As someone who has never sent a long text I didn’t regret, I was shocked to meet Gin, a 34-year-old from Atlanta who sends large blocks and doesn’t think twice about it. In fact, her text messages are so long that one time her friend pulled out a dictionary, flipped to a random page full of words and compared it to texting with Gin.
Knowing laughter, as she’s well aware of her verbose approach. Her Twitter bio even discloses that she’s a “plethora of unsolicited thoughts (some more valuable than others) and consistent back-to-back paragraph texts daily with no shame.”
“I just don’t know a short way to get to my point, and usually add a minimum of 10 unnecessary details,” Gin tells me. “My usual long text style isn’t just reserved for my boyfriend. Because writing is my most comfortable form of communication, I’ve definitely used it to express emotion in all of my relationships.”
Still, the typical author of a long text is often a disgruntled romantic partner, like Nicole, a 21-year-old in New Jersey. She sends meticulously crafted paragraphs that she edits in her notes first before copying and pasting the perfect manifesto to guys who have strung her along. “I’m rarely vulnerable, so it’s just a long freakin’ novel of my entire feelings and things that bother me that I’ve been holding in for months,” she tells me.
That said, by the time she sends these messages, Nicole knows on some level that the relationship is already over; otherwise, she wouldn’t send them. “It’s usually me wasting my paragraphs on some sort of failed stupid relationship,” she admits.
Gin and Nicole may send long texts for different reasons, but they both know their communication style is as unpopular as it is inefficient. Ever since the acronym TL;DR emerged in 2003, it’s been implicitly understood that long texts are shorthand for being vaguely unhinged. This has only been further reinforced by internet culture, including the most recent “I ain’t reading all that” screenshot meme.
Still, for Gin and Nicole, the risk of seeming extra outweighs the risk of not making their point — and thus, they’re always sure to hurl all of their feelings into the digital abyss. According to therapist Alisha Powell, the impulse to send a long text is fairly common in people who are afraid of being rejected and misunderstood. “Some people struggle with expressing themselves verbally, and it can be easier to share their thoughts in a way where they can erase and edit them,” Powell explains.
Of course, many important non-verbal signals from face-to-face conversations and other social cues from phone calls are lost in texting, but that’s not the only issue with firing off paragraph after paragraph after paragraph. With that many sentences, people are bound to make whatever point they’re trying to make, so it’s not about a lack of clarity. The problem is on the receiving end — getting a seemingly never-ending stream of loaded words in quick succession makes most recipients too defensive and reactive to inspire a productive conversation.
“Receiving a long text can be anxiety-producing but also a bit jarring,” Powell warns, adding that this can snowball into further arguments, or worse, silence because “when you receive a long text out the blue, it’s best to not initially respond because you’re more likely to respond out of emotion.”
Regardless, it almost always leads to more stress for the sender than they started with, which is why Powell recommends using that sense of urgency to draft an outline for a future conversation instead. An outline over a verbatim script will ensure key points aren’t lost while also not spiraling into a draft of a long text that will inevitably be sent in a moment of weakness.
In some rare instances, Powell concedes, “sending a long text message can be a good way to get closure because you’re expressing how you feel.” But she says this comes with the caveat that it needs to be “sent with the expectation that you may not get a response back or you may receive a response that you don’t like.”
For Nicole, the last long text she sent felt like ripping off a necessary Band-Aid to end a drawn-out fling. The guy responded and confirmed that she was right about him not being that into her, apologized for not saying that more directly and they ended it right then and there. “It wasn’t what I wanted to hear, but it was what I needed to hear,” she tells me.
Although it was an effective way to sever ties, she admits it wasn’t worth the embarrassment of putting all of her emotions out there for someone she already knew didn’t give a shit about them/her. “I learned my lesson. When you feel like you have to send something like that, it’s already at the end,” she says, adding that she now plans to retire from long texting. “I’ll hopefully recognize the signs myself and leave before I ever send something like that again.”
Gin, on the other hand, vows to continue to send long texts to the people she loves and not worry about their responses because she knows that they’re all busy people who care about her, too, regardless of how they communicate it. “They’ll hit me back when they have the time; I don’t take it personally,” she says.
Moreover, Gin believes that a lot of people secretly want to long text, too, and occasionally need to vent in this very specific way. “I oddly feel like this is my role in their lives,” Gin says, noting that she’s helped both her boyfriend and boss draft their own long texts.
Or the TL;DR version: If you need to go off, she’s will always be there for you.