You meet someone new, exchange numbers and then the conversation starts. This happens often – whether you first connect through an online dating site, over social media, through a friend or during a night out on the town. And, dear friend, don’t get me wrong – swapping numbers with someone you feel chemistry with is a great way to get the ball rolling. The problem really happens when that’s as far as things go.
This is what a lot of people these days are referring to as the “texting trap.”
Let's start by defining a texting trap: Text messages are exchanged, there’s some great conversation, but things never move to the offline world. Days turn into weeks and weeks (sometimes) even turn into months – all without a real, offline face-to-face. You begin to feel more and more attached to the person on the other end of the phone, but you haven’t had any "real" experiences with one another. So, if and when you do eventually meet, it can be difficult or even disappointing.
To help you avoid the texting trap and keep on moving in your quest for true, authentic love, I encourage you to employ the following strategies:
1. Use Texting for Quick Exchanges, Not Lengthy Conversation
I recently read an article in which it said, “texting is information, not conversation” and I think that point couldn’t be any truer, particularly in this context. Text messaging is a fast and efficient way to exchange information – like the address where you’ll be meeting or to confirm that you’re still on for tonight – but it’s not replacement for phone conversation or in person discussion.
Let's put Tip #1 into real-life context. You receive the oft-sent, “how was your day?” text.
While acceptable, I’ve seen this question/answer combo go on for weeks as a "connection replacement" to actually meeting in person.
Don't fall into the trap! Reply with a bit of information about your day (not lengthy), but also add how it would be nice to meet for a cup of coffee, or a quick bite of lunch in the coming days. Continue employing this strategy (quick, friendly response + offer an in person meeting) each time you hear from him/her. However, if weeks go by and the texting trap remains, politely let the other party know you are glad you connected but you’d prefer to chat in person, as texting isn't your preferred mode of communication.
2. Text as Your Authentic Self
Something I’ve noticed people doing lately is creating online (or, in this case, on the phone) alter egos. They text differently than they’d talk in real life. They often use different words, act much more playful and avoid expressing their real opinions or wants for fear of not coming across as laid back and fun. There are two major issues with this practice. The first is that, when you do meet up offline, your authentic personality isn’t going to match up to the alternate persona you’ve been using in your text messages. The second is that you’re not showcasing your true, genuine self. So, the person you’re meeting up with might end up feeling tricked or, worse, you might feel as though you have to continue the charade or even have anxiety about meeting offline because you realize you haven’t been yourself. Sacrificing who you really are and what you really want is no way to kick off a new relationship.
3. Avoid Being "Too Available"
If you grab your phone and reply the moment you see a new text notification pop-up on your screen, I would argue you’re making yourself a bit too available. The person on the other end (who you haven’t even met offline outside of your initial meeting I remind you!) is going to start expecting an immediate response from you every single time, which not only sidetracks your life (work, family, driving!) but I often see it lead to misunderstanding and/or resentment.
The problem with coming across as overly available is that the other person may begin to expect constant availability, accommodation and acceptance. You also can get addicted to the adrenaline rush that goes off every time you hear a “ping!”
And did I mention this "ping" you are addicted to is from a person you’ve never spent any real time with?)
Go ahead and answer straight away if it’s something like confirming your date for tomorrow night, but be wary if he/she is continually trying to engage you in conversation without in-person plans.
4. Have a Deadline and Stick To It
When you meet an interesting new person online (or in-person) and exchange numbers, give yourself a personal deadline. Ask yourself, “How long am I OK texting without actually speaking on the phone or setting a date to meet up?” I suggest no longer than a week and I strongly encourage you to stick with it. Avoid making excuses for him/her, don’t let yourself be OK with it should the other party routinely cancel or postpone. Respect yourself and your time by holding him/her accountable.
Does he/she cancel last minute or always need to “check the schedule,” and then you never end up setting a date? If so, it’s time to cut em' loose and carry forward. I totally understand that life happens, people’s schedules are busy and things come up but unless he/she is cancelling and then immediately suggesting a couple alternates, then you're getting the run-around.
To your authenticity,
Christine Hart, Relationship Mentor + Couples Coach
For more information on Christine, click here.