Texting is a part of modern life and it’s particularly important when dating. It’s not uncommon these days for some budding relationships to spend hours on the phone having full-blown conversations via text.
However, when a relationship is starting to flower things can get lost in text translation. So, there may be some texting etiquette to keep in mind before the romance can fully bloom and/or not die on the vine. Hopefully, like so many dating singles and couples I have worked with, these tips can help guide you while dating and texting.
Find your comfort level with texting
Don’t assume that everyone has the same comfort level with texting as you do. It may be your primary mode of communication or you may be a bit old-fashioned and prefer talking on the phone. The point is to not assume they think exactly as you do.
Your new love interest may have some good reason that they don’t text that often (maybe they spend a lot of time commuting or they are focused at work).
Whatever the case, if there is a discrepancy in the level with texting that you are uncomfortable with, have a straight conversation about it. It doesn’t have to be confronting. Just simply check in about their texting preference. Maybe they simply aren’t big on texting and maybe they are just not that into you. But through an authentic conversation, you may be able to get a good read on things.
If this budding relationship takes off, know that sharing your wants, needs, and expectations is an exercise in communication and compromise anyway, so have on your radar how you and your potential partner move through these kinds of conversations.
The constant lure of immediacy is not your friend
One of the wonderful things about technology is immediacy. We’re all so hooked on the expectation that things should happen with a click of a button. So, don’t necessarily get hung up if your friend doesn’t respond immediately.
According to Match.com’s Single in America study, 34 percent of daters in their 20s expect a response to a text in under 10 minutes (say what?!?!). If you’re over the age of 25 then your hands may be busy with work, driving, cooking, or I don’t know…maybe even being respectfully present with others and living a life.
While it is flattering to receive those sweet “thinking of you” messages and sending them with the hopes of a returned emoji, it’s important not to build that expectation (for yourself or others) without laying the groundwork of real communication.
So, if it feels right, go ahead and send a text with relaxed confidence. It’s called being “breezy,” and have no expectation of an immediate response. Breezing can be an attractive quality and if the person is genuinely interested in you, they will respond when they are best able to and in a timely manner.
Long or short texts?
There is a new saying – the longer the texts, the shorter the relationship. I know it’s new because I just made it up in the last fifteen seconds! On the surface, it may look like I just pulled this out of thin air, but as I reflect more and more on couples I’ve worked with, there is a sound basis for me to make this assertion. So, why do I say this?
It’s relatively simple. In the last 10-15 years, I’ve noticed that couples who rely on texting for the majority of their intimate and more important communications, tend not to establish as healthy an attachment to each other as couples who make the majority of their more meaningful conversations a priority to be in person, or at least on the phone if they are separated by physical distance.
Of course, there are exceptions such as couples in bi-coastal relationships, or couples where one or both tend to travel a good amount for business reasons.
Having said that, I highly recommend using text more for scheduling time together, rather than as your principal means of communication.
Is anyone there?
If you’ve had an encounter (a date, hook-up or budding friendship) with someone and they disappear without a trace – no call, no text, no nothing – then you’ve been ghosted.
It feels very much like the person just suddenly and unexpectedly disappeared into a fog, possibly never to be seen or heard from again.
Yes, it may sting a little bit and even hurt, especially if you didn’t see it coming. Try not to take it too personally because it is a poor reflection of them, NOT YOU. Simply say to yourself, “That’s rude and it’s better to know this now, rather than later on.” And then swipe and move on.
It may be hard not to obsess over the why and how of it all as scroll through the history of your text messages. But it’s important to not beat yourself up – it’s them, not you that messed up here. Have confidence that they are missing out on something special – you.
If you find yourself obsessing, step away from the phone because they clearly have.
Special note to the guys who are more likely to ghost: If you’re tempted to ghost someone, you need to man up and tell her either on the phone or in person. Never end a relationship by ghosting her or in a text. It truly reflects very badly on you, and hopefully, you don’t really want that reputation.
Don’t settle for being someone’s Plan B
While I’m all for spontaneity, if you notice that there are too many last-minute requests for hanging out and you’re uncomfortable with that, then kindly decline with a request to meet up again for a future date.
It may be something like, “I’d totally love to get together with you. I can’t tonight, but if you want to set something up for next Thursday evening that would be great.”
If they are truly interested in spending time with you, they will actively find a way to make it work (if not Thursday night, then they would find what will).
If the people that you are meeting are not living up to your standards, don’t lower yours. Don’t make excuses for their behavior.
Flirting while texting is a wonderful way to build anticipation for your next date. However, I can’t stress enough caution when it comes to explicit language and sexy pictures sent over text.
Remember, texting is electronic communication. And it can come back to bite you weeks, months or years from now. The person that you are chatting with now may be the hot ticket, but 6 months later when the flames have died down and you’ve moved on to other interests, that topless or booty pic is still in their phone accessible to use as they wish. I’d encourage you to soberly, keep that in mind.
It is easy to get carried away in the sexual tension of sexting. However, remember that if the person likes you, they will want to have sex with you if you send explicit texts or not. If you are looking for a relationship, you may want to keep the sexting to a minimum and save the sexy talk for the real world.
If you choose to engage in regular sexting, don’t be surprised if your encounters only revolve around hooking up. You are sending a particular kind of message and setting the tone with how to engage with you.
Drunk texting is NEVER a good idea
Speaking of delusions. Drinking and texting do not mix.
Have you ever heard of it turning out well over text?
And if you do text while drunk or recovering from a hangover, you can probably expect that this will not be your finest hour.
You know better. Your guard is way down when you’re intoxicated. Don’t do it. It’s never a good idea.
Hide your phone in a drawer and go to sleep. You’ll be thankful you did instead of trying to explain your overblown emotions or the trip to Mexico you just promised with someone you’ve only known for two weeks.
Don’t be this couple
So, if this is how their wedding day looks, what do you think are the odds that they will still be together in five years?
Ain’t nothing like the real thing
Texting can create a sense of false intimacy. You may get a feeling that you’re really getting to know someone, but in reality, you’re only engaging in a very limited way behind a glowing screen.
You are very likely missing vitally important verbal and nonverbal cues that you would typically get being in another person’s presence. Over text you may not be able to understand someone’s humor, sarcasm, hurt, aggression, affection, facial expression, etc.
Texting like social media allows a person to hide behind a persona, especially if they are a good writer. Consider the possibility that this distance allows people to be a bit more bold, outrageous, witty, sexy than who they are IRL (in real life).
Take how your friend appears on text with a grain of salt. Maybe they are timid, and initially somewhat less engaging when they have to interact with others in the real world.
Ideally, always make it your highest priority to let the time in real time and in person, be the ultimate measurement for how much you want to engage with them – not the potentially delusional side behind a screen.
I hope that this article was helpful. Texting can be tricky, but hopefully, with a few of these guidelines, you can navigate the dating world a little easier. If you are ever in need of support for getting out there, I’ve helped people of all phases of life, gain the courage and self-esteem to start dating (again) and help them navigate the healthier ways of texting that lead to more fulfillment and better communication. I’d be happy to offer you a 15-minute free phone consultation to see how I may be of help to you.