Texting relationships are unique to 21st century dating. Imagine telling your grandparents that you sent an x-rated photo of yourself to your future husband to get off on before you met in person. It might give them a heart attack. The world has come a long way since your grandparents were exchanging chaste love letters, but there are reasons to follow their restraint if you want to avoid the dreaded texting relationship. Here’s how to do it:
Meet in person as soon as you can. If you meet online through a dating app or social media, it’s easy to fall into the trap of endless texting since it’s the medium that you first use to connect. But you can avoid this with a little discipline. Instead of getting caught up in the excitement of a new person, set a hard limit for how much time you spend texting before asking them out for an in-person meeting. If they don’t want to meet you IRL, you know they aren’t serious.
Have sex before sexting. Sexting before you actually have sex with a person is risky, and not just because you can’t trust internet strangers with personal photos. It’s bad enough seeing the difference between how people look in their photos and how they look in person. Taking that to the realm of sex opens the door to a whole new level of catfishing and allows both of you to present yourselves in ways that are impossible to live up to. This will make you both reluctant to meet in person because you’ll feel inadequate and self-conscious about showing your real selves. Waiting to get sexually intimate until you’ve met in person will ensure that you don’t get caught up in phone sex.
Only do long distance with someone you’ve been dating for a while. A lot of people use dating apps to hook up while traveling, but if you want a more lasting relationship, it’s better to avoid matching with these people. Long distance partnerships can work, but it’s rarely possible when you start out that way. To really get to know someone, you have to put the time in. No amount of zoom calls or long-form texts can compare to the magic that happens when you’re together.
Save your heart-to-heart conversations for dates. There’s a temptation to get intimate quickly when you meet someone online. It’s easy to share personal details when you’re curled up in your bedroom typing on a screen. You can find yourself texting things to a complete stranger that you haven’t even told your closest friends. In these situations, you might feel like you know everything about each other before you actually meet, which takes the motivation out of taking things into the real world. This is the classic setup for a texting relationship. To avoid it, save the personal chat for your real life first meeting.
Be unresponsive. You might have every intention of keeping things casual and light over text only to have the other person dive straight into their life history and romantic aspirations. Do what you can to discourage them from getting too deep. The best way to do this without seeming cold or disinterested is to change the subject or ask them to meet up. This will show them that you’re interested but not willing to carry out an entire first month of dates over text. Some people will be turned off by this, but they’re the ones who don’t want real-world relationships anyway, so you’re not missing out by losing them.
Invite them out regularly. When you meet online, you have to do some preliminary texting so you can decide whether you want to meet in person. This should take hours, not days, and in some cases, it only takes a few minutes. Be proactive about asking them out. Don’t wait for them to make the first move. And if they don’t seem ready at first, wait a little while, and then ask again. At some point, it will be clear whether they’re serious or just wanting a texting buddy.
Tell them you don’t want a texting relationship. One of the simplest ways to avoid a texting relationship is telling the person up front that that isn’t what you’re looking for. Everyone’s been stuck in an endless messaging vacuum with someone they’re interested in. They’ll get it. If they don’t, they are definitely a text-only-and-forever type of person.
Be prepared to put the time in. Some people fall into texting relationships because they miscalculate the level of investment that a real-world relationship requires. Logging onto an app or striking up a conversation in your DMs is effortless. You might have a fleeting thought when you’re hanging out by yourself at home that it would be nice to have someone there with you, only to realize after you’re texting with someone that you don’t actually want to go to the hassle of going on dates. If you don’t want to get caught in a texting relationship, make sure you’re ready to invest the time to make it something more.
Show you’re serious by walking away. Another common reason people end up in texting relationships is that they don’t respect themselves enough to walk away. If you meet someone you really like, cutting things off just because they avoid meeting you in person feels hasty and unnecessarily painful. Why not just wait for them to fall madly in love with you? This hopeless optimism is what keeps people in limbo for years and prevents them from finding happiness. Don’t be one of those people.
How to spot someone who only wants a texting relationship
One of the reasons you might fall into a texting relationship is because the other person isn’t serious about wanting to date. They just want someone to talk to or sext with without having to make things official or even spend time with you in person. Here’s how to spot someone who isn’t serious about you.
They only text on their terms. They’re available when they’re in the mood to talk, but they’re monosyllabic and formal when you reach out to them. People who want texting relationships are usually uncomfortable with real intimacy, so they spill their guts to you as a form of selfish catharsis and then act as if you’re intruding if you try to continue the conversation when they’re not in an emotional crisis anymore.
They leave you hanging. People gravitate toward texting relationships when they want emotional support but don’t want to offer any in return. They are fully present when they need to dump their baggage on you, but silent when you try to lean on them for anything. When you want to talk, they are mysteriously absent.
They avoid seeing you IRL. The single clearest sign that someone isn’t serious may seem obvious, but people miss it all the time so it bears repeating: if they avoid meeting you in real life, they are not serious about you. You can come up with a million excuses to justify their behavior, but if a clear pattern of avoidance emerges, you can conclude that they’re not interested in a real relationship. It’s that simple.