Texting and Dating: How to Navigate Relationships in the Digital Age

Tips for knowing when it's okay to send a message and when you should talk face-to-face

Dear Monica, How do you know when texting is becoming too much? — O.S., Center City

Texting can be a great way to enhance budding relationships. In this day and age, imagine having to wait until two busy people can actually sit down with a phone just to say a quick hello. Texting has made communication much faster and easier. It has become the way to touch base when you have just a minute to spare. You can always tell the person who is in a new romance. They are the ones laughing and smiling while looking down at their phone!

That said technology has truly changed the way we communicate with love interests. Below, you’ll find a primer on how to navigate the high-tech dating world.

How do people have meaningful conversations in this plugged-in era? Texting has become the 21st-century way to court and woo. Yes, it is a great way to drop a quick note to whomever you are dating (or longing to date), but know that texting can never replace the directness of a good, old-fashioned phone call.

A good rule of thumb is this: Asking someone out for the first few times should be by phone. But don’t be standoffish if a guy texts you for a date or if the woman replies with a text. The rules are all gray with no clear line in the sand. Like everything else, you need to communicate your preferences, but be flexible enough to go with the flow. Do not view a text response as impersonal. Given its convenience, texting has become the method that most people use to be in touch. The trick is to use texting as a prelude, saving the intimate conversations for candlelit dinners and alone time.

When flirting via text message, you should keep it light. Try some witty banter in between the times when you can connect in person. How else do busy professionals let a lunch date know they are running late? Texting can also be a way to make each other feel special during the long workday. Long, dull meetings can certainly be made more tolerable with the Blackberry and iPhone in hand. Send a breezy “thinking of you” message or, if you’re comfortable, try the “can’t wait to get my hands on you tonight” text.

Never try to have serious conversations via text message. Avoid using your cell phone for relationship talks, feuds, concerns, or breaking up. Anything personal, sad or heavy is a no-no in the world of texting. Knowing when to switch to basic face-to-face is key. One has to be able to set boundaries when texting and know when the conversation is just too involved for textings limitations.

The bottom line is about effective communication: The way to take the lead in a relationship is by communicating. No one is a mind reader. Don’t be so intense, abrupt, or annoyed when those whom you date text you. They asked you out so they must have some good judgment and smarts to them.

Monica Mandell, Ph.D. is the Director of the Philadelphia office of Selective Search, the premiere (off-line) upscale matchmaking firm for the most eligible singles. Please send your questions to: monica@selectivesearch.com