Bad Texter, But Great In Person? Here's How To Handle It


Asking for a friend: is there an antidote for terrible texting? Maybe a crystal to rub on your fingers a la Spencer Pratt? Shock therapy? OK, fine, I'm asking for myself. I operate on two levels when it comes to texting: effusive paragraphs or one word answers. (I'm a bit of an iMessage dick.) In real life, however, I'm a generally chatty, articulate human. In 2017, is it possible to be a bad texter, but great in person?

Now that I've posed a banal question in true Carrie-Bradshaw-dating-column-style, I'll follow up with some self-examination (minus the Manolos). When it comes to my own habits, I can admit that I'm definitely a terrible texter, but I'd like to think that I am a decent person. I volunteer, I'm generally punctual, and my friends seem to like me. Perhaps my text voice simply doesn't match my real voice?

When it comes to the modus operandi of others when it comes to texting, I'm far less generous. Because I'm a raging hypocrite, when I receive a succinct, emoji-less text, I immediately think, "Where are this person's manners?" And then, soon after, "Are they mad at me?"

The most mind-boggling circumstance of all? When a person you are crushing on is the most flirty in person, but then texts you later in the same tone that I imagine Vice President Mike Pence uses to text women who aren't his wife. (Side question: Does he allow himself to text women he's not married to?)

I spoke to April Masini, a relationship and etiquette expert and founder of a relationship advice forum, about what makes someone a "bad" texter and if that necessarily reflects on their personality IRL.

First Off, What Makes Someone A "Bad Texter"?

There are three indicators that make someone a "bad texter," according to Masini: impulsive texting, texting at inopportune times, and not texting. OK. Let's break that down, because I feel like I've done all three.

You know the feeling of stubbing your toe? Your first reaction is to scream, "F*ck you!" at that table that got in your way. Wait a few moments, and the pain is a distant memory. That's sort of a good metaphor for impulsive texting.

"When one or both of you texts without thinking, prepare for miscommunication, hurt feelings and messes to clean up," says Masini. Hot tip: adult beverages promote this kind of behavior, so take an three minutes to decide before sending when you've knocked a few back.

Texting at inopportune times is just rude. "It’s putting your needs ahead of your partner’s and it’s inconsiderate," says Masini. If your crush doesn't necessarily know your schedule yet, though, cut them some slack. Maybe they just want to see what you're up to this weekend.

Also, bad texters sometimes are simply just non-texters. Getting ghosted via text hurts, even if the person on the other end simply forgot to reply. You immediately know you aren't all that important to them after all. "When someone doesn’t respond in a timely manner, and disappears during the text layer of the relationship, they create a lot of anxiety and hurt feelings," explains Masini.

But Can You Be A Bad Texter And Still Be A Cool Person?

Yes. And I am the example! Just kidding. But let's be real: the way a person texts you does not always indicate the entire scope of their personality, or their feelings for you. In fact, I typically delay my replies to my biggest crushes as a way to seem "chill." (Yes, you can eye-roll me.)

"There are people who are more comfortable behind a screen than they are in person," says Masini. For those "good texters" out there, flirting might come more naturally via messaging because they get nervous in social situations. On the other hand, Masini explains that some people are just bad writers. "These folks can be very easy going in person, but when it comes to texting, they’re lazy and gauche," she says. (As a writer on the internet as well as a terrible texter, I'm not sure what category I fall into...)

At the end of the day, it's entirely possible that the person you are crushing on is an awesome human being with a Nobel prize, excellent jokes, and the ability to make homemade barbacoa tacos who likes you very much but will still text "Yeah" when you ask them, "Are you excited for our weekend upstate?!"

In a weird, but very telling example: my dad, who is an excellent communicator in real life, often texts me "k." I've had to explain how mean that text truly is to him, but he still does it. Overall, you need to decide if the bad texting is something that's truly getting in the way of your relationship, or if it's something you might be reading into.

"If your partner exhibits texting behavior that transfers into unfortunate real life behavior in other arenas, reconsider the character of the person you’re dating," says Masini. Basically, if your bae is texting like a jerk, and then also checking out other women at the bar on your romantic weekend trip away together, then maybe say, "Boy, bye."

If you're just dissatisfied with your cutie's text voice, and love spending time with them in person, trust your gut. Romeo and Juliet didn't have iPhones, after all. (Though maybe that would have prevented their deaths.) Either way, keep calm and text on.

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