When you match with someone on a dating app who seems cool and you’re making plans to hang out, texting is a foregone conclusion given that it’s the main way we all communicate. However, if it’s been weeks and you’re blowing up each other’s phones but haven’t even made plans to meet in person, you need to nip it in the bud. Texting too much before a first date leads to what Logan Ury, author of “How to Not Die Alone,” dubs “The Monet Effect,” and it drastically reduces your chances of finding meaningful connections.
What’s the “Monet Effect,” anyway?
If you grew up in the ’90s or early 2000s, chances are you’ve seen “Clueless” more times than you can count. And if so, you’ll no doubt remember that scene when Tai (RIP, Brittany Murphy) and Cher are talking about Amber, and Cher issues what’s basically a terribly high-brown burn, saying, “She’s a full-on Monet. It’s like a painting, see. From far away, it’s okay, but up close it’s a big ol’ mess.”
This is what inspired Ury to apply the “Monet Effect” to dating, specifically the result of texting too much with someone you hope to eventually have a real-life relationship with. In essence, the more you message each other, the more you begin building an idea of what this person is like in your head, filling in all the blanks that you can’t possibly know anything about since you’ve never actually met them face-to-face with flattering details that turn them into your dream partner. Sadly, when you meet up in person, you usually realize, “Hang on a minute… this person is nothing like I thought they were” and you end up disappointed.
It’s far too easy to fall into this trap, and it’s one of the biggest reasons you should be making plans to meet up in person within a couple of days. By taking your relationship into the real world ASAP, you get a real feeling for each other so you can accurately assess chemistry rather than constructing an idealized version of them that’s probably very far from the truth.
However, the Monet Effect isn’t the only reason you should avoid getting into a texationship before going on a real date.
Why texting too much before a first date is so harmful
- It’s way too familiar. You have endless chats over text with your BFF about the latest episode of HTGAWM. It’s just plain weird to text day and night with a guy you haven’t even gone on a first date with yet. Unfortunately, you think you’re bonding with this person and getting to know them… but you don’t know them yet. They’re still a stranger to you. Keep it that way and then meet them in person and decide how you feel.
- You run out of things to say. If you’re texting your boyfriend when you’re both at work during the week to stay in touch, that makes sense and is cool. But if you’re texting someone before the first date, you will 100 percent run out of things to say on your in-person date. And that’s a recipe for disaster, as anyone who’s been on an awkward first date knows all too well.
- Any connection you feel is false. Online dating is super tricky. You’re trying to figure out whether someone is the right one for you based on a handful of photos, descriptive paragraphs, likes and dislikes, and messages. No wonder you get a headache every so often and take a break from dating. It’s easy to feel connected to a guy when you’re having a seemingly amazing conversation over your iPhones. After all, we’re millennials and used to talking to someone this way. But you might not feel the same connection in person which is all that matters.
- Beware of 24/7 texters. You know the ones. They ask “How was your day?” and “What are you up to tonight?” and want details of every moment of your day. At first, it seems sweet that they care but eventually, you realize they want a texting relationship rather than a real one. This is especially annoying when you have a moderately good first date and then the guy keeps texting you yet never mentions going out again. It’s usually best to just move on.
- It’s okay to want to be old-school. Any notion of romance may have been replaced with Netflix and take-out but that doesn’t mean you have to jump into a relationship super fast just because the guy wants to talk to you all the time before your first date. It’s totally fine to say “I think it would be best if we just meet up on Friday and see if there’s an in-person connection.” If the guy is annoyed, well then you know you don’t even want to go on the date at all.
- You could end up getting Catfished. Almost every single Catfish episode deals with someone funnier, more playful, and more interesting over text rather than in person. Your data may not be pretending to be a different person – his pictures and name and job may be real – but he could be stoic and cold when you meet him. Sadly, it’s pretty normal for someone to seem completely humorless in person even though they captivated you with their witty and clever text messages.
- You need emotional intimacy. If you’re looking for a committed relationship, you want someone who can express themselves in person. That’s not a wild request. If someone is more used to talking over text messages, they’re probably not great at expressing themselves. That’s not good news if you want some emotional intimacy with someone you’re dating (and if you want someone to say “I love you” to your face).
- Texting is the grey area of dating. Are you even seeing each other? Are you just hanging out? Are you just talking? It’s smarter to save the endless texting sessions for someone you know likes you. It’s fine to text a lot with someone when you’re meeting up in person regularly, but if that’s not happening, you’re just going to be left in limbo.
- It’s time-consuming. Let’s face it: we all want to meet someone, but we don’t want to spend all our time focusing on dating. It’s tiring and can end up being a huge waste of time if you get your hopes up before you even know them. You’re a busy woman and have a lot on your plate. In other words, you have better things to do than spend all your spare time texting.
What should you be texting about before a first date?
- Ideas for what to do/where to go Regardless of who’s making the plans, texting about what to do when you get together is not only normal, it’s kind of a necessity. You don’t want him dragging you to a basketball game when you hate sports, nor do you want to take him to an Indian restaurant when he hates the cuisine. Part of the fun of preparing for a first date is planning it together, so feel free to chat about this via text.
- Keeping in touch if the date is a few days away It’d be super awkward if you planned your date on a Monday but it wasn’t happening until Friday and then you just… didn’t talk all week. Radio silence between you in those few days can kill whatever spark you have and can lead to things fizzling out. It’s a good idea to check in from time to time to say hi, ask how his day was, and other little messages that show you’re thinking of him.
- A few flirty messages You’re trying to find a romantic partner here, right? If you’ve met a guy you’re attracted to (or think you might be attracted to once you meet up in person), you want to keep things fun and flirty. Sending a few cheeky messages here and there can not only show that you’re into him (and hopefully he’s reciprocating!) but it can also build anticipation for your date.
- Questions that determine compatibility While you can make the mistake of texting too much before a first date, that’s not to say that you shouldn’t text with him at all. Small talk is important and you won’t be able to figure out how you feel about him if you don’t have any conversations. Using texting to find new things out about each other is a smart way of doing things, so don’t be shy to ask him fun questions — and be willing to answer them in return!
- A bit about your days Sure, you don’t need to tell him that you got a grilled cheese sandwich for lunch or that your computer shut down on its own — that’s boring and he probably won’t care. However, sharing anything interesting or different that happened in your day is another way to keep the conversation between you alive and moving forward until you meet up for your first date.