15 Rules On Whether Or Not To Text Him
Let’s face it, shooting your shot via text is risky. You’re opening yourself up to possibly getting a “Wait, who is this?” reply, or worse, getting ghosted by somebody who’s not feeling it.
Unlike face-to-face interactions where people have to answer when you ask them to hang out (because you’re, ya know, staring at them) having screens between you might make them think they have a pass to be a little less delicate (or speedy) in response. If you’ve ever felt the icy sting of a text that reads nothing more than “k,” you know what I’m talking about. “Rejection and humiliation are such vulnerable feelings,” says Maryanne Comaroto, PhD, psychologist and founder of Queen Of The Jungle, a foundation dedicated to healing women’s trauma. It takes a lotta guts to be the pursuer.
But, on the flip side, sending that text just might be the start of something amazing (or at the very least, fun)—if the person you’re messaging is into you, too. And that’s something that might not have happened if you’d never hit send.
In fact, these texts and their responses, despite their cringeworthy potential, are major indicators pointing to whether this person even deserves your attention in the first place, Comaroto adds.
The tricky part is knowing how and when to text them. But don’t worry, these expert questions are here to guide you—even before you start typing.
1. What is your intention in texting them?
People will often throw caution to the wind if they’re lonely, says Comaroto. There’s nothing wrong with that, she assures, but unless you’re upfront in your text about what you want from this person (or don’t want), there’s a risk of leading them on if you’re not looking for anything more than a late-night cuddle. And, she says, consider this: When you’re not feeling so lonely anymore, will you still want that person around?
If the answer is no, maybe rethink hitting send. “Why am I doing what I’m doing?” Comaroto suggests asking yourself. “Will you be okay with [this choice] today, and will you still be tomorrow?”
If you’re not so sure, Comaroto says to take a beat and consider your relationship goals. Write down what it is you want. And look, this doesn’t have to be a projection of the long term with the wedding bells and 2.5 kids. Just consider whether you’ll look back on this moment and feel regret. And if you’re still not sure, give yourself 24 hours to think it over and revisit it.
2. Are you caught up in a fantasy?
Maybe your mind’s wandering and you’re suddenly envisioning traveling the world with this person, having breakfast in bed, the whole shebang. That’s sweet and all, but not necessarily a reason to text someone. This can sometimes happens, says Comaroto, when you want someone to be your distraction from reality.
So, check in with yourself. Are you daydreaming because you’re smitten or because you’re trying to to bury other feelings with thoughts of this person? If it’s the latter, Comaroto says to tackle whatever it is you’re dealing with head on (which, yes, will be uncomfortable). But that’s how growth happens.
3. Have you recently gone out on a date with them?
Yeah? Then definitely send the text. The best way in, says Ann Rosen Spector, PhD, a psychologist in Philadelphia, is to bring up something you talked about during your date. Say they mentioned a movie they’re super into and you catch a trailer for the director’s next film—send them something like: “Hey, I just saw the trailer for [director’s name here]’s new movie. I can see why you’re into her stuff. If you’re free, want to watch it with me next Thursday?”
Or, if nothing really stood out (are you sure you want to go on a second date?), send a thank you for a nice time and suggest something the two of you can do in the future.
“Should I text him?” isn’t the only question you’ll ask when it comes to dating. All the answers to your burning q’s, here:
4. Do you want to ask them out?
All together now: Text them! Text them! Text them!
How you ask them out is totally up to you, says Beverly Palmer, PhD, clinical psychologist, professor emeritus at California State University, Dominguez Hills, and author of Love Demystified.
But if making a move digitally is more your speed, tell them you’ve been interested in spending one-on-one time with them and were wondering when they had some free time to grab a drink. When they say yes (because who wouldn’t want to go out with you?), propose a time and place and lock it in.
If on the off-chance they’re not interested, it’s okay to let it sting for a bit…then on to the next.
5. Have you already texted them today?
If so, put down your phone.
Unless the two of you text back and forth a lot and regularly spam each other with funny tweets or memes you come across during the day, there’s no reason to send text after text.
Spector’s okay with a double text on occasion, but if you’ve already sent numerous texts that have gone unanswered, they’re probably busy and haven’t seen them. Or, they have seen them and haven’t had a chance to answer yet, or they have no intention of answering you at all. Either way, this is the perfect opportunity to take a hint, says Spector, and back off a little.
She’s not saying you can NEVER send multiple messages to this person, but a long string of texts can feel overwhelming, especially if you’re just getting to know each other. Instead, Spector says, stick to one message at a time and ease them into your texting habits the way you’d ease into any other part of the relationship.
If you have a really strong urge to text someone a hilarious meme you just scrolled past, text it to your mom.
6. Did they text you first?
Then responding is totally up to you.
If you recently went on a date with them and aren’t sure about texting them back,you’re probably on the fence about how you feel. So take some time and think about your response. Then, if you’re willing to give it another go, respond—but if you’re thinking this won’t go all that far, tell them you’re not interested.
Now, if their text gave you butterflies à la seventh grade, respond right back, baby.
Pro tip: They texted you, so you already know they’re interested. From this point on, don’t overthink things. You don’t need to wait 10 minutes, or 20, or 22 before responding to seem less eager. Bring up things that are happening in your life—recent music you’ve just discovered, a cool speakeasy bar you’ve been wanting to check out—and let the conversation flow.
