Texting certainly has its place in the dating arena. But if not done correctly, it also has the potential to squash a romance before it even gets started.
In the dating world, texting has plenty of advantages. For example, the reminder text: "Looking forward to tomorrow night. Pick you up at 7.” Or my personal favorite, the follow-up text to express continued interest: “Thanks again for a fun night. Hope to see you again soon!” But texting is a double-edged sword that, if mishandled, can ruin your chances with someone faster than your thumbs can type “r u free 2night?”
Before I move on to my list of fatal texting mistakes, I want to mention the basic no-no’s that hopefully most people have learned by now. It should go without saying, but never text while driving with your date (or ever!). It shows a lack of concern for everyone’s safety. And never text while on a date—it’s disrespectful and just plain rude. It's also considered extremely bad form to end a relationship via text message (but if you feel threatened, I say forget the face-to-face formality—better safe than sorry). Finally, avoid middle-of-the-night texts. They can come across as cowardly if you are texting when you know the other person is fast asleep, and it is extremely annoying to be awakened by a text alert at 2 a.m.
Now that those are out of the way, here is my list of five ways texting can ruin your dating life:
1. Lazy Texting
I’m just going to come right out and say it: don’t use abbreviations. They come across as juvenile and show a definite lack of effort. How much harder is it to type “are” instead of “r” anyway?
Also, beware of the one-word responses. Texting is hard enough because messages can be easily misinterpreted, but one-word responses are dangerously ambiguous. For example:
Question: “Would you like to go to the movies on Saturday?”
Does this mean “Sure, I would love to go” or “Sure, I guess I have nothing better to do”? Go the extra mile and type out a complete sentence to make your date feel confident. It can’t hurt to throw in a smiley face for good measure, but overuse of emoticons or exclamation points can seem immature, too.
Most people over-text in one of the following ways:
A sure-fire way to send your love interest running for the hills is by smothering him with 10 texts in 10 minutes. Yes, there are times when you might banter back and forth in a fun and natural rhythm. But if you are bombarding him with a barrage of questions or random comments (especially if you send the next text without receiving a response to the last), you need to take it down a notch. You’re coming across as clingy and overanxious.
If you get upset when your dream girl doesn’t text back immediately, whatever you do, don't badger her for a response. Life is busy. People have jobs and Church callings and friends and family that demand their attention.
I recently went with some friends to the movies and turned my phone off for three hours. When I fired it back up, I was shocked to see a full-blown texting tantrum from a guy I had only been out with a couple of times. He had texted several times during those three hours, each message getting progressively sarcastic as he accused me of purposely avoiding him. There were so many red flags waving across my screen that I could have been watching a parade. Can anyone say jealous, possessive, immature, and insecure? Needless to say, I immediately cut off all contact with him.
No one likes to read a novel over text message. Keep it short and sweet.
3. Replacing Talking with Texting
Are you hiding behind texting to avoid emotional intimacy? Are you too intimidated to have meaningful face-to-face conversations or too scared to go on an actual date? These are messages you could be sending if you continually choose texting—the most impersonal form of communication—as your primary form of communication.
Dating is all about creating a connection with someone, so save texting for conveying short bits of information or playful banter and talk about the funny stories and deep questions during phone calls and date nights. If you use all your conversation topics via text, what’s left to talk about when you’re actually together?
Finally, never reveal embarrassing or extremely personal information over text message. Texts can be read over and over again and shared with multiple people.
4. Emotional Texting
As I said before, text messages can easily be misinterpreted, so you’ll save yourself a lot of grief if you save the extreme emotions for face-to-face conversation.
Whether you want to express frustration, anger, or love (yes, I do have a friend whose boyfriend told her “I love you” for the first time over text message), you’ll be able to address the issue much more smoothly in person and avoid the potential of creating more problems through misunderstandings or saying things more harshly than you would in person. And no matter how anxious you're feeling in the moment, texting is not the proper forum for a DTR. It’s hard enough to navigate a dating relationship face to face, let alone without the help of tone of voice, facial expressions, and body language to help us understand each other.
5. Useless or Boring Texting
It can be frustrating to get a text that says nothing more than “hi” or “What’s up?” While the gesture might be appreciated (depending on how interested we are in the person sending it), messages like this lack creativity and can be easily ignored, so this is definitely not the way to win someone over.
Make text messages specific, and don’t always ask a question. Give a compliment like, “You looked amazing in that black dress last night.” Or, if you just want to be flirty, say something like, “Would you stop distracting me already? I can’t stop thinking about you :)” To show her that you were paying attention on your last date, wish her luck on her big presentation at work or ask how her volleyball competition turned out. You could even find a funny photo online and add a caption like, “This is me after today’s chemistry final.”
Above all else, keep it fun and playful, and be creative. Nothing evokes a bigger yawn than “How’s your day?”