Avoiding an Inner Tantrum

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This conversation was observed recently: a man looked at his phone, then sighed loudly. “I can’t believe I haven’t gotten a response yet,” he complained to his companion. “I texted her ten minutes ago.”

“Maybe she’s in another room and hasn’t read it yet,” offered the companion.

The man scoffed. “What is this, the eighteenth century? But no, she’s read it, the phone tells me that it was seen. The question wasn’t that difficult. I can’t believe she’d just ignore me. She does this all the time, too. In fact, last time -” He cut off in mid-sentence as his phone chimed. “There!” he exclaimed. “She says she was in her car and couldn’t text while driving.” He and his companion were silent. Finally, the man spoke. “At least she had a good reason,” he said.

If you think the man was being bratty and boorish, you’re not alone. However, we’re all guilty of a little of that behavior, especially when it comes to waiting for responses to first-contact emails. When we send off a message - particularly to someone we’re interested in - it’s not uncommon to sit there, drumming our metaphorical (or literal) fingers, hoping we’ll get an answer immediately.

When we don’t get an immediate response, our thoughts would probably be embarrassing if we spoke them aloud. “Why haven’t I heard anything yet? It’s already the evening! Everyone’s off work now!” “It’s been several hours already!” We can get anxious, cranky, even angry before the sun has set. Children are often expected to have more self-control.

When that poor woman texted the man back with a perfectly legitimate excuse, I was actually disappointed - because she didn’t owe the man an explanation. When it comes to social matters, no one should be tied to their phone or email, forced to respond immediately. If the woman was busy knitting, watching a TV show or just didn’t feel like interacting with other humans, those reasons ought to be equally “good.”

So remember that when you’re waiting for a response to a dating query, particularly on sites that let you know if your message has been seen or the person has logged in. We have no idea about the life of the person we’ve contacted; we don’t know their schedule. Maybe they’re tired at the end of the day. Maybe they want to wait until they’re in a good mood before they respond. Maybe they want time to construct just the right response. Whatever the reason, it’s theirs and it’s legitimate; though we may be impatient, we have self-control and can surely wait without a childish meltdown.