I am currently seeing two guys — a good texter and a bad texter — and it makes all the difference. To me, healthy texting in a relationship is integral to fostering trust, emotional intimacy, and chemistry between you and your partner. But what distinguishes one type of texter from the other? The question of how often a guy should text you in the beginning of a relationship has no objective answer. Your communication style with your new partner, girlfriend, or boyfriend really just depends on your personal tastes. And when it comes to texting during the early stages of dating, the frequency of messages (should you text every day?) matters less than how they make you feel — valued and content or underappreciated and confused.
Of course, you need to be talking with some sort of regularity in order to drive the relationship forward. Otherwise, it's hard to develop a connection with someone. But a simple “good morning” every day won’t cut it. For example, the good texter I'm seeing asks me how my day is going, remembers our conversations from earlier and refers back to them, and sends me cute videos and photos of himself at work. He is engaged in a way that lets me know he's thinking of me even when we're not together, and it's allowing me to develop feelings for him. The bad texter... well, not so much. He only texts me sporadically, and when he does, it's brief sentences and one-word answers. It’s not malicious, but it definitely does not bring us closer together. And it sometimes leaves me wondering where I stand with him.
Although it’s true that how your partner treats you IRL is what really counts, texting is a form of communication — and figuring out ways to communicate effectively is a huge part of any healthy relationship, even ones that are just starting out. “Checking in via text is vital to all relationships,” Meredith Prescott, LCSW, tells Elite Daily. “Texting can be used in relationships almost like an appetizer. It’s not sufficient enough to fill you up but enough to get things going and get started,” Prescott continues. But what does that kind of dynamic look like? Here are some healthy texting habits in a relationship that signal you're on the right track.
You Don't Text Obsessively
While texting all day, every day is certainly fun, especially in the beginning of a relationship, it's definitely not sustainable. This constant texting style can be an indicator of codependence rather than actual interest. It’s not exactly uncommon either. Dawn Maslar, author of Men Chase, Women Choose previously told Elite Daily. "When a person falls in love, research has found that his or her serotonin drops to the level of someone with OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder). This [can] cause the person to feel obsessed. This may lead to over-texting."
To be clear: Being overly available via text is not a good look. It can even be a red flag. Whenever someone is constantly texting me, I start to question what the rest of their life looks like for them to have so much time and energy to spend on texts. Do they have their own hobbies and interests? Do they just text at work all day? Why aren’t we saving some conversations for our actual dates?
When you are first starting to talk, experts actually recommend that you keep texting in moderation. "If your relationship is new, minimize your texting," Dr. Cristina Bosch and Dr. John Robinson, owners of The Hormone Zone, told Bustle. "It's so easy to misinterpret the tone and intention until you get to know one another. Instinctually you know that you can't really 'read' someone through texting and a virtual channel."
Along that same vein, while communication is important to fostering a relationship, excessive texting creates a false form of attachment that isn't based on real-life contact, which is what we actually need to figure out whether or not people are right for us. So text in moderation, and hang out more in person. Even a simple text like, “We should talk about this over dinner” can remind your SO you want a relationship, not just a texting buddy. “You can further elaborate in person about whatever it is you’re texting about,” Prescott adds, explaining how to make this transition more seamless. Although the all-day chatting can be fun, this kind of subtle reminder can help both you and your partner maintain some much-needed independence.
You Both Initiate Texting Conversations
Have you ever decided to stop texting someone and then realized, when you don't hear from them, you are the person always initiating conversation? It stings, but this kind of experiment can help you see your connection (or lack thereof) more clearly. You never want to be the sole person driving the relationship forward, and you definitely do not want to be asking yourself: If I hadn't kept texting, would this person have ghosted me a long time ago? If that is the case, it’s time to take a step back.
You deserve a partner who could not go a day without texting you, and it’s worth it to wait for that. “It is never OK to just accept the bare minimum from someone; it's called settling,” Dr. Lesliebeth Wish, a licensed clinical psychotherapist and founder of LoveVictory.com previously explained to Elite Daily. “Stand your ground and clear space for the real thing!”
