Ask Wendy

What’s Reasonable in the Texting Phase?

Friday, February 24, 2017
woman looking at her phone as men won't stop texting
Hey Wendy, 

This week, I've been texting a guy who reached out to me online. We had all sorts of fun, teasing texts earlier in the week, with mentions of possibly getting together for a quick drink and Hello on Thursday. Well, time passes with no word from him after Tuesday. Finally, at 5:00 PM Thursday, he texts me like no time has passed. I'm cranky.

Question: I really hate feeling ignored, and yet I know I've never met him, and he's not in love with me, and, aside from all that, he's leading a busy life. What's reasonable to expect in the texting phase?

Stephanie E. — San Francisco, CA

Hey Stephanie,

Online Dating Lesson #1: In order to stay happy and sane as an online dater, hold zero expectations until you’ve met your connection face to face. It’s kind of a good rule for life in general, too—if you haven’t met someone, you can’t trust them for anything.

Train a little part of your brain to say to you, “this could be a twelve-year-old girl I’m texting,” because hey, that’s actually plausible. Or you might be sending sexy texts to a guy twice your age who has no intention of ever meeting you but is lonely and bored in his marriage. It could be someone who’s housebound who flirts via text to pass the time. These scenarios are all as plausible as him being the awesome, busy guy that he bills himself to be.

I vote we change the term “internet dating” to “internet connecting”because you’re not really “dating” online; you’re just gaining access to people you wouldn’t normally run into in your real world. The actual dating happens out in the cafes, the restaurants, the parks, the bowling alleys—not online. It’s why I stress taking your online connection offline and into the real world right away. I know you were already trying to do this; I’m just throwing a reminder out there for the readers.

You have every right to be irked; I know I would be if someone said, “Let’s meet Thursday” and then didn’t make a plan to follow through. My suggestion for next time is to text Wednesday night and say, “Hey, what’s the plan for tomorrow?” This is what we do when we make plans with friends.

And for this one? Even if he is exactly as he appears on his profile, you’ve now gained new information about him in the data collection process. What did you learn? He’s flaky. He’s not count-on-able to keep his plans with you. He’s already shown you disrespect and bad judgment. I’d throw this one back into the sea, and know this: It ain’t you, it’s him.

Happy dating.


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