Texting is a crucial part of dating. In a world filled with social media, we do more and more communicating via text – through our smartphones, through apps like Snapchat and WhatsApp. In fact, for a lot of people, texting is their preferred means of communication – actually calling on the phone is an anxiety-producing nightmare that would fit in perfectly in a Hieronymous Bosch depiction of Hell.
But regardless of whether it’s a matter of convenience, speed or a preferred method for delivering plausibly deniable nudity, the more connected we become, the more important texting becomes when we want to connect, flirt and date.
Unfortunately, that also means a lot of people are doing it wrong. While texting can be a powerful tool for generating interest and getting dates, it’s also the means by which you can snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. If you’re suddenly getting radio silence from the people you’ve been texting with, you’re going to want to make sure you’re not making these deadly texting mistakes.
When it comes to dating in all of its forms, there’s one universal sin: being boring. The worst dates aren’t the ones where you and your date hate each other with the passion of a thousand suns. They’re the ones where nothing happens and you can feel the hours of your life withering and dying. So it is with texting. We only have so much time in this world and none of us want to waste it trying to pound life into a conversational corpse. That’s time and energy we could be using doing more important things, like comparing toilet paper brands.
One of the reasons why guys get ghosted and folks do the fade is that there’s no reason to want to stay in contact with them. The conversations start duller than a butter knife and just get worse from there. Meaningless “just want to chat” texts drain emotional momentum from your interaction. The excitement she may have felt about getting to know you is going to die quietly in the corner when every conversation is some variation of this:
This isn’t to say that every conversation has to be sparkling with wit and banter that would make Oscar Wilde proud to claim he said it first, but it does need to be interesting and engaging. There should be substance behind your texting – something meaty that the other person can sink their conversational teeth into. It could be something crazy that’s happening or a question that prompts a conversation. You could even be texting just to flirt, because flirting is inherently fun. But if all you’re doing is just killing time, then you’re killing the attraction as well.
Remember: the reason you got their number in the first place is because you want to set up a date. Pointless conversations are where attraction goes to die.
You Have No Chill
The second most common texting mistake guys make is simple: they come across as being too needy. Whether they mean to or not, their behavior projects intense desperation, which turns people off. Neediness and desperation send the message that you have low to no self-esteem. Not only do you not bring anything to the table, but you’re going to be making constant emotional demands. People have enough to worry about in their own lives without having to be responsible for someone else’s emotional state.
This manifests in a number of ways. The most common example is the guy who’s constantly texting and messaging. He’s the one who will send dozens upon dozens of needless texts at all hours. They can’t stand the written equivalent of lulls in the conversation and fill the ether with chatter.
At times, this is more of an issue of enthusiasm rather than neediness. It can be cute – sometimes – at first, like an excitable new puppy. But the novelty of it wears off very quickly. The demands on the other person’s attention start to grate on their nerves. Pretty soon afterwards, you’re left with someone who’s dreading the moment they hear that incoming message tone.
Ideally, you want to keep your conversational ratio around 1:1. While there’s always going to be a slight imbalance in the conversation – sometimes somebody gets on a roll – you want to treat it like tennis: one serve, then volleying back and forth. This keeps the conversations from getting one-sided and – more importantly – it keeps you from acting like you need their attention.
There are also the people who lose their minds when the person they’re texting with doesn’t respond immediately. If the pause lasts any longer than a minute or two, they start to freak out.
Like Gatsby staring at the lights out in the harbor, these are the people who will spend their days hovering over their phones, waiting for the “Read” receipt and the “…” indicator to pop up. It’s not a good look on anyone. At best, it says that you have no patience. At worst it signals that you’ve gotten overly attached.
The fact of the matter is that not everybody treats texting with the same priority. Sometimes people get busy and replies get a lower priority. Sometimes they don’t have their phone with them. And sometimes people simply don’t feel like talking just then and they’ll get back to you later. It’s important to be comfortable with letting conversations proceed at their own pace and not read too much into silence or unreturned texts. Chill out and let it go. You can serve another message the next day.
Just remember: one unreturned texts could be anything. Two is worrisome, but reasonable. Three is a message: they don’t want to talk to you.
