How To Be Flirty Over Text Without Being Cringeworthy

No matter how tech-savvy you are, flirting into a blank screen doesn’t come naturally to most people, which is why you need a few rules to live by. Here’s how to be flirty over text without being cringeworthy.

  1. Keep it short. The longer your text, the more room there is for embarrassment. If you keep it short and it falls flat, it just looks like you tossed off a message without much thought. If you send a 15-line message and it falls flat, it’s difficult to reassure yourself that you hadn’t thought about it very carefully. A 15-line message is also, by nature, a clumsy attempt at flirting because flirting is about banter, which requires an ongoing dialogue. The shorter the text, the easier it is for them to respond.
  2. Put yourself in their shoes. Don’t go down the rabbit hole of trying to figure out what’s going on in their head. You can’t know, and composing your text based on what you think they might think when they read it is going to drive you insane. Instead, think about what works for you. What kind of text would you like to receive? Would the text you’re thinking about sending make you cringe if you were the recipient?
  3. Be suggestive, not obvious. As with length, obviousness leaves more room for embarrassment. Suggestion is sexy. It leaves plenty of room for imagination and subjective desire. It’s also a great way to test the waters to see whether the other person is even comfortable flirting over text. If you say, “I am desperate to rip your clothes off right now” (or something more explicit), a person who feels awkward about sexting will freak out. If you say, “I can think of a lot of things I’d rather be doing right now,” you give them the freedom to meet you at whatever level of flirtation they’re comfortable with.
  4. Take a hint. If they are uncomfortable (or disinterested), they probably won’t say so outright. They’ll brush you off with a smiley-face emoji or “haha.” If this happens, don’t push. They are politely telling you that they’re not interested in picking up whatever you’re putting down. Don’t be embarrassed or angry with yourself. Just recognize that it’s about them and not you, and start communicating with them non-flirtatiously. (Also, consider not communicating with them at all, because anyone who doesn’t enjoy flirting is no fun).
  5. Compliment them. Sparingly. Two of the most ubiquitous pieces of flirting advice are seemingly incompatible: give lots of compliments, and play hard to get. But when done strategically, you can strike the perfect balance. Complimenting them once or twice over text will make them feel good about themselves and full of warmth and gratitude for you. That gives you the perfect opportunity to back off on communication for a little while. They will be in full chase mode.
  6. Avoid lapsing into fluent emoji. When you’re struggling to come up with a clever line, it’s tempting to rely on emojis to get your point across. But this will do you no favors. For one thing, it prevents you from coming up with a genius pickup line, and for another, emojis are difficult to respond to except with other emojis. This leads to texting exchanges that devolve into hearts and eggplants and purple devils but never actually communicate anything except general horniness. Flirtation thrives on personality, not clichés. If you only use emojis, you may as well be an AI girlfriend downloaded onto your partner’s phone.
  7. Use humor. Sincerity is a buzzkill when it comes to casual flirting over text. You have to be at least half an hour into a rapid back-and-forth before you can deploy stone-cold earnestness. If they’re not hooked already, humor is your best weapon. It will show them that you’re not taking things too quickly and are looking to have some fun. Seriousness can be intimidating (and cringeworthy), while humor is infectious.
  8. Capitalize on your physical assets. Sending unsolicited nudes can be disastrous (and amount to sexual harassment), but it can also be a hundred times more effective than even the most magically constructed sentence ever could. If you’re comfortable sending a suggestive photo or even just a sweet selfie of your smiling face, you don’t need to waste your time trying to figure out what words sound appropriately provocative.
  9. Avoid the dreaded triple text. Sometimes you won’t get a response right away. Don’t panic. Don’t try to do damage control. You don’t know what they’re thinking or even if they’ve read the text. Just because they haven’t responded doesn’t mean your message missed the mark and you need to fix things by trying to start a different conversation. As a general rule, do not send more than two messages without getting a reply. Triple texting is a bad look. It makes you seem insecure and unoccupied. The best way to retain your self-respect is to not overreact.
  10. Under-analyze the heck out of their lack of response. Flirting is much easier in person because you are constantly receiving feedback. Even when you don’t get a verbal response, you’re still picking up nonverbal cues such as facial expressions and body language. With texting, however, you have no way of knowing what a person’s silence means. You can either analyze the lack of information to death, or let it go until you are physically with the person and can make informed conclusions. The first option will tear your mind apart. The second will make you free and unbothered. I know which one I prefer.

Why people don’t respond when you’re being flirty over text

“Letting go” of a person’s silence is obviously much easier said than done, so why do people ignore flirtatious texts? Here are some possibilities:

  1. They’re busy. The minute you hit send on a sexy text, you will feel like that text is the most important thing happening in either of your lives, but your partner may not agree. They may be legitimately busy and not have time to look at their phone or respond adequately to your text. They may have read what you sent and are so turned on and excited that they want to wait until they can give it their full attention. Sometimes, a lack of immediate response is an indication that your text was even more effective than you’d hoped.
  2. They rarely look at their phone. Some people don’t carry their phone with them everywhere. They leave it at home when they go out for groceries or keep it in a drawer in their desk throughout the workday. Getting familiar with your partner’s phone habits could save you a lot of self-doubt. Their lack of attention has nothing to do with you, they just don’t look at their phone very much.
  3. They’re intimidated by you. One of the risks of being too good at flirting over text is that it paralyzes the other person. You’ve set the bar so high that they’re afraid that anything they say in response will come across as cliché, lame, or inarticulate. They want to flirt back, but they don’t know how to. This is why it’s always good to start on the mellower end of the flirting spectrum. You want to be irresistible, but not so irresistible that the person is terrified of losing their opportunity to impress you.
  4. They’re not interested. The worst-case scenario is that the person reads your flirtatious text and doesn’t respond because it does nothing for them. This is a painful and humiliating position to be in and is all the more reason to be subtle, funny, and sparing at first. If they’re rejecting a short, playful message, it will hurt a lot less than if they’re rejecting a paragraph in which you declare your undying love. If they aren’t interested, don’t blame it on your texting skills. If you’re not right for each other, it has nothing to do with you or your methods of seduction.
Rose Nolan is a writer and editor from Austin, TX who focuses on all things female and fabulous. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Theater from the University of Surrey and a Master's Degree in Law from the University of Law. She’s been writing professional since 2015 and, in addition to her work for Bolde, she’s also written for Ranker and Mashed. She's published articles on topics ranging from travel, higher education, women's lifestyle, law, food, celebrities, and more.