I Stopped Texting First and Here's What Happened

We’ve all been there.

You don’t realize you’re giving so much of yourself to someone who doesn’t reciprocate any of it until you’re standing right next to them feeling unheard, dismissed, ignored.

If you’re like me, you’ve spent a fair amount of time panicking, looking for a way out of these situations. I’ve spent more nights than I’d like to count convincing people I care about that it might be time to let go of a relationship like this, because when I got fed up with mine a year ago, I decided to do something about it.

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I lounged on the couch, my fingers absentmindedly typing out a standard “please pay attention to me” text, when it finally clicked that this was part of my morning routine. Scrolling slowly up the screen, I realized each and every conversation began with a little blue text-bubble-- always from me. So, I hit delete until the words I’d just typed were gone.

Right then, things started to make sense. One word answers, cancelled plans, being ignored-- I wanted to test it. Between mountains of schoolwork, internships, new roommates, old drama, and the plague that hits campus every winter, I was not here for fake friends.

After one too many days spent wondering how many one-sided friendships I’d been keeping afloat, I hatched myself a plan and channelled my inner ghost. I think I’ll let everyone text ME first today… I thought to myself. No more initiating. If they actually want to talk to me, they will.

Was it petty? Maybe. Did it work? Absolutely.

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That afternoon, I got a couple “What are you up to?” messages, customary updates about the latest gossip, and from several friends, radio silence. On day two came the first “Just checking in” text, so at least my absence had been noticed in one case. I knew I’d just become an attention-seeker, but I maintained that if anyone wanted to take advantage of me pulling my friendship, they were more than welcome to. I’d rather be with the ones who make me feel good about myself, thank you very much.

Four days into this new policy of mine, not reaching out to the last couple of missing people took a surprising amount of effort. No classes together, no overlapping schedules, and nothing linking us besides a phone screen meant that I missed them. But I thought about who I’d really been interacting with in this short amount of time, and it dulled the blow just enough to make me want to see this thing through a little longer.

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About a month later, my phone buzzed in a crowded and noisy lecture hall. One of my ghosts had returned, trying to pick up a casual conversation as if we’d never stopped the last one. For a long moment I stared at the screen, surprised, before sending off a half-hearted response.


He told me we hadn’t talked or seen each other for a long time. As if I didn’t know that.


He offered a vague suggestion to hang out soon, asked how I was doing, if everything was okay. I sighed to myself, hastily consenting to plans and not reluctant to shove my phone back into my pocket as the professor entered and class started.

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I had become totally comfortable with the fact that I only want to be with friends who want to be with me. That seems like the least we deserve; to spend our time where it’s valued and not on one-sided friendships and relationships that just drain our energy. Letting go when it’s time can hurt, but it’s liberating and healthy and will keep your spirits high in the sky where they belong.

So, I hung out with the guy.  It was okay, but that was all, because I knew where I stood and I didn't regret it. This little experiment taught me about what I value in my relationships with others, and the honest truth is that I recommend it to everyone. At the end of it, you’ll know, and the rest is up to you.