Dating has changed a lot since we all became obsessed with our Smartphones. Communication has changed from predominately vocal communication to, for the most part virtual (Pew internet & American life project) ,the vast majority of communication being made up of text messaging on various platforms.
The problem with more people preferring to tap out a message than communicate face to face, is that texting really is a flawed method of communication.
Firstly, there are no body language cues to pick up on, so when it comes to communications of feelings and attitudes, this immediately rules out a whopping 55% of communication according to the traditional rule, comprised by Albert Mehrabian (1964).
Secondly, there can be no vocal tone detected in a virtual message, (take off another 38%) which, perhaps even more fundamentally, means that the same message can be interpreted by the recipient in any number of ways.
So what are you left with? Basically, when texting is your preferred method of communication, you are operating on a lowly 7% level of communication.
This is often no different from two people trying to communicate in a completely different language. I’m sure we have all fallen victim to this when an innocent message to a significant other, or prospective partner is interpreted with a negative, abusive, or critical meaning.
Once the shovel has broken through the topsoil, it is often difficult to dig our way back to the original meaning without embarrassment or ill-feeling. Of course, when the dating process begins, we really shouldn’t put one particular woman on a pedestal, or we are more likely to come across as needy, but this can be easier said than done.
Emoji icons/Smilies and kisses can help matters, but what are the rules of engagement for their use? No one seems to know for sure and I’m sure individual opinions vary. I’m sure we’ve all pondered over what should be a very simple message or reply, wondering if a kiss will be interpreted as ‘coming on too strong’.
Just typing an automatically generated capital X on an iPhone after a full stop can be enough to strike terror in your heart (Whoa there, coming on a little strong, aren’t we?!) Two kisses? It’s probably best to only do this if she just sent a message with two kisses immediately prior.
Even then, sometimes there’s a lot to be said for not being quite as ‘giving’ or interested as she is, especially in the early stages of a union, the idea being that she generally has to be seen to want escalation first, so you don’t look needy. If you are in any doubt whether or not to use kisses in your message, maybe you should use an Emoji instead.
Let’s talk Emoji’s. Their use is primarily to lighten up communication. The ‘Wink’ Emoji is a particularly useful and powerful tool, which I find makes light of what you have just typed and makes it much more likely to be interpreted in a ‘tongue firmly in cheek’ manner.
This is especially good when typing something intimate which could easily cause offence, or if you are unsure of the lay of the land. Example: “I forgot to buy milk for my flatmate, I blamed you ;)” or “Wouldn’t want anything to ruin our sex life. It’s just getting good ;)”.
Anything where you think a meaning may be misinterpreted can be helped by a Wink Emoji, even if you realise and send it immediately after the message itself. The Wink doesn’t necessarily help to imply the correct meaning, but what it does help to do is keep the person guessing as to the implied meaning, whilst keeping things friendly and light hearted.
When it comes to frequency/quantity of texts, again, there are a lot of opinions on what is right. I would just say go with your gut, but there are so many guys that actually seem to have zero clue about texting etiquette, that this needs further explanation.
A lot of people seem to use the 2:1 rule – she sends two texts, then you send one. What this does is distance you a little bit and make you seem less keen on her, upping your value in the interaction. In practice, it doesn’t actually have to be 2:1. The idea is that after she sends you a text, you wait it out. She will quite often send a second text later to capture your interest and only then do you respond.
If a girl is particularly keen, then this works like magic, but be warned: it can also give her the feeling that you are disinterested, so maybe is best used in moderation.
What I would say is this: Keep things varied. Sometimes wait for a second text from her, other times wait a few hours to reply (It’s always best to appear like you have a busy and full life, even if you’re dull as ditchwater – makes you look more interesting!) At other times, get into a brief quick fire convo with her, but always try to let her send the last message.
The key is not to look over keen. If you are in any doubt, STEP AWAY FROM THE SMARTPHONE! Seriously, step away, give it five minutes or an hour, without overthinking the situation. If you can stop yourself from overthinking, (use mindfulness techniques) the wisdom of how to proceed will eventually make things clear. Remember: Scarcity is attractive – if things or people are too easy to pin down, it makes them less attractive and lowers their value as a result.
Some girls will get needy with you when using these methods, showing they are keen and again raising your value. Occasionally, you will meet an Alpha female type, who has probably met one too many player types and can give as good as she gets.
This can lead even the most seasoned texter into the second guessing zone, but if you have presence of mind and can relax and not make her your sole focus, you will succeed. If you can conquer this girls heart, you can consider yourself a texting master!
So how do you know when she’s lost interest? When the conversation goes dead and stays dead, this can often be a clear sign. However, people tend to have busy lives.
I know what I’m about to say will be difficult to believe for a lot of guys (and girls) but a lot of people (and more specifically the kind of people you want to come into your life and stay) are busy, content in themselves and happy in solitude/alone time.
Some may even have a lot of hobbies, a second job, or Children. Dating for these people – the kind of person you should aspire to being yourself, is an added extra. This person is open to the idea of finding a soulmate, but it is nowhere near the top of their list.
Actively seeking a loved one or soulmate, generally means you won’t find one. I had to explain this concept to a very good friend recently, when a woman he was dating went quiet on text for a day.
If the conversation dies for a while, don’t start getting super analytical about the prior text conversation, or spend hours ruminating and brooding about what you did wrong. Instead, involve yourself in a hobby, an interest or some work.
Get out and get some fresh air, or meet friends and resist the temptation to ask their opinion. Then, if there has still been no response the next day, send a quick cheery message (Don’t, whatever you do, ask if everything is OK!) along the lines of “Hey, how’s the head/stomach/dog doing?” or, better still, share a funny social media story with her direct to message”.
What you’re aiming to show her, is that you’re a strong independent person, who is not looking for her approval, or scared of saying or doing something wrong. You are confident, self assured and direct in your communication.
So we’ve covered frequency, but there’s something else; try to match communication wherever possible: If she sends a single line text, send the same back. If she texts a paragraph at a time, you should do the same.
Some people like to send several smaller texts rather than one big one, so again, try to match this. All I would say here is: try not to send a huge monologue of text, as no one likes to have to read through this and it will turn her off.
You need to keep things light hearted with a lot of friendly teasing, joking and light hearted banter and never be seen to be letting anything she sends you upset you (even if it does!)
She WILL test you quite often, especially in the early days, as she’s trying to suss out your character and how much of a man you are. If you get upset or needy, or are the type of person who feels a need to justify yourself, or fight harsh words with harsher words, then you’re not going to get very far.
When she does send you these texts, step away from your phone for a while and consider your response; if in doubt just send something light hearted back like “Hahahahahaha”, ignore the criticism and quickly change the subject onto something more light hearted or fun. This just tells her: “I’ve got nothing for you” and you don’t come across like all the other needy nice guys she has dealt with, upping your value in the process.
Once you have passed these texts and you have been texting a while, had a few dates and are getting on pretty well, the tests will die down, but will never fully go away, so you need to keep your behaviour congruent when entering into a relationship.
Once you are officially a couple, the texting games should go away to a large extent, although there will always be times when things go quiet, or don’t quite go to plan, as we are all subject to moods, feelings and trying to process our emotions, especially when entering into a new relationship. Imagine that she is as scared of getting hurt as you are and stay present as the relationship progresses. Be kind to yourself and be kind to her too. Rome wasn’t built in a day.