As a Matchmaker, Dating and Relationship Coach, I challenge my clients (and single friends for that matter) to avoid texting as much as possible early in a relationship. There is frustration on both sides out there in the dating scene – both men and women are guilty of bad texting habits in this online / digital world.  People can reach us – anytime, any place… but that doesn’t mean they should.  I’ve seen more than my fair share of promising new connections ‘crash and burn’ due to texting.  It's too bad.  Communication can be easily confused or misunderstood - and boundaries can be violated when you don’t really know someone. 

Let’s look at some basics.  Of course, no one wants to feel like they are being stalked.  Communication in new relationships should be balanced.  And in this instant gratification culture of ours, patience is (still) a virtue.  Romance and chemistry are exciting and fun – but you’ve got to be patient and get to know someone in person or voice to voice.  And that takes time and experiences together (aka DATING).  It’s often a red flag when someone starts burning up your phone with long text messages and photos early on…

Let’s start at the beginning, which is one of the trouble spots I am hearing about.  Men, please call and ask women out on dates as opposed to sending ambiguous texts about schedules and getting together.  Be intentional.  Make a plan and practice chivalry – which includes a personal invitation out on a date.  Women want to be pursued by men they are interested in… within reason.  They want to know that you are interested in them and that you are thinking about them – but not too much ; )  Again, it’s a balance - and an art. 

Of course, don’t text while on a date.  Give someone your full attention – silence your phone and don’t check it periodically.  Taking a phone call or checking your phone is rude;  it demonstrates poor boundaries and a general disregard for the person you are with.

After a first date, I believe it is okay to text someone to thank them or to tell them you enjoyed the date.  It’s a thoughtful, classy thing to do.  Keep it short and sweet.  The next communication should come from the other person – in the form of a text or a call.  It’s important to be honest and mature when dating.  Don’t send mixed signals if you are not interested.  Of course, you don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings (and you also don’t want to encourage them) if you are not interested in another date.  Be respectful, kind and honest.

I suggest setting a boundary early on – perhaps even the first or second date.  A simple, “I’m not much of a texter.  I’d much rather talk on the phone or in person” is an easy way to show someone how you’d like to communicate.  If  it is past that point and texting has become a primary form of communication, people often worry that if they attempt  to change the dynamic, the other person will take it personally.  In this case, I recommend sandwiching the concern between two positive statements.  A simple “You know, I am really enjoying getting to know you but I prefer talking over texting.  It helps me get to know you better” is a great way to make a point without hurting someone’s feelings.  Healthy relationships are about clear communication, setting boundaries and demonstrating respect for the other person. 

There are a few common scenarios right now (or a combination thereof) where people are getting into trouble with regard to dating and texting.  Beware:

The Over-Texter:  Texting is not a substitute for actual conversations.  It’s a turn off to many people when the other person wants to have a 20 minute text conversation.  Pick up the phone and call.  Lengthy thoughts about your feelings or oversharing personal information are a definite  no-no. 

The Buzzed Texter: Don’t text when you are out drinking or after being out on the town late at night.  Alcohol compromises judgment. Enough said. Oh, the stories I have…

The Inappropriate Texter:  Feeling flirty?  It can wait for another time.  Don’t say something you wouldn’t say to someone’s face in a text.  This includes sexual innuendo or emotionally charged texts.  Again, oh the stories…

The bottom line is that if you don’t know someone well, you shouldn’t be texting them EXCEPT to set a time for a date, confirm details of a date, or let someone know you are running a few minutes late.  (And while we’re on that thought, please don’t text and drive - and always make every effort to be on time for dates.  It shows that you respect the other person and their time!)

‘Have fun out there – and get back to personal communication basics when it comes to getting to know someone you are interested in. Your dating life will be more successful and productive if you keep texting under wraps. 

Cheers to love!

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