7. Have they ghosted you in the past?
I’d say to ghost them right back, but that’s just me being petty.
Actual advice from an expert: Feel it out for yourself, says Spector. If their text is an explanation detailing why they’ve been MIA and you feel like hearing them out, you do you and write back. But if you’re fed up and don’t really care about where they’ve been, feel free to tell them you’re not feeling it anymore.
If they don’t offer an explanation for their radio silence and hit you with a “Hey, it’s been a while. What have you been up to?” ask them where they’ve been. From there, decide if continuing the conversation is worth your time. Yours is precious, and there’s no reason to waste it on a crappy texter (or worse, crappy person).
8. Is it a weekend or a weekday?
Your weekday texts might be just as casual as your weekend texts, but let’s face it, weekend texts have a tendency to be a little more flirtatious. After all, you don’t have work obligations getting in the way of plans.
Weekend texts can lead to dates or party invites. If that’s what you want, sending Friday-through-Sunday texts is probably the move for you.
Still, while weekend texts can lead to much-wanted IRL time, they might not always be well-received, says Palmer. Some people might want you to send them casual texts during the week, so they know you’re actually feeling them and not just interested in a weekend hookup.
9. Is there a major event going on in their life?
Reaching out to them to wish them luck on a big presentation they mentioned is a nice thing to do, and they’ll probably appreciate it. Even if you’ve only gone on a few dates, says Palmer, don’t hesitate to send them a quick note. It lets them know you’re thinking of them and keeps you fresh in their mind.
10. Are you texting them “just because”?
Who doesn’t want to receive a text that says “I miss you” or “This song I’m listening to made me think of you?” Admittedly, these texts can be kind of mushy, but even if you’re not in a full-blown relationship, it’s just a nice text to send and a nice text to receive—it’ll make the person in your life feel special.
11. Are they an ex?
Well, that changes things.
Being that you and this person are no longer together, texting is probably best reserved for moments when you need something specific and have a clear goal for reaching out to them, Palmer says.
Even if you’re both still single and there’s no risk of upsetting their new partner or yours, take a moment, appreciate the song that reminded you of them for a minute, and move on without hitting them up about it.
You broke up because you weren’t a good fit, so allow them the time they need to focus on their own life and develop new relationships. (And you do the same.) Plus, says Palmer, if you haven’t maintained a friendly relationship in the past, there’s a chance they’ll ignore your text, anyway.
However, if the purpose of your text is specific, a.k.a. you need to talk to them about the dog you shared or you need the number for a plumber who once helped you in a jam, go ahead and text them. Just make it a direct message and resist including too many pleasantries.
12. Is this a new relationship?
By the time you become official, says Palmer, you’ll have some sense of your S.O.’s texting preferences and they’ll have a pretty good idea of yours. So if you’d normally send them a few texts throughout the day, keep it going.
“The way couples communicate is specific to the people in the relationship,” according to Palmer, “and every relationship is slightly different.” Some people might want to receive both good morning and good night texts even on days they see each other, and others might find all the texting overbearing. The safest bet is to do what feels right to you while considering what your partner would like to receive, too.
And if you’re not sure, ask, says Palmer. Yeah, the question might sound weird, but relationships get weird sometimes. Try: “Hey, I sent you a few texts today and you were slow to respond. Were they distracting to you at work? Would you prefer if I kept my texts to the essentials?” Or: “Hey, I’d love to hear from you a little more during the day, just so I know I’m on your mind.”
13. Have you recently fought?
Even if you’ve been in a relationship for a while, your best bet is to wait until the waters between you two have calmed. That way, you’ll both be more receptive to the other’s explanation for why each of you were hurt.
Then there’s the matter of apologizing or addressing the argument from a distance. In these cases, a face-to-face conversation is your best bet because you have the added bonuses of body language to get your point across (not to mention, get a better read on their reaction), says Spector.
But if you’re worried about the discussion escalating into another argument, Spector says texting is okay. Just choose your words carefully. That’s the beauty of a text… you can take your time to curate the perfect message.
Her post-argument text formula? First, explain what made you upset, and then take ownership for your part in the argument, she says. Try something like this: “About that fight yesterday…I had a tough time with the joke you made. I didn’t think it was funny and it hurt my feelings. I’m sorry, though, for raising my voice.”
14.Do you need to vent?
“There’s no harm in wanting to get something off your chest,” says Palmer. If you’re upset about something, the move is to always express how you’re feeling—once you’ve had a chance to organize your thoughts. But don’t expect a reply, she adds.
This is a great opportunity to gauge where you stand with someone, says Palmer. Their response will tell you everything you need to know about how seriously they take your feelings. If they answer, take what you’ve written to heart, and want to work things out, great.
But if they disregard what you’re saying or straight-up ignore you, then you probably don’t need to spend any more time texting them at all.
15. Do you want to know if this relationship is going any further?
There’s nothing wrong with telling someone how you feel over text and expressing that you see the connection developing into something more, like an exclusive relationship, Palmer says. If the person you’re feeling feels the same way, they’ll text you back and say so.
However, once you say, “I’m really into you,” the ball will be in their court. That means being prepared to hear something you won’t like.
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