5 Rules of Text Etiquette

Get those thumbs under control, would you?


The other night, I had a decent conversation with a guy from OkCupid* ... but I wasn't completely engaged. I found myself a little bored from time to time. But since the guy had a number of hot pictures up with his profile, and because he came across as smart, chivalrous and accomplished, I figured meeting up with him for a drink might be worth it.

BUT THEN ... (cue the plunking piano noises) !

Then, the next morning, he sent me a text that basically repeated a joke he'd made the previous evening. And that was enough to put me over the edge; I decided I wouldn't go out with him.

Call me fickle and you wouldn't be off-base. But the three innocent little sentences he sent me by cellular served as proof enough for me to find him guilty of not being worth any more time.

Now, I don't like men who play hard to get. But I also find myself easily irritated by men who text or email too much. (It's like: I'm writing a very important blog here! Could you please stop interrupting!) In fact, I'd much prefer for men to lay off the texting (and emailing) ALMOST ENTIRELY--except for the occasional sweet nothing that doesn't require a response--until we're in a serious relationship. Otherwise, the electronic communications can either cause me too much irritation or too much anxiety.

So ... in the spirit of giving the men out there some insight into one (admittedly slightly off-kilter) woman's mind, I'm going to suggest some basic rules of text etiquette.

1. Do NOT text a woman after you've spoken to her on the phone but before you've met for the first time in person, in the spirit of "keeping the conversation going." It can come off as a little desperate or needy when I get a text from someone I haven't actually met saying Did you sleep okay? How's your day going? To me, that doesn't seem sweet or caring as much as slightly pathetic, borderline creepy--sorry to say. If you must, I think it's fine to make a simple complimentary declaration, along the lines of I enjoyed talking to you last night, and I'm looking forward to meeting up. But don't go much beyond that. And don't say to me, But what if I'm bored? What if I have nothing better to do as I wait for my train?

If you need to find some way to occupy yourself, may I suggest you take up smoking?

I'm kidding, about the lung cancer. But seriously: control yourself, you text maniac.

2. ONE EXCEPTION TO THE RULE: You CAN text after speaking and before meeting ONLY to make a hang-out plan, or to discuss the details. Generally speaking, it's always okay to text to pin down a date, time or place to meet, no matter what point you're at in the courtship.

3. If you like a girl, ALWAYS text the day after the first date. Again, I think it's best to stick to a simple declarative compliment, like "It was great meeting you. It'll be nice to hang out again soon." Then wait a day or two before emailing or calling to set up the next date. That way, you reassure her and express your interest, but you also give her some room--and make her all the more eager to hear from you.

4. ALWAYS text the day after the night when you've first had sex. I know I'm old-fashioned, but I think the ball is firmly in the man's court the day after his balls have been firmly pressed against her nether parts. And if you make NO effort to communicate the following day--you Man you--then I'm going to go out on a limb here and say you're a douche bag.** If you've decided you don't like her or you two don't have chemistry or whatever, address that directly; please, for the sake of human civilization, don't give her the silent treatment after the two of you have engaged in the most intimate human act.

5. NEVER break up with someone via text. If you've been out with someone enough times that you feel it's necessary to tell her you don't want to see her any more--whether that means you two have gone out on five dates, or three--have the decency to call or send an email, at the very least. Especially if you've had sex. Especially if you think you're going to hurt her feelings. Texts are so terse that they somehow feel much more rude, and more jarring; an email is a little easier to stomach.

(Ladies, will you weigh in to let the gentlemen know whether or not you agree--or simply think I'm craaaa-zee? Post your thoughts here or get hyper-interactive by checking out my Facebook fan page)


*Peeps: I think I need to post, before long, on the best sites for meeting singles. If you have thoughts on all this, please let me know. Is Match best if you're serious?

**What is proper douche bag spelling? Is it one word or two?