You Lead With Your Junk
The bane of almost every woman’s online existence is the horny guy with no boundaries. Whether it’s on OKCupid, Facebook or plain old texting, almost every woman has dealt with guys who try to turn every conversation sexual. Often within the first one or two exchanges. Case in point:
Nobody, even people who are interested in casual sex, likes getting propositioned right off the bat. There’s nothing charming or refreshing or even that interesting about somebody whose first message is “want some dick?” Even people who are terminally horny want to establish a connection and see how compatible they may be with their potential partners. Rolling into the conversation cock first is a signal to others. Under the most charitable reading, you’re someone who’s so blind to social conventions and emotional intelligence that it’s amazing you’re allowed out of the house. At worst, it’s a giant neon sign that you don’t see the person you’re texting as a person. For all intents and purposes, you’re signalling that you see them as an especially elaborate sex toy and you’re hoping to jerk off inside them.
This is, needless to say, not a good look. It is, however, a great way to end up getting your number blocked – and possibly having your conversation screenshot and posted to Tumblr.
The same rule applies with sending dick picks.
It’s not a sexy way to flirt with someone, it’s the electronic equivalent of the cat dropping a dead baby squirrel on your bed and expecting you to appreciate it. Even when the flirting is getting hot and heavy, dropping your dong into the conversation is going to kill it stone dead. There’s little appeal in a disembodied wang; the sexiness of it comes in context and relation to the penis-haver, and they’d much rather see it with you and in person than flopping around on its own.
There is a time and place for sending pictures of your package and that’s when someone specifically requested it. And even then, you might want to consider having someone else take the photo.
Now, that being said…
You Don’t Flirt, Either
At the other end of the spectrum is that you’re not flirting at all. In its own way, this can be just as bad as being too forward. Not showing any interest is going to kill a burgeoning romance dead. Now, I get the impulse to try to avoid coming on too strong. You want to be respectful. You don’t want to be yet another asshole in the sausage parade marching through her dating profiles. But there’s being respectful and there’s being inactive. If you’re not actually flirting, then you’re sending a clear message: “Not interested.” This is how guys end up in the Friend Zone1: they’re acting like a friend, not a potential lover.
Flirting isn’t just about generating attraction, it’s about showing that you’re interested too. Women aren’t mind-readers. They’re just as confused and scared when it comes to dating as you are. If a woman gives her number to a guy and gets nothing but respectful and polite conversation from him, she’s going to assume that’s all he wants. And while having someone to talk to is great, the point isn’t to just have long and in-depth conversations about Supernatural or The Last of Us. You are, presumably, looking to date this person. You have to let them know that this is what you want. Flirting sends a message that you like them as more than just a friend.
Now, that doesn’t mean that flirting needs to be sexual to be seen as flirting. You don’t need to go from zero to penis in order to send the right message. In fact, it can be good to start with a non-physical compliment or playful jokes and gently work up to more intimate topics. Even when you do bring up getting physical, you can do it in ways besides asking them to gargle your balls. You can use innuendo. You can play teasing framing games. But it’s the flirting – not the sex – that’s important.
Because of this common mistake:
You Take Too Long To Ask Her Out
This is one of the biggest mistakes people make when it comes to texting: they play it so safe that they never get around to actually asking someone out on a date. It happens more often than you’d think. Guys, especially ones with little social experience, don’t want to risk rejection, They want to be absolutely, 100% sure that the person they’re interested in wants to go out with them. And so… they wait. They check and double-check everything she says. They make tentative gestures towards going out, often so tentative that they go unnoticed.
In short: they do everything but ask her out on a date. As a result, they start bleeding emotional momentum and the attraction they’d built up dissipates into a cloud of frustration.
The point of texting isn’t just to text someone, it’s to move the relationship forward. If all you want is someone to talk to, that’s great… but if it isn’t, then waiting too long works against you. If you’re not moving towards going out on a date, you’re just spinning your wheels and wasting everyone’s time. You actually have more to lose by not asking them on a date.
Here’s the thing: when someone’s given you their number, it’s because they like you. That alone is an indication that they will probably want to see you. But if you’re having good conversations and they’re participating in the flirting and teasing? Then you have no reason not to ask them out. You don’t need a special reason or excuse for them to see you. You like her and you want to take her on a date is the only reason you need.
Don’t overcomplicate things or make up a story to explain why you’re asking. Keep it simple: You want a drink and would love some company. Would she be interested in coming? There’s something you’re going to do and you’d love to take her with you. Does she have any plans this weekend, and would she like to go do this cool thing? Give a couple of times as options; being flexible but having specific plans is more likely to result in a date than “hang out sometime.”
I get that it can feel intimidating, but trust me. Learn how to avoid these mistakes and texting will be one of the most powerful tools in your dating arsenal.
- Standard disclaimer: there’s no such thing as the Friend Zone, just people who don’t want to fuck you. The term is used here as a convenient shorthand [↩]