The Rules of Texting: 5 Dos and 5 Definitely-Do-Nots

This may be hard for anyone under the age of 30 to remember, but back in the day, texting wasn’t included in your cell phone plan. It actually cost somewhere around five cents to send or receive one, a sum that quickly added up if you got too chatty. Needless to say, people got super specific about texts – receiving an “OK” made your blood boil, since it was an absolute waste of money. However, once texting plans were unleashed and unlimited texting became a thing, you no longer had to ask someone whether or not their plan included such luxury. When you were in a relationship, knowing whether or not your significant other had a texting plan was vital.

Of course, every positive has a negative, and some people just don’t know what they’re doing. Are you making the mistakes that make your boyfriend cringe? If you’re too afraid to ask him in person whether or not your cell phone rambles drive him crazy, here are a few general dos and don’ts that’ll set you in the right direction.

  1. Don’t talk crap. A text with “hey” is just stupid. You want to have some kind of opener, like “Hey — did I leave my hairbrush at your house?” Not only are you guaranteed to get a response quicker, but you’ll also remind him that yes, you totally slept at his place the other night. Besides reclaiming what’s rightfully yours, an invitation might follow, like “I think you did! Want to come over later to pick it up?” Drawn out text conversations are pretty annoying in general, so make every text count and don’t beat around the bush.
  2. Don’t sext with someone you just met. Chances are, you don’t know them well enough to know what turns them on and what creeps them out. Since text messages are an amazing outlet for vagueness, you should probably wait until you’ve actually established your relationship before branching out into sexy territory. Also, regardless of the relationship span, remember that pictures are forever.
  3. Just started dating a guy? Keep it light. Use actual dates to truly get to know someone. As Jessica Day found out in the very first episode of New Girl, sending someone seven texts before a first date might say that you’re a little too eager — and you don’t want him to take advantage of that. The pre-date texts should be a confirmation of the time and place, or your address if he’s picking you up. A smiley face or two won’t hurt. Also, overdoing it through technology might make someone fear that you’ll be as overly chatty in person, and everyone wants to get a few words in during these initial romantic moments.
  4. Don’t drag him into a group chat. The only thing more annoying than a group chat is being invited into a group chat when you don’t have an iPhone. The group chat is the “reply all” of your social life, and having the opportunity to partake in such a dangerous project is bound to lead to a few mortifying “Did he actually say that to the group?” moments. Your guy isn’t too interested in all of the private jokes you have with your friends, and he’s bound to get annoyed by the notifications. Even if it starts out as a minor, innocent way to let everyone know where the party is, it’s bound to escalate to an obnoxious territory.
  5. Always send a thank you text the morning after a really good date. If you had an amazing time with someone, make sure they know it, regardless of how long you’ve been dating. Something simple like, “It was great getting to know you! Want to schedule another time to go out?” will show your intentions immediately. Be strong, and don’t wait around for some guy to make the move. In cases like this, texts are much better than phone calls. If this is your fifteenth date, something sweet like “I always love spending time with you, thanks for dinner last night!” will boost the confidence of your LTR guy.
  6. Check the time before you type. It’s midnight on Tuesday night, and chances are, he’s asleep and isn’t in the mood to answer your pressing question about which Beethoven films Charles Grodin starred in, or whatever other trivial topic is on your mind. Save your small talk for after he’s had a dose of caffeine the next morning or later in the afternoon, when you’re both wanting something to break up your work day. The weekend doesn’t change things –  there’s a better chance you’ll be drunk, and only remember sending the texts while trying to piece together what happened last night. Drunk texts are the new drunk phone calls, but with drunk texts, you have visible proof of your shame.
  7. Stay calm if he doesn’t respond immediately. Chances are, he just got distracted. Or he’s driving. Or he’s not the kind of guy who has his phone in his pocket throughout the entire day. This kind of behavior definitely happens at the start of the relationship (it’s natural!), but if you trust the guy enough, it shouldn’t be happening when you’re a few months in. If it does? That’s a dealbreaker, ladies. Without trust, you’ve got nothing.
  8. Don’t judge his typing style. Sure, you have permission to laugh at it silently or maybe make a lighthearted joke about it during a date, but there’s a chance he just doesn’t text too often, or thinks that that’s how everyone types. Maybe that’s how he texts with his guys, and he doesn’t see anything wrong with it. Just because he’s still set on typing “U” instead of “you”, and “2” instead of “two” doesn’t necessarily mean he’s a bad guy. That is, unless his text is “Do U Want 2 rob a liquor store?”
  9. If he’s having a bad day, get creative with animated gifs. Sometimes they cover more ground than the typical emoji, and surely they’ll make him smile. Personally, the day I found out that you can text animated gifs was probably the best day I’ve ever had. Ever. It changed my texting game to the extreme, and I’m pretty sure a well-planned gif can brighten up anyone’s day.
  10. Don’t, and I mean DO NOT EVER, pick a fight through text. Friends, this is pretty much the key element of those bad-text-comedy sites I mentioned earlier. These never end positively, and so much can be misconstrued through text. If you actually like the guy you’re dating, bring up the problem face to face. Through text, something simple like “Why didn’t you wash the dishes?” could turn into much more than it truly is. If you pulled him aside and said something like, “Hey, next time could you possibly wash the dishes before you leave the house?” you get your point across without sounding super accusatory and evil.  People get into fights all the time, but a text fight could lead to a messy breakup really quickly.
Karen Belz is a New Jersey native who is currently living in Maryland. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Speech Communication with a focus in Broadcasting and Print Media Studies from Millersville University of Pennsylvania. Since graduating, she has written for sites like LittleThings, HelloGiggles, and Scary Mommy and is currently an e-commerce editor at Bustle.

When she's not writing, she enjoys making her phone run out of memory after taking too many photos of her dog. You can find her on Twitter @karenebelz or on Instagram @karenbelz.