When both partners love each other equally, it’s going to show up in their text exchanges. They probably go back and forth initiating conversations. They're also more or less contributing the same amount to the conversation (i.e. one person isn't texting a novel, while the other just responds "cool!"). This kind of mutual and reciprocal texting is a sign of a healthy relationship.
Your Conversations Have Emotional Depth
Remember the bad texter I mentioned before? Yeah, he has never asked me how my day was. He pretty much only contacts me for plans or to tell me what's going on in his life. And although I love hanging out in person, I do wish that IRL connection translated more to his texting habits. As is, I don't feel comfortable texting him to tell him how things are going. I wouldn't confide in him that I'm feeling stressed out or hit him up to tell him something funny that I just saw.
To be fair, texting has a lot of different purposes. Some people are “not texters” and prefer phone calls or FaceTimes. Others would rather only use their phones to make in-person plans. But texting can also a great tool for actually getting to know someone — especially when the relationship is new. You can send pics of yourselves in between dates to keep the chemistry alive (sexting or otherwise), and you can become one another's emotional support on days when you're not together in person.
If your communication habits are out of sync, a conversation could help you two feel more connected. “Since the tone of texts is often unclear, you may want to talk to your SO about their texting,” Prescott explains. “If you both are on the same page or understand each other’s texting style this can help clarify any miscommunications.” Instead of getting offended by their texting habits, try to understand them a little more.
Even that, however, might not be sufficient to bridge the gap between your communication styles. In a healthy relationship, you have chemistry in person and when you're not together, whether it be via text, on the phone, or on social media.
You Don't Question Yourself Before Typing
You know when you question every single thing you say to someone, editing texts over and over before hitting send? Sometimes, you'll write something and then delete it several times, trying to figure out which version of your sentence is best, funniest, or sexiest. In the past, I've used group texts with my friends to workshop messages I wanted to send to my crush. Sometimes, the game gets even more complicated than that. I’ve even set my timer to wait an hour before responding to a text.
Well, to no one’s surprise, those habits are ~seriously~ unhealthy texting behaviors. In an adult, reciprocal relationship, you should not feel the need to question yourself before hitting send. But the blame may not lie with your partner. These kinds of patterns have more to do with your relationship with yourself.
When you're self-confident and have high self-esteem, you won’t put as much stock into worrying about what someone's reaction to you will be over a simple text. You’ll say what you want, when you want, and trust that the right person will respond fairly to it.
When you're developing a relationship with someone, you should hear from them on a consistent basis. It should feel predictable and comfortable for both of you and for your lifestyles. For some couples, this might mean a few texts per day. For others, it might mean speaking a few times per week. As long as you communicate your expectations, you should be able to figure it out together.
And no matter what your preferred texting style, in a healthy relationship, no one should experience that anxiety-ridden "waiting by the phone for your partner to call" feeling. When the feelings are mutual, contact with your crush or SO should not devolve into a point of stress or unease. You should feel confident they’ll reach out to you. And if they haven't yet, you shouldn’t second guess texting them first.
The easy advice is this: If the texting in your relationship is healthy, you won't be questioning it or reading into it. It sounds so simple! But, in reality, overthinking can break down even the strongest connections — and it’s especially common early on. Melissa Divaris Thompson, LMFT, a licensed marriage and family therapist, told Bustle. "It’s totally normal to be excited and anxious about a new potential relationship," she explained, "but overthinking can also lead to its destruction."
When texting in a new relationship, a certain level of overthinking is expected. It means you care. And it won’t last long: If what you have is a good thing, you’ll make it past this stressful stage pretty quickly. If not, maybe you just weren’t meant to be, but that just means you can be on the lookout for a better texter soon.
Meredith Prescott, LCSW
Dawn Maslar, author of Men Chase, Women Choose
Dr. Cristina Bosch and Dr. John Robinson, owners of The Hormone Zone
Dr. Lesliebeth Wish, a licensed clinical psychotherapist and founder of LoveVictory.com
Melissa Divaris Thompson, LMFT, a licensed marriage and family therapist
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