Emmanuel Jamir, a sketch comedy content creator from New York, is a proud member of the “paragraph texter” club.
You’ll know Jamir has arrived to the group text when you receive long, big blocks of prose. For him, sending jumbo texts is just about efficiency.
“Paragraphs make it easier for me to divulge information,” Jamir, 22, told HuffPost. “When I send paragraphs I’m usually explaining something or trying to convey a thought.”
“Plus, I don’t want to blow up my friends’ phones with multiple texts, even though they don’t really care,” he said.
I am a paragraph texter. I have points and you will read them. pic.twitter.com/np5VwhVgUs
— Emmanuel Jamir (@emmanueljamiir) June 8, 2023
Funnily enough, when it comes to incoming texts, he prefers to read single-sentence messages: “It just makes it easier for me to receive information.”
Jamir isn’t alone in his verbose texting style. Some of us just can’t get our thoughts down to a drip, and prefer getting everything off our chest at once. If we’re planning a Friday night out, we try to include all the details from the jump: time, place, dress code. If we’re in a heated conversation with our partner, expect a novel.
Kathilia Edghill, a therapist who lives in Barbados, is also a paragraph texter, though she prefers to think of it more as being an intentional communicator.
“My thoughts or feelings about something are usually multifaceted and layered,” she said. “Communicating in blocks helps me to keep things together, and creates a space where my thoughts can flow well together, which hopefully results in more clarity for the reader.”
“I find that exercising thoughtfulness, giving context, and being thorough helps ensure clear communication over texts,” she explained.
Not everyone loves paragraph texters, though. Social media is full of short-sentence texters ― or dry texters, as they’ve also been called ― sharing how they like to troll the paragraph communicators in their lives:
Mastering the art of replying to the most useless part of the text when she sends paragraphs >>>>>
— Mùsakùrù (@musakuru45) November 25, 2022
I rarely read my mothers texts, i just be putting "okay" to everything. Especially when she sends paragraphs.
— KaySam. (@whiteg0ld_) February 9, 2012
Given the minor #discourse about texting preferences, we decided to ask therapists why they think some of us prefer to go long in this particular format. Does the habit reveal something deeper about our personalities? (While we had them, we also asked for some advice on how paragraph texters and dry texters can better communicate.)
You may have an anxious attachment style.
Our attachment style informs so much about the way we communicate with and relate to one another ― including, sometimes, how we text, said Chadley Zobolas, a therapist and owner of CZ Therapy Group in Denver.
If your texts tend to contain magnitudes, for instance, you may have an anxious attachment style, which means you struggle to feel secure in relationships and you tend to cling to your partner, fearing they may leave you.
“Although it isn’t an exact science, I think it’s safe to say that many paragraph texters have an anxious-leaning attachment style,” Zobolas said. “When I think about a ‘paragraph texter,’ I envision someone who prioritizes consistent and in-depth communication with the important people in their life.”
If we throw anxious-leaning attachment into the long-texting equation and peek underneath the surface, Zobolas said we might also find a deep longing for validation and a desire to feel wanted, seen and valued by others.
“As humans, we’re wired to try to get our basic attachment needs met at all costs,” she said. “For someone with an anxious-leaning attachment style, paragraph texting ― and everything that comes along with it ― likely serves as one avenue for that instinctual process to take place.”
Tess Brigham, a psychotherapist and host of the pop culture podcast “Psychlegalpop,” also saw a connection between an anxious attachment style and paragraph texting. (You might also be anxiously attached if you’re a rapid-fire constant texter ― someone who sends barrages of short texts, one after the other, even when there’s no reply from the other person.)
“Anxiously attached people need to get what they’re thinking and feeling out as soon as possible, even if they know they’re making things worse, and even if they know they should wait until the two of you are in the same room or over the phone,” she said. “Their anxiety gets the best of them and pushes them to get everything out at once. They’re seeking out validation.”
“Although it isn’t an exact science, I think it’s safe to say that many paragraph texters have an anxious-leaning attachment style,” said Chadley Zobolas, a therapist in Denver.
Conversely, a very short texter is more likely to be avoidantly attached, Brigham said. That’s exactly why they bristle at overly long texts.
“The more the anxious person pushes, the more the avoidant pulls away, which means the more one person writes, the more the other person feels compelled to keep their part short,” she explained.
The avoidant person doesn’t want to feel forced to do anything they don’t want to do, so responding with “K” is their way of asserting their independence, Brigham said.
Still, just because someone primarily sends long and thorough text messages doesn’t mean they are automatically venturing into anxious/insecure attachment or seeking connection from a wounded place, Zobolas said.
“The most important thing to remember about attachment is that it exists on a spectrum (avoidant-secure-anxious), with the majority of people finding a home base with secure attachment and only leaning into anxious or avoidant realms in response to triggers (i.e. relationship conflict of any kind),” Zobolas explained.
It may be a generational phenomenon.
Brigham thinks that your texting style and your preference for a particular communication method (e.g. text versus a phone call versus sending something quick on BeReal) probably say more about your generation than they do anything else.
Brigham, a member of Gen X, said texting was never part of dating for her or her husband, so they never really got into pattern of texting each other all day long. They’ve also never had a fight or a serious conversation via text.
Millennials are different, she said.
“Since I specialize in working with young people, what I’ve noticed over the years is that my millennial clients who are on the older side ― 30-40 ― tend to text their partners a lot throughout the day, and they’ll get into long, drawn-out fights via text,” she said.
Then there’s Gen Z.
“I notice with my younger clients ― my Zennials and Gen Zers ― they text but they have all these other platforms like TikTok, Snapchat, and other ways to communicate with each other and their partners, and they don’t get into these long texting fights the way my [millennial] clients have in the past,” she said.
Long texters and millennials often overlap, one therapist suggested.
Or it could be a gender thing.
Anecdotally, more women cop to being verbose over text than men, and that syncs up well with one of our earlier points: Women tend to be more anxious in relationships, while men tend to be more avoidant.
“While there are a ton of different factors that influence which attachment style we ultimately lean toward, research examining attachment through a cisgender, heteronormative lens does show a higher likelihood for women to lean anxious and men to lean avoidant,” Zobolas said.
Women and girls are socialized to express emotions (though when they do so, they’re often labeled “hysterical” or “dramatic”), so an inclination toward wordy texts would make sense.
“Boys and men are socialized to ‘stop acting like a girl’ and push their emotions and needs down to appear ‘tough’ and unbothered,” which may result in more brevity in conversation, via text or otherwise, Zobolas said.
Danielle Wayne, an anxiety therapist based in Boise, Idaho, said that if there is a gender breakdown in communicating style, it’s something society has taught us, not something innate.
“Those of us who tend to use more language to explain ourselves do so because we don’t feel heard,” she said. “So minorities, including women, tend to use more text to explain themselves than men, but this tends to happen with all minorities and not just women.”
If you’re a paragraph texter, here’s some advice on how to better communicate with the dry texters in your life.
The first rule of being a paragraph texter? Being OK with the fact that the other person is going to respond how they respond, Brigham said.
“You have to take into consideration everything that’s happening at that moment,” she said. “Are they at work? Are they having a stressful day? Do they have their phone on them during the day?”
“You don’t know what’s happening in their world at that moment,” she explained.
Jamir, the comedy content creator, doesn’t expect his friends to respond to every part of his paragraphs.
“I just trust that they read it and understand it,” he said. “I try to adapt my texting style depending on who I’m talking to, so everyone might not get the lengthy responses. But most times my friends just get it.”
Sometimes, after firing off a missive, a paragraph texter will realize that they just needed to get something off their chest and put it into words. Pressing “send” wasn’t even that important, Brigham said.
“If you find that you tend to write long messages to a lot of people, journaling can be a great way to get all of your thoughts and feelings out of your head,” she said. “Many times that’s all you need, is to simply get the feelings out.”
If you’re the one receiving paragraph texts, it’s OK to propose setting some healthy boundaries.
It’s also important to acknowledge that receiving a long block of text can be anxiety-inducing for some, said Edghill, the therapist and paragraph texter.
“Seeing a long message can elicit a measure of anxiety, too, and there may be a degree of emotional space and intentionality that someone requires before they engage with your message,” she said. “What I’ve learned is that if I say something and it’s not acknowledged and I want it to be, it’s OK to bring it up again.”
At the same time, if you’re the one receiving paragraph texts, it’s OK to propose setting some healthy boundaries. For instance, maybe you don’t talk about weighty emotional issues over text, instead tabling them for in-person chats.
“You can decide that certain topics are best talked about in person, to avoid miscommunications that can easily happen over texting,” Wayne said.
If you’re not sure what to say, but you want to acknowledge you’ve heard what the other person has to say, Zobolas shared a helpful prompt.
“If you need some more time before you respond, just say, ‘Hey! Just responding to let you know I saw this so you aren’t left hanging. This is super important and I want to be able to give it my full attention. I’m busy with ___ right now until around ___ but will reach back out when I’m done!’”
The bottom line is, a paragraph texter just wants to be heard.
“Active listening can help a lot here,” Wayne said. “In written format, this could mean using a short summary of what they typed out. Or using open-ended questions to ask more about the situation. These things help us feel like someone is actually listening, and not just waiting for their turn in the conversation.”