8 Dos And Don'ts When Texting Your Significant Other

When even celebrities like Jennifer Aniston share her infamous John Mayer “That’s it — the end” break-up text, one begins to wonder if anyone’s relationship is immune to the trials and tribulations of texting. Dating in a tech-savvy world undoubtedly raises new questions — mainly, how is texting, tweeting, and non-verbal communication affecting our romantic relationships?

E-communication has become such an accepted medium for couples’ conversation that it has not only inspired multiple advice columns, but entire books devoted to interpreting textual relations. For just one example, see Flirtexting: Dating Advice for a Digital World. Apple recently responded to the demand for texting as well, releasing “Pair,” a new app that allows a couple to stream their romantic dialogue in one place, removing it from the public sphere of Facebook and Twitter.

In the ways texts simplify logistical communication, they often present an easy way out of having to confront someone or share deeper emotions and desires. While this allows individuals to take more risks — perhaps sending a slightly more suggestive text or boldly asking someone out — it can equally lead to miscommunication and foiled relations. Relying on texts as a main form of communication often limits one from truly learning about a partner’s tone and intention. With newer romances especially, texting allows people to maintain grey area relations for a lengthier period of time. 

Sending a flirty or suggestive text, however, has also been found to strengthen relationships, especially in long-term romance. These types of texts, however, are quite popularly used often outside of one’s relationship. A 2012 survey by Recombu.com found that 1 in 10 report deleting flirty texts in efforts to hide such suspicious remarks from their partner. The affinity to play games appears enhanced through the faceless medium as it allows one to carry on communication with a large volume of partners. 

While there are both negative and positive consequences, the influx of apps and articles offering advice on e-dating suggests we must learn to best use this type of communication, as it is here to stay. After taking an informal poll of friends, here are the “do’s” and “don’t’s” guide your textual relations:

8. DO send random pictures/thoughts about your day or something that made you laugh. This lets the person know you are thinking about them and is especially important for long-distance relationships. Even sending a picture of him changing the oil in his new car brought a smile to my friend’s face while keeping their bi-coastal conversation light.

7. DON’T send non-committal texts in the courting phase. “Let’s get a drink sometime” typically annoys more than excites. In a wise friend’s words, “Grow a pair and put a date on the calendar.” Ladies, this applies to you too — don’t think you’re exempt from being a straight shooter; it will only be read as more confident on the receiving end.

6. DO send flirty texts to your partner. These make one’s significant other feel confident and let them know you are thinking of them. Just try to stick to your natural style — if texting a picture of your mouth saying “stop thinking about my sweet lips ;)” sounds cheesy to say aloud, it probably doesn't come across any sexier via text. See here for more ideas.

5. DON’T send anything explicit. Even if you trust someone, anything sent via text now is subject to much more public viewing later. Enough examples are out there for you to find a deterrent of your own.

4. Dialing or typing under any type of influence: Just DON’T. No good comes out of ever taking this road. You may think you sound extremely witty, but gibberish is probably only making your ex laugh or continue to ignore your nonsense. Even Apple thinks this is a bad idea. Trust general opinion — taming this habit is truly worth your time.

3. DON’T text someone “I live to see you,” especially after one date. But really, just don’t ever use that line.

2. DON'T ever text: "let's catch up soon." As if texting weren't already the most non-committal mode of communication, let's throw a vague "soon" into the mix. No thank you.

1. DON’T use texts to pick fights or send a snarky message. If you’re upset and sending what you think is a biting or passive-aggressive text, chances are this is not even the way it’s being interpreted. Either way, no one feels great after being petty — pick up the phone and be an adult. 

General rule of thumb: If you truly care about the person you are texting, it remains most respectful and beneficial to leave all important matters for face time.

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Perry Nagin

After working as a middle school science teacher in Manhattan, I worked in research at the International Trauma Studies Program as well as in the Pediatrics Department at NYU/Bellevue. I am currently a medical student at Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia.

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