime.
Boundaries are not just about protecting ourselves from the actions of others, they’re also about containing ourselves. Learn how to sit in the magic of uncertainty, which is where chemistry is born. Collapsing and losing ourselves in over-pursuit tends to reinforce a false belief that we’re unloveable or “too much.” If you leave a space for secure people to show up, the right person can find you.