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Dating Guide

What Did They Mean by This Text Message?

How to respond to a text with a potential boyfriend or girlfriend without looking desperate or saying the wrong thing.

Texting and calling in the beginning of any relationship can be nerve wracking. How do you begin a conversation? How should you respond? How do you do these two things without looking needy or saying the wrong thing?

Depending on how long someone takes to text back, we make decisions. We decide if the person is playing games, if they’re at work, or they just don’t care.  All iPhone owners are aware of the dreaded three dots that pop up when the other person is typing. These dots can make you crazy. Back in the day, it used to be OK for someone to take a few minutes to think and respond, but now it means they aren’t interested if they don’t instantaneously reply.

Texting is full of problems:  You have to assume the person will read the text  (not just skim over it) and pray they understand the context of your message. One golden nugget piece of advice: Limit the number of words and questions you put in a single text. Six months ago, I began a test: I sent two questions within the body of a single message to several people. Guess what? Only one of the questions (usually the first one) would be answered.

People aren’t paying that much attention and if we aren’t savvy to this, we may just think they are bypassing the question, sidestepping, or just being rude. Actually quite the contrary, most people never read the entire text.

With texting we put ourselves on the line because we can’t rely on normal verbal cues. That’s why it’s painful when we ask someone what they’re doing and their response makes it seem as though they are intentionally leaving us out of their plans. It’s important to frame our reality in a way that doesn’t make us look desperate. Flip “I’m not doing anything” to “I’m taking care of work” or “Just catching up from a busy week.”  Don’t stand by and watch life happen; instead create your life, make plans, and make things happen.

This is my advice: Stop relying on technology to move your relationship forward. Texting and email can be difficult to decipher when we read too much or too little into words. What we really all want is to hear that person’s voice. Actually picking up the phone and talking to the person offers much more insight than waiting on a text response. When you call someone, you can hear their sound, pitch, and inflection and this usually gives us more information on the situation. And if you’re just not a phone talker, cease worrying if what your text is right. Just be honest and be yourself.

Ashley Berges is a Dallas-based life coach, family therapist, and syndicated radio talk show host of Perspectives with Ashley Berges, which can be heard on 570 AM KLIF and 660AM KKSY.

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