Advice and Insights for Modern Daters

Unwritten Rules of Text-iquette

What are the “unwritten rules” of texting that will lessen your chances of being ghosted? Alli and Jen give suggestions on how to keep conversations flowing for even the busiest of texters.

Q. I’m a 22-year-old part time soldier and screenwriter. My jobs keep me pretty busy, so I like to text as a passive form of communication. The thing is, girls seem to lose interest quickly when we text, probably because I’m constantly working and only respond when I get a minute. Am I doing something wrong? Are there unwritten rules for texting? If so, what are they?

Trevor, 24, San Diego, CA

A. Part-time soldier?! We didn’t even know those existed! And a screenwriter? Hats off to you, sir. We understand that you are working on some pretty important things. Here’s our advice: make communication important, too.

The problem with texting overall is that it’s too easy to use unintentionally and without purpose, and it’s not as effective (or satisfying) as face-to-face conversation. Rambling, mediocre texts are a dime a dozen, so make yours worth something more. Think quality, not quantity. And use texts to make a connection, not to just pass the time. Here’s how to make your romantic texts count:

Lead with something catered to the person you’re texting, preferably something that makes them smile or laugh, and weave in a question. On Hinge, for example, the profile prompts are designed to give people something specific to talk about. That’s the kind of conversation you should be going for — tailored and unique.

Our advice is always to think about how you want to make the other person feel, then act accordingly. You want the new boo you’re courting to feel special and desired, so show interest in something specific to who she is. “Your Star Wars footie pajamas are my new standard for how to be a boss. Where can I get some of those?” is a great way to get a conversation flowing.

Good spelling, syntax, and grammar are sexy. A lot of people revert to “middle school yearbook talk” when texting: “gr8 ur coming over l8ter.” That’s great, but we don’t want to get in bed with that. Lax language make it looks like you don’t care, which makes a girl’s vajajay close up faster than Usain Bolt crosses the finish line. So, stay concise, but be thoughtful with language. Use your words to reel her in, and don’t start a conversation that you don’t have time to have.

Good text banter is like ping pong: it’s fast and you shouldn’t let the ball drop. If you say something cute to her and she responds with something equally as clever, it’s your turn. Don’t wait 8 hours or you risk her losing interest in the game.

If you need to put down your phone and go to work, that’s fair. Just give a simple heads up: “Off to work. Enjoy the day.” It takes a few seconds to compose that and saves the person on the other end hours or even days of wondering where you went. These days, communication is so fluid and constant that people do expect a response within 24 hours, unless you said you’re busy.

So start looking at romantic texting as an art that requires attention, not just more small talk.

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Allison Goldberg & Jen Jamula are the creators of two live comedy shows — Blogologues and How To Break Up By Text — both of which look way too closely at online dating, and now they’re here to share with you all the things they can’t unsee. Their work has been featured on Good Morning America, in WIRED, Forbes, VICE and more, and at one point Time Out NY ranked them among the top ten funniest women in NYC — but they were ranked as one person. Send questions to Alli and Jen at


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