Is there anything more stressful than sending the first text when you start talking to someone new? There’s nothing quite like that pressure of striking the right balance between playing it cool while still expressing your fun, bubbly personality. I get it, which is why I’ve pooled together years of experience in the dreaded ‘texting stage’ and how to thrive in it. For those of you that don’t understand how the internet has changed the dating landscape or what the correct etiquette is for when to reply, here’s how to win a guy over via text.

Start slow.

I know that you might be tempted to show off your dazzling personality from the get-go, but make sure that you’ve at least said hello first! I know this sounds old-fashioned, but there’s nothing less genuine than sending a cheesy pick-up line. Or worse, something which is obviously copied and pasted from another chat. Allow a few introductory messages first in order to get on first name terms. Next, start weaving in the magic of your personality. This will stop you overthinking things and it takes the pressure off those first interactions. Nothing is worse than a try-hard when you know nothing else about them.

Don’t be afraid to use memes and emojis.

Once you’ve survived those tricky opening notes, it’s time to whip out your … personality. Do whatever feels natural. Find a way of being creative and showing that you’re putting effort into the conversation. That’s the beauty of gifs too, they can add nuance to even the most basic of messages. Not only that, but it allows you to show your killer sense of humor and provides an easy way to carry a lagging conversation. Lighthearted and fun!

Text first and say what you actually mean.

This piece of advice is perhaps the most important and the one we’re all likely to ignore. I know all the clickbait articles want to convince you that there’s one magical universal trick to dating, but it takes practice and you really have to be yourself. Otherwise, the person will fall for the version of yourself you think THEY want, and that doesn’t serve anyone. Give yourself permission to be honest about who you are. Dating shouldn’t be a game that you can win or lose with a single text. This goes for the guys too, by the way – you need to know how to woo girls over text!

Spice it up.

Get your mind out of the gutter. This might sound daunting to newbies, but don’t be alarmed. While sending provocative pictures works for some – and it certainly is efficient and effective – there are other ways to step things up in a relationship. The goal is to get their attention and develop the talking stage beyond shallow “how was your day” questions. This can be achieved by playful, focused conversations when you ask personal questions. Even a quickfire round of Would You Rather or Never Have I Ever gets things going. Hey, if it was good enough for the eighth-graders in the ’90s, it’s good enough for us now.

Commit to the ‘good morning’/’goodnight’ texts.

This might sound a little contrived to the more cynical people among us, but trust me. It’s only a chore if you don’t mean it, and surely if you’re committed to getting to know this person, you’re hopeful of a future with them. For such a simple gesture, it gives the relationship so much traction. The power of waking up to a good morning text cannot be underestimated because it means that you were the first thing on their mind when they woke up. That’s pretty special, and no one can tell me otherwise.

Don’t be afraid to leave them on read, but don’t ghost.

This is an important distinction. If you’re still ghosting people you’ve been talking to for months in the year 2021, it’s time to stop repressing your emotions. I know it’s hard and awkward and uncomfortable, but it’s a common courtesy. You would want to know, so the person on the other end of your text deserves to know too. It doesn’t mean that you owe anyone an immediate response all the time, though. Just because we’re often accessible on our phones shouldn’t mean people can expect your constant attention. Space is key when attracting guys, and each relationship is different. Make sure you leave him long enough to realize he misses you. This is where it’s helpful to have a group of friends on board to regulate your impulse to reply within three minutes to the guy who left you on read for four days…

Practice basic response etiquette.

Try to answer messages within a range of 20 minutes to two hours if you’re serious about a person. That’s ideal. Any more than a day between responses and you’re not having a conversation, you’re throwing stones into opposite ends of the ocean. Again, strike the balance between keeping it casual while also giving yourself time to explore. Don’t restrict yourself to talking to one person at once when you first start talking. You’ll pick up more skills and learn more about dating culture and what texting tactics work best for you rather than putting all your eggs in one basket. It’s a great way to learn simple things like what not to text a guy.

Avoid embarrassing typos.

This is a final piece of advice and I’m taking things back to high school with this one. Grammar! I’m not talking about writing a five thousand word essay littered with semi-colons and thesis points here, but it’s worth waiting three seconds before hitting send to scan for embarrassing mistakes. This is your first impression, after all. There’s only so many times he will find it endearing that you can’t get your ‘they’re’, ‘their’ and ‘there’s in order…

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