It is too often we put our best foot forward in relationships only to pull it back at the first unanswered text or the first suspicious (i.e. hot) “new friend” on our new mate’s Facebook page. Quickly we go from sexy, confident, and intriguingly mysterious to the insecure stalker we all know and hate. And then, we’re single again.
If the nuances of texting are so powerful against me, then I realized that would mean I could harness their power and use it to my benefit. Dating has always been a kind of game, but now we have weapons in our pockets that we use thousands of times per day. I had never realized that, like a superhero, I was armed and ready to launch a revolution of my own. Before I knew it, I was a fucking pro.
Rule #1: Use One Avenue, not Three.
For some mysterious reason, many of us have tricked ourselves into thinking that if we text and email and IM and message someone on Facebook, it only amounts to 1 mode of contact in our recipient’s head. 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 = 1? Is your life a George Orwell book? No. That’s four messages! We all check our phones 150 times per day. Your recipient got all of them. Perhaps he or she was busy before and planning to find a free moment to text you, but now he or she is dreading responding at all. Which should he or she even address? If you’re texting, stick to text. If email, stick to email. Nobody likes a pest.
Rule #2: Stop the abbreviated disclaimers.
My friend Keryn once told me that I needed to be more careful with my text messages. Whenever I wasn’t sure if my joke was funny, or if I thought she was mad at me, I would always insert a “ha” or an “lol” after my sentence. “I feel like you’re annoyed at me today ha.” Or “That girl is basically Margaret Thatcher on stilts, lol lol” This came off as insecure and weak. Ever since she said that, I have noticed other people doing it too, and it’s true. Read over your texts and if you feel the urge to end them with a disclaimer like ha, lol, hehe or any emoticon denoting laughing, then you should either get some confidence and send the text on its own. Or don’t send it at all. That is always an option.
Rule #3: Oops, sorry, wrong person.
You’re realizing this person is actually everything you want, but they suddenly seem less into you. But it’s not over. One of the most dependable aspects of the human psyche is that we want what we can’t have. Next time you’re texting back and forth with your new girl (or boy), in the middle of the conversation, send a link to a new restaurant, wait 15 seconds, then type, “Ahh sorry, not for you.” Typing something like “8 is fine, see you there” is too obvious. But a simple link is an innocent mistake. Now even if they don’t say so, they’re wondering why you’re going, when you’re going, and who you’re taking. That night, they’ll likely send you a text. Don’t answer it. Have a good night and go to sleep. Nice job.
Rule #4: The Read Receipt.
Finally. The read receipt. Many of us don’t turn it on or even know we have it/ how to use it, and thus will never learn its true power. If you have an iPhone, go to Settings and then click on messages, and turn on your read receipt. This allows others using iMessage text to see when you’ve read their message. Seeing that someone has read your message and is not responding is a feeling we all know and spend our lives hoping not to experience again.
My favorite way to harness its power is in the midst of text fight. Text fights are like no other. Responses are quick-fire back and forth and little thought goes into each electronic dagger. Neither person is actually listening to the other, so it is nearly impossible to win a text fight via solid argument – it must be won by method. So, in the middle of a text fight, turn off read receipt and stop writing. The person on the other end will wonder: what is she doing? What is more important than dealing with this? Does she not care? Why doesn’t she care? Stay strong. Don’t respond. Just like that, the fight will be over. Either an anxious phone call will make its way to you or the fight’s speed and chaos will be broken as the other person begins to text Where are you? Hello? And then: Look I’m sorry… Either way, you’ve won the upper hand. It’s over. Victory.
Kim Stolz is the author of Unfriending My Ex, And Other Things I’ll Never Do, coming soon from Scribner!