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Experts think you need to do this one thing to reduce anxiety while dating

Posted by
Emily Reynolds
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read receipts phone man

Always good, isn’t it, when you message someone and they just… never reply to you. Putting your hopes/dreams/rushed plans for Sunday brunch on the line, only to be comprehensively ghosted: truly the greatest feeling in the world.  

EVEN BETTER? When someone never replies to you and, because of read receipts, you can pinpoint the exact moment they read your message and decided to never reply to you.  And according to one dating expert, Madeleine Mason, this means we should *never* have them on. 

Talking to The Independent, psychologist Mason said that read receipts can increase anxiety and insecurity. “If you have a tendency to overthink things and get mini panics over seeing someone having read your message and not replying, then I would suggest turning the function off completely,” she said. 

If you’ve ever been rejected before, she says, a non-reply can “trigger a psychological response” like panic – particularly if you have problems with self-esteem or confidence. 

And dating coach James Preech agreed, saying that read receipts “give rise to a number of problems in relationships”, accentuating clashing communication styles.

“One person might assume that by purposefully not replying, you are hiding something or keeping secrets,” he said. “The more you do it then the worse it will get; they can’t understand why you aren’t making them a priority by replying.”

They’re not the first experts to express scepticism about read receipts. In 2016, psychology Lisa Brateman told Broadly that read receipts force recipients to “try to figure out exactly what’s going on” – and if you are ignored, you “start to assume they’re doing it purposefully”.

“You start to make up a whole story of it,” she said. “If this person waits too long, what does it mean about the relationship? What does it mean about me?”. 

And science – actual real science! – seems to agree. A survey from the University of Copenhagen found that read receipts spark anxiety for senders, with respondents saying that a blue tick or opened message symbol created “social anxiety, speculation and fear”. Receivers also feel stressed out by them, reporting that they felt “overwhelmed and stressed out by the social commitments they form”. 

But! Some good news! Sort of! Turns out you can avoid read receipts pretty easily. The study said that “respondent across the board” had developed strategies to avoid showing they had read messages, including marking messages and “reading snippets on the lock screen in order to pretend that they hadn’t seen it”. 82% of respondents avoided opening messages to get out of someone knowing they’d read their messages. 

We also “speculate, interpret and imagine what’s going on at the other end” if someone doesn’t have their read receipts on – so, in short, you can never win and perpetually trapped in a cycle of anxiety, fear and insecurity. Yay! 

(Image: Pexels)