Back in the day, most relationships began face to face. That may have limited the dating pool, but at least you were able to get a decent read on someone right away. Today, so many of our relationships begin over text, and while the advent of the internet and dating apps means it's much easier to meet a ton of people, we have also had to learn a whole new dating skill set, including being able to recognize red flags while texting someone to help screen for weirdos. Knowing someone’s toxic texting "tell" can save you a lot of time and potential heartache.
Like just about everyone, I read and was instantly obsessed with "Cat Person," a fictional short story published in the New Yorker, because I felt like it was practically my biography. The details of my own experiences weren't exactly the same, but the spirit? Oh yes, that was painfully familiar. For those who haven’t read the story, it’s about a young woman who meets an awkward older man, and the two develop a relationship over text, where she begins to invent a whole new person while ignoring the red flags. It culminates with a bad sexual experience and a breakup over text that, predictably, doesn't go well.
In hindsight, all she needed to know was in his early texting behavior. Rather than focusing on that and cutting him loose, however, the protagonist found ways to justify the behavior. Been there? Yeah, same. But it doesn't have to be that way. Here are eight things you should think about next time you start texting someone new to know if they are even worth your time.
1. All Their Replies Are One-Word Answers
If you're texting with someone new and all of their replies are one-word answers, or they used to text you longer messages and have recently become monosyllabic, that’s a red flag. Either this person is not that into you, or they aren't able to carry on a conversation. Either way, your best bet is to send them on their way.
2. They Want To Know What You're Up To All The Time
Do they always seem to want to know where you are and what you're up to? At first, this may seem sweet and like they have a genuine interest. But if you feel like you are obligated to check in with someone you just met and are not in a relationship with... run. This is likely the sign of someone who is either insecure or controlling.
3. You See A Typing Bubble For Hours But No Actual Message
So, this is a thing, apparently. Guys will start to text you, so it will look like they are replying, and then, they'll intentionally set their phone down for an extended period of time. It's a PUA (pick-up artist) strategy to "neg" you over text. On its own, it's clearly lame, but more importantly, it’s a sign of a larger misogynistic dating philosophy that, trust me, you want no part of.
4. They Get Passive Aggressive When You Don’t Text Back Immediately
If you are texting someone and get interrupted for a few minutes, only to come back to your phone to resume the convo and discover a nasty "I guess you’re busy"-style text, that’s a big ol’ red flag. What that says is that you're probably dealing with someone who is insecure and passive aggressive.
5. They Punish You With Silence
Another sign you’re texting a passive aggressive person is that they just go silent on you as punishment for not replying fast enough or not saying what they want to hear. If this happens, don’t fall into the cycle with them.
6. They Only Text You Late At Night
Come on, you know what this is about. If you’re just looking for a hookup, then great. Proceed accordingly. But if you’re hoping for something more, this isn't your person.
7. They "Miss" Your Messages For Hours Or Days
Um, sure they did. We are all way too attached to our phones to miss messages for days. Maybe for a few hours during the work week or if they are doing some activity that keeps them from their phone. But someone who is regularly "missing" your messages needs to be given a miss.
8. They Never Text You First
Conversations are a two-way street. If you are putting in all the work and effort to initiate the conversation or keep it going, you're better off just letting them go. You deserve someone who is just as eager and excited to get to know you as you are about them.
Do any or all of these seem awfully familiar? Don't rationalize it away "Cat Person"-style. The sooner you recognize the problem and deal with it, the sooner you will be available to meet someone new and better for you. And when in doubt... block.
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