Oh, the dreaded double text. It doesn't feel good to send, and it doesn’t it feel good to get. (Except when it's from your dreamy crush, and you were just busy at work.) If you feel confident in your relationship, double texts are probably no big deal, but if things are a little more up in the air, double texting tends to be more stressful. It might sound silly, but there's always a tiny power shift when one person has to text the other twice in a row — which is why Maria Avgitidis, CEO of matchmaking service Agape Match and host of the dating podcast Ask A Matchmaker, advises against following up after your text goes unanswered. “If they haven’t texted you after you text, unfortunately, the ball is in their court and they’re going to dictate when they respond to you,” Avgitidis explains. And, according to her, no response is a response.
Just to be clear, when I talk about double texting, I don’t mean a stream of drunk texts sent at 3 a.m.. That's called a "tequila oopsie," and can be resolved with a major apology (and handing your phone to your DD the next time you go out). What I’m referring to typically happens during the early stages of dating, when a lack of reply within a normal timeframe makes you consider sending out a second text message.
As someone who is guilty of not replying to texts promptly, even when they are from people I like, I do believe that there's a world in which a double text is appropriate. Avgitidis gives one example: “They’re at work and can’t have their phone. Sometimes, people look at their text messages on their Apple Watches and think, I’ll respond to this later, and then completely forget to respond.” In those instances, double texting can actually be a helpful reminder. On the other hand, Avgitidis says, “if they’re not responding to your text message in the evening after work, then it just means you’re not a priority. You’re on the back burner.” Harsh, but helpful.
Still, there are some extenuating circumstances that make this blur this line, and make the question of “should I double text?” trickier to answer. There's a fine line between confirming your interest and coming across as overeager.
Here are seven questions you should ask yourself before even thinking about... dare I say it... double-texting:
1. How Long Has It Been Since You Last Texted Them?
An hour? Three? Before sending a follow-up, take a beat.. We're all busy humans with different schedules that make constant communication a challenge (and you probs don’t want to date someone overly available anyway). Yes, you can (and should) care about the person you are dating, but you do not need to start calling local hospitals after a few hours of radio silence.
Of course, if this becomes a habit, and it continues to make you uncomfortable, it might be worth addressing. Ask yourself: When was the last time you left a text they sent you unanswered for a while? Maybe they’re just playing hard to get. Games are the worst, but patience is a virtue.
If a couple days go by and they’re still leaving you on read, you can consider reaching out to make sure they’re alive.
2. What Did Your Last Text Say?
If your last text to them was something like "I had fun too, thanks," you shouldn't expect anything right away. (Also, if you really want a response, try incorporating more questions into your messages.)
Even if you were chatting about something more involved, some people don't like to text all day, every day. Conversations require pauses. It's natural. Try waiting a day before sending them a funny article you found. (Just not this one.)
Basically, before you write them off as a ghost, give them a chance to redeem themselves. The exception to this rule is if they go AWOL on a day you have plans together. If that’s the case, feel free to double text the sh*t out of them. Right away. That's totally legitimate, and there are no rules about figuring out plans. (But, just an aside, you deserve someone who makes and keeps plans with you.)
3. How Long Have You Been Dating?
Have you only gone out once? Twice? On the first couple of dates, you are both figuring out if you like each other. So, an unanswered text at this stage shouldn’t be too devastating. These things happen. Maybe they’re just not interested, which can sting. But you’re probably not that invested in them anyway. If this situation sounds familiar, sending a double text might have the potential to make you feel worse.
If you have been dating for a few weeks or months, it's a completely different story. By now, you probably know their texting patterns, and you should feel OK double-texting them. At this point, there's no need for games.
And If they are freaked out by a double text a month in? Good riddance. You just saved yourself a lot of time spent agonizing over cryptic responses and evasive texts.
4. Were They On Social Media Since Your Last Text?
If you see him liking a bunch of IG models’ pictures on your Instagram feed, or she sends you a Snapchat while out with his friends, with no regard to your text from three hours ago, you're allowed to be a little annoyed.
Honestly, there are a million explanations as to why they haven’t replied (like, it's easier to double-tap a photo at your desk than it is to check your schedule and then craft a text about when you can hang out), but still, come on.
At this point, the choice is yours — double-text and get clear on what their deal is or take this as a warning sign you may not be their priority at the moment.
5. What Are They Usually Doing At This Point In The Day?
They could just be out for a run, grabbing a bite to eat, or stuck in a work meeting. All completely legit excuses. But an unanswered text can make you a little angsty, especially if it was sent to someone you are crushing on hard.
See if you can zoom out for a moment to gain some perspective: Could they be busy at work? Could they already be asleep? Did you forget about their phone-free yoga class?
Even if you have no idea what they’re up to, give them (and yourself) a break. Just because they replied immediately to your texts this morning does not mean they can keep it up all day long. There are plenty of reasons they could be slow to reply, and, even without an excuse, they have the right to some text-free time.
6. Do You Feel Like They’re About To Ghost You?
Let's call this sense of pre-emptive ghosting a gut feeling that they’re on their way out.
You know when someone is slowly backing out of your life. They’re slow to reply, the ratio of texts sent by you to texts sent by them is on average 4:1, and you're pretty certain they haven’t been kidnapped.
If you've been dating for a while, the next move is yours. You could let the unanswered text go without acknowledgment, but that's kind of like giving them a free ticket to ghost-land.
And, in all honesty, even if you try to keep things "chill" and don't send a double text, you'll probably still stew over the situation, wishing you knew where they stand. IMO, the waiting game isn't worth it. If you want a straight answer, you need to be direct. Send a text asking for clarification: "Hey, I hadn't heard back from you, are you around this weekend?" Either they’ll respond and explain, or they’ll leave you on read. Either way, you’ll get your clarity.
7. What Do You Want To Do?
Choosing whether or not to send a double text can be nerve-racking. Believe me, I've been there — drafting texts carefully in my Notes app, copying and pasting them over to the Messages app, and feeling my quivering thumb hesitate to press send on the double text. It can be easy to get caught up in the drama of the moment, but, remember, at the end of the day, it's just a bunch of words in a gray bubble on a screen. So do whatever makes the most sense to you.
If you really want to follow up with someone, throw out the rules. Double-text them. Triple-text them. And if you want someone who is more responsive, and who takes the initiative to text you more often, recognize it might be time to let this person go.
Texting can easily become a crazy game of misread signals and unclear vibes. So before deciding to double text someone you've been seeing, it's important to ask yourself these questions: How do you feel about this person? Do they deserve your energy? What is your gut telling you to do?
If you want to hang out with them again, and sending a double text is no sweat off your back, go for it. They’ll probably be impressed by your initiative. If it's been a month or two, and their lack of replies is becoming a pattern, double-text with confidence and figure out exactly what their agenda is.
Be honest with yourself about what you want, and you'll know exactly what to do.
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