The beginning of online messaging with someone new can be incredibly exciting and fun. You may wonder who is behind the computer or phone, and if you will actually meet this person in real life. You may read into the messaging exchange as you look for signals of interest, chemistry, and connection. You may feel antsy or anxious as you read into the little things, such as your match’s use of emoji’s and punctuation, or if you pick up on changes in communication, response time or reply length.
While messaging may be fun and the attention is appealing, it’s important to remember that online messaging or texting is not the same as dating. Taking the conversation offline is a major step in cultivating a meaningful relationship and determining if you have a real connection. Texting or messaging alone is not enough. Over time, messaging without meeting can do more harm than good by creating unrealistic expectations, fantasies, and a false sense of connection with your match, who at this point is still a stranger.
How can you be sure you aren’t wasting your time messaging with someone who has no intention of meeting or seriously dating you? Here are eight signs you are stuck in the messaging phase with no end in sight — and it may be time to move on:
1. You are doing all the work to keep the conversation going. The getting to know you process is a two-way street. If you are the one who is driving the direction of the messaging and your match is not asking you any questions about yourself, it’s likely your match isn’t genuinely interested in getting to know you. Analyzing the reasons why and giving yourself a hard time about this is not worth your energy. Move forward with matches who are willing to engage and put the work into their dating lives.
2. You are receiving very brief replies. Replies exhibiting little thought and minimal word count obviously make it hard to ignite a connection. Receiving one word answers or replies lacking personality, enthusiasm, and effort is not conducive to getting to know someone and determining if a first date is worth it. First, do your best to engage your match by asking more open-ended questions. If your match is simply doing the bare minimum in your messaging exchange, it may be time to move on.
3. Your match’s response time gets longer and longer. A change in response time is a concrete sign that interest may be dwindling and your match is bound to disappear (or come in and out of your life with no serious intention of getting to know you). Life is busy and it’s healthy to not be glued to your phones or computers all day, but putting in some effort to keep a conversation going is essential. Try not to freak out if it takes your match a couple of hours or a bit longer to respond, but if it suddenly takes days or weeks to hear back, your online relationship is going nowhere.
4. Your match avoids asking you out, or doesn’t answer you directly when you bring up meeting. As I’ve mentioned in my previous article on how to determine when to meet in real life, people have different preferences and comfort levels when it comes to the timing of a first date, but it does help to meet sooner than later. If communication goes on and on for weeks without any mention of a date or you are ignored when you bring up meeting, your match probably has no goal of actually taking things offline. Side note: If you ask for a date early on in messaging and your match says something to the effect of wanting a longer conversation online or a scheduled phone call first, this is okay. Most likely these are signs that your match needs a bit more to feel comfortable meeting. This situation is different from a match who completely ignores your question, cancels and reschedules on you a couple of times or avoids meeting you in another indirect form.
5. Your messaging lacks chemistry. If your messaging exchange doesn’t take off and there is no banter, flirting, playfulness or fun, it’s likely your match isn’t putting in the time or energy to develop rapport with you. Receiving robotic replies or messages that feel scripted or forced may mean your match simply isn’t available to connect emotionally. Look for signs that your messages are progressing in depth and consist of flirty and engaging language that sparks chemistry.
6. The conversation is purely sexual in nature. Compliments are okay, but if messaging is a constant stream of sexual innuendo or pick-up lines, it’s important to believe your match is looking for something along the lines of sexting or causal sex. If this is not what you are about, it’s time to exit the conversation. Often the attention and interest is appealing and it can be challenging to walk away from, but keep your eyes on your relationship goals and know you are deserving of what you want. Hint: Build an emotional connection in person prior to having sex and then let real sex happen before simply sexting with someone you don’t know.
7. Your match is always busy. Having time to message you constantly, but not to meet you face-to-face is a red flag and another indication that things are going nowhere. This is also a bad sign if you’ve been on a first date and hear from your match post-date over an extended period of time with no acknowledgement of a second date or excuses about being too busy.
8. Your match fits the profile of an online dating scammer. As much as I hate adding this sign, it’s an important safety check and online dating tip. If your match asks for money or favors before meeting you, comes off in crisis mode, sells you a dramatic story or immediately tries to get your contact information, please take note and be smart! Other signs include someone saying they are working abroad and need money to meet you, giving rambling detailed stories or asking invasive questions.
By knowing the common signs that you are being strung along or someone simply likes flirting with you online, you can make intentional choices about pacing, timing of meeting and which matches to pursue and who to let go of for your own benefit. Remember to put your goal of a loving relationship over your need for attention or a confidence boost to ensure you are not wasting your precious time messaging someone who can’t offer you what you are ultimately looking for.
About the Author:
Rachel Dack is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC), Nationally Certified Counselor and relationship coach, specializing in psychotherapy for individuals and couples via her private practice in Bