So you’re thinking about sending a text to that girl/guy/trans person you really want to bone/get to know better/have babies with. You draft something quickly and casually, something that sounds like what you’d say in normal conversation. This is when you should STOP and remember: this is not normal conversation. This is date-texting, where anything can be misinterpreted and good intentions will bite you in the ass. You may say, “Hey, I’ve got this. I’m an adult, and I can write a text all by myself just by being natural and off-the-cuff.”
Alright, if you say so… But remember that last time, right after your finger hit the un-undoable SEND button and your panicked second-guessing co-opted any otherwise normal mental functions to drive you to the brink of insanity? Mmhmm. Welcome, friend. And before you send that next disaster, consider these simple, intuitive rules* to save yourself from the dangers and embarrassment of SMS communication:
*All rules subject to change depending on timing, social context, involved persons’ sexualities and their adherence/repellence to heteronormative gender expectations. Yeeaa…have fun with that.
1. Less is more. Unless you’re omitting so much information that you’re incomprehensible–or have a penchant for really heinous abbreviating a la ‘wat u doin’–shorten it. This is especially true with over-the-top cheesiness:
2. Be honest and responsive— sometimes.
3. Be vague and specific— at the same time.
4. Imagine receiving the text you’re about to send. Would you text you back? Exactly.
5. Provide as much info as you expect in return. When in doubt, refer to Rule #1.
6. Limit a text or series of texts to one question only, particularly in the earliest stages of dating.
Example (also applies to #3, #4, #5, and #7):
“What time should we meet? Where should we go?” –> “I’m free after 8. Got a favorite spot?”
7. Know your intended dating outcome AND draft accordingly. (And for the love of god, be honest with yourself about what you’re looking for, and preferably be honest with them as well, just not via text message…necessarily. See Rule #2 for clarification.)
8. THINK BEFORE YOU SEXT!! The more graphic it is, the more pause is required.
Seriously– you can’t take that shit back. For negative reinforcement, see pilot episode of Workaholics. That being said, keep an eye out for potential double entendres, then implement them strategically (See Rule #7).
9. Ask a more experienced dater friend to proofread and edit. Your friend should be on your side with documented success in your intended dating outcome area. And be VERY, VERY WARY of group text consultations. Cooks:kitchens::well-meaning friends:your texting convos.
Now, before we get to the end, here are some tips for those with advanced texting skills and/or psychoses:
***Use superlatives and absolutes sparingly. I.e.: ‘finally,’ ‘never,’ ‘always,’ ‘absolutely,’ ‘definitely,’ ‘awesome,’ ‘sweet,’ ‘amazing,’ ‘the best/worst,’ ‘fantastic,’ ‘orgasmic,’ etc. Rotate usage to sound like an adult rather than a dolt.
***Did you know you can prompt the exact response you want by extensively analyzing the conversation and anticipating social conventions to craft the perfect set-up text? Because it only counts as manipulation if you freak out when they don’t respond correctly!! … Jk, folks. Take a chill pill, write what you’re gonna write, and cut that hyperzealous-control-freak shit out.
***Ignore the crazy voices and insecurities trying to derail your foolproof texting plan. –No, Barnaby, NO! No texting on my phone!! No– WHAT DID I SAY???
***Remember that one person who was texting you that one time and came off as crazy, juvenile, boring, morally appalling, etc.? They’re now your litmus test for said quality. Don’t be like that. –GODDAMMIT BARNABY, I SAID NO!!! *Ahem* excuse me…
Ah, yes, and finally:
10. Don’t over-think it. Just be yourself. Ha.