Signs Your Text Messages Are Trying Too Hard
DEAR DR. JENN,
I just started seeing a new guy. I love texting with him but he is not always super responsive. I never know how much texting is too much. Am I doing it wrong? —Tap Happy
Unfortunately having a good texting game is a requirement for dating today. There’s a fine line between showing interest and being overwhelming, and crossing into the latter is not going to be good for a budding relationship. While you’re in the getting-to-know-you stage, you want to set your messages apart from anyone else whom your potential partner may be talking to (uh, texting with). And, you need to know when it’s time to go dark. Here are some guidelines to help you navigate the treacherous waters of modern-day dating.
We’ve all gotten that generic “hey” text. It totally lacks in personal specificity and gives you the impression that the sender may be dishing out 20 of these to see who responds. Don’t be that sender. Text something that shows you were listening during the last conversation that you two had, or that you made a mental note of something that’s important to them. If you’re going for responses, start with a message that makes them want to talk to you. “I just heard that song you told me about, and it made me think of you,” is a solid start. Also worth considering: Ending on a question would make it extremely clear that you’re looking for a text back. (While technically "You up?" is a question, that's not what I mean.)
Keep it Light
In the beginning of a new relationship, texting is not the place for heavy conversations, deep analysis of your standing with one another, or heated debates. Don't be out there trying to define the relationship via tapped out memos. At this point, it’s best to use texting simply as a way to maintain contact, get to know each other, and share some fun banter — and also make plans to get together IRL. Okay, and also sending the occasional sext.
Text During “Normal” Hours
Texting that guy you just met late at night or early in the morning can be the difference between him thinking, “I can’t believe she just woke me up!” As opposed to “Wow I’m so thrilled to hear from her!” It is just inconsiderate.
When to Give Up
Ghosting is an epidemic, and it’s still going strong. How to know if you’ve been ghosted? Play by baseball rules: Three strikes and you’re out. That is, if you get no response whatsoever after you’ve texted three separate times, it’s time to let it go. (You can try some light internet sleuthing first to be sure. But do not make like Issa on Insecure and show up to his house.) Either he is just not that into you or he’s so busy juggling other potential mates that your messages aren’t breaking through — and you probably don’t want to be one of the masses. When we are screening for a new potential partner, we are looking for someone who is considerate: Being able to respond to texts in a timely manner should be part of that test.
Text Once a Day
Once you have established regular contact, maintaining that on a day-to-day basis is a good idea. As a friend of mine says, “A text a day keeps Tinder away.” As a relationship grows, texting becomes more frequent. It is best not to overdo it in the beginning and come across as needy. Showing interest and being receptive is a positive, but you do not want to cross the line into desperation.
Then, Bookend the Day
If you are pretty regularly dating, seeing each other a couple times a week, then it's perfectly normal and healthy dating behavior to send a message at the start and end of the day. A simple “Thinking of you and I hope that interview with your new client goes well,” will do the trick in the morning, and a "sleep tight," type of message at night. We all like to know we are being thought of by someone we're interested in. More than this, or constant communication throughout the day, doesn't give them a chance to think of you, without being urgently reminded to by their phone, let alone respond.
What do you do if the person you are starting to see is not a good texter? Once you have established regular dating patterns, the best thing to do is to reinforce the positive. Let him know how much you really liked hearing from him, or how his text made your day. If you are further along in the relationship, letting your significant other know that you like more contact is appropriate. People who don’t know what you like can’t succeed at meeting your needs. In other words: Ask and you shall receive. And if you don't: You shall move on to someone else.