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It’s a given that dating is coordinated through text nowadays. That’s just the way it is and there’ll probably be no going back to the days of phone calls and machine messages. Maybe it’s better that way, but one of the unfortunate perils of texting, though, is that most people aren’t great at written communication, and it’s much harder to express nuances of tone in short, typed-out messages than it is in a voice-to-voice conversation. We haven’t encountered much advice on how to get your point across through text, so we asked online-dating expert Erika Ettin of A Little Nudge for her suggestions.
Before the First Date
The days of calling a woman and asking her out on a date are a thing of the past. If you are one of the men who still makes the call, then I have a lot of respect for you. And if you’re over 40, a phone call is still the most appropriate method. That said, texting does have its advantages: Rejection seems less painful, you can do it anytime and anywhere (even from the, ahem, toilet), and it doesn’t take as much courage to ask someone out. I’m not saying not to text someone to ask her out (though, if you’re online dating, you’ll be asking her out over email), but I am saying that the text should be clear, concise and, most importantly, nice. In addition, it’s best to confirm a day before the date. Something like, “Really looking forward to seeing you tomorrow at 7” should do the trick. She’ll be happy to see that you’re on the ball.
Texting is also great if you’re running late, can’t find parking or can’t find your date for some reason (let’s just hope it’s not because she looks nothing like her profile pictures).
What not to do at this stage: Cancel via text on the day of the date. If you have her phone number, have the courtesy to call.
After the First Date
My favorite use of the text after the first date is the “thank you” text. If you had a good time and want to see the person again, send a text saying something to the effect of, “Thanks again for a fun time last night!” What are other variations of this? The flirty thanks: “Thanks again for a great time last night. Too bad we had to go to work today ;)” The suggesting-the-second-date thanks: “Thanks again for a great time last night. I’ll be sure to ask if you’re allergic to seafood next time :)” If the feeling was mutual, it’ll put a smile on her face to see your name pop up on her phone.
How soon do you follow up after a date, though? The advent of modern technology — texting, Gchat and email — has completely compressed the “three-day rule.” A survey performed by the company LoveGeist found that after a first date on a Saturday evening, most daters will get in touch by 11:48 a.m. on Monday with a call or text. Thus, 1.52 days is the average time spent waiting for a follow-up message. The three-day rule is now cut in half. I don’t, however, recommend a first date on a Saturday night, especially a first online date. A weeknight or Sunday evening works well, and then if you want to see each other again, you can plan for the coveted Friday or Saturday night slot when you already know you have some chemistry. When it comes down to it, if you like someone, it’s so easy to get in touch. By waiting the antiquated three days, it’s already a foregone conclusion that you’re probably just not that into the other person.
What not to do at this stage: Have a long, detailed conversation over text — it’s just too much.
Early on in an Exclusive Relationship
In the early stages of a relationship, texting can be the most fun. Here are a few examples:
A middle of the day flirt: “Just thinking about how pretty you looked last night.”
Good morning/Good night/Can’t wait to see you: “Good morning, sunshine!”
One random, funny thing that happened: “You won’t believe what happened today. My boss’s pants split, and he had to go home!”
I miss you: “Thinking about how I can’t wait to see your face later.”
In the beginning of a relationship, there are hormones flying, butterflies dancing and the possibility of a true connection. A good text can only heighten the excitement.
What not to do at this stage: Break up with someone via text. This is such a no-no, although Sex and the City fans would agree that it’s better than a Post-it note.
When you finally make it into long-term relationship territory, don’t let those cute texts fall by the wayside. Make sure between texting about what you’re having for dinner tonight and whose turn it is to do the laundry, you throw in a sweet “thinking about you” now and then. It’ll go a long way.
Happy dating in the world of technology!
Erika Ettin is the Founder of A Little Nudge, which helps people find success in online dating and gets them excited about its possibilities. She studied economics at Cornell and has an MBA from Georgetown, but her true calling is profile-writing, date coaching and bringing people together. Want to get in touch with Erika? Join her mailing list.