You Deserve a Partner Who Texts You Back

I don’t know who needs to hear this today, but you deserve better. You deserve a partner who texts you back.

Maybe not immediately, maybe not every single time, but reliably and honestly and with care. You deserve someone who wants you to feel secure and heard, who answers your questions and asks you about your day and your mood and sends you memes they saw on Instagram. You deserve someone who wants to talk to you, no—someone who wants to talk with you, never just at you, no monologues or one-sided status updates, no director’s commentary on your life. You deserve conversation, flirtation, consideration. You deserve all of the fucks, my friend.

I promise you, you’re not being too demanding. You’ve shrunk your expectations, slowly eroding that part of yourself that knows this is bullshit, this is laziness, this is rude. You’ve quieted that voice protesting that they should be trying harder, that they’re not good enough for you, because the world wants you to think you’re not good enough. Please hear me when I say that you are good enough. I don’t care if you are terrified or awkward or depressed or herpes-positive or fat or emotionally scarred—you are a human trying your best. You deserve a partner who is trying their best. If you are worried you are too demanding, too needy, too desperate, you probably aren’t. When did it become wrong to have needs?

I’m not saying we should know everything and have everything of our partners, every little sliver of attention and privacy and time. You know that too, and that’s not what you’re asking for. There’s a wide gulf between controlling and asking. There are miles between wanting to own them and wanting to be loved and handled with care. Don’t they realize how lucky they are to be wanted by you? Don’t they realize what a gift you are?

Honey, you deserve a partner who cheerleads you. You deserve text messages on bad days about how talented you are. You deserve phone calls to ask if you need anything, if they should pick up Diet Coke on their way home. You deserve a champion, a date who talks up your talent and your kindness and your skills to strangers at parties when you’re nervous and you don’t know anyone. You deserve a hype man and a coach, a collaborator and a getaway driver. That shit’s real, I promise. You aren’t asking for the world.

If they make you feel small, if they make you question yourself, check your ambition, leave your feelings and your wants at the door, you deserve more. I don’t care what you’ve done in your life, what mistakes you’ve made or wrong turns you’ve taken—you deserve more. Fuck whoever told you to settle for less. Fuck whoever sold you a lie about compromise, about love being hard, about teaching them how to treat you right. Kindness isn’t something you should have to teach.

It’s not just a text message. It’s not just a plan canceled or a snide joke or a bad mood. If it were just that, you wouldn’t feel like this. You wouldn’t feel that ache spreading through your chest. You wouldn’t send screenshots to your friends asking for a second opinion. You wouldn’t be distracted at work or hiding in your bed, hovering over your phone like it’s a baby bird with a broken wing. You wouldn’t be afraid to tell them that you’re hurt, disappointed, alone, afraid.

You should never be afraid to say that you’re not happy. You should never feel guilty for your pain. This world has told you that you’re difficult. You are not difficult, sweetheart. You are worthy of so much more than this.

Believe me, you are. Better yet, believe that voice in your heart that already knows this. Listen to that voice that already knows the truth about this bullshit. Don’t let them convince you that you’re wrong anymore. You’ve always, always been right.

As my friend Tahlia once told me: We deserve nice things. We deserve nice people. Care is the bare minimum, not a lucky extra. You can tell them I said so, if you want. Blame Tahlia and I for giving you big ideas about this world and what you deserve. Tell them you’ve been corrupted to expect better than their piss-poor imitation of courtship. Tell them it’s over and then buy yourself an ice cream cone. Take your time with it even if it melts on your hands and makes your fingers sticky. Savor that pleasure because you are a human who deserves this refreshing sweetness, this indulgence. This is for you. The time you’ve spent denying yourself what you deserve is over.

Hey there! My name is Ella and I’m a sex and culture critic. If you enjoyed this essay, you’ll be right at home in my Patreon community!

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Ella Dawson is a sex and culture critic and a digital strategist. She drinks too much Diet Coke.

28 thoughts on “You Deserve a Partner Who Texts You Back

  1. I posted this on Facebook, and in the comments my hairdresser said she’d try to hook me up with someone.
    I made 2 mistakes apparently. One, for posting it in the first place… my GF took it all as a “pity post” and bait for finding a new GF, and she broke up with me.
    The other is that I “Liked” the comment by my hairdresser. 🤔😟
    Yeah, we patched things up, sort of. A year later I sched a haircut, and got shit from the GF again about the post, and whether the hair stylist was going to try to hook me up.

  2. This article is so true hits to the bone, like a Lucinda Williams song live! From my personal experience dating women, and recently, It’s these small details that make the painting great between two people. The difference between a Rembrandt and some abstract blob with lines splashed on a canvas. If one person can’t put their cards on the table as much as you, then I guess it’s one game where there’s no winner, which could have been from the very start.

  3. Every young girl and emerging woman should read this advice and take it. The swipe right or left dating culture has made courtship sadly redundant.

    1. I call BS. Expecting respect isn’t co-dependent. It is, as the writer says, “the bare minimum.” So sorry for your gf.

  4. Boy, talk about nailing it….did you ever, Ella. I’ve been thinking for years that I must have been asking for too much, that I wanted too much. And I kept lowering the bar a little more each time. Are there any guys who actually give a damn about actually dating a woman?

  5. Okay, but what if I’m queer and agender and my dating pool is barely existent? What if the only people I can date are those I have to search online for hours for, every day, only to come up with nothing? What if, when I finally find someone I can date, they don’t treat me with the care I need? Do I stay and deal with it, or dump them and be alone? At what point do I have to accept having no romantic/sexual partner for most of my life because I can’t find mutual and caring love?

    1. I get that. Things are a lot more compacted for some of us.

      Honestly, I don’t think anyone magically deserves a great relationship. It’s a lot of work and a of of luck. But, what I DO know is that we don’t deserve to stay with someone who just brings us down. Being single is a lot better than being stuck in a miserable relationship.

    2. As someone who is a lesbian who has had her fair share of emotionally abusive relationships, let me tell you that it is not worth it being with someone who does not value you. You are better off being alone than not receiving the love that you need.

      I hear so often from my LGBTQ friends that they’re afraid to break up with their partners due to the fear of not finding someone. But until you actually demand respect from your partners because you deserve it, you’re going to keep finding people who will take advantage of you. Know your worth. Don’t let ANYONE take that away from you.

    3. I hear you, that sounds exhausting. Something my mother told me recently was so simple and somehow so shocking to me: it only takes one. There is, at the very least, one right partner for you in the world and it will take even longer to meet them if you’re wasting time with people who make you feel awful and don’t understand you. You are more than your identities, you have needs and talents and beauty specific to only you.

  6. Thank you. Thank you, thank you. This should be the very first page in every book and should be aired before news every day.

  7. I love love love this.

    I’m tempted to send it to the social worker, who knows all this to be true, but who, nonetheless, won’t text back. Will let his own scars and vulnerabilities let him retreat from me. Alas, some people show their real selves…

  8. Yes!!! This is exactly what I’ve been talking to my daughter about lately. Will definitely have her read this. Beautiful words. Thank you!

    1. Love this and Ella’s honest, eloquent, funny and personal writing. It’s resonates with my life on so many levels. Keep on trailblazing (if you want) love it!

      Side note- All the trolls should go back to their cave and live the miserable life they choose. A large vocabulary doesn’t make you less of a troll.

  9. Ab-so-fucking-lutely. Beautifully written. I have dated guys who treated me like they thought I was the sexiest woman ever and who cheerleaded everything I did, and others who low-key put me down or ignored me…. the second type don’t last long, its not worth it at all and way less fun than dating someone kind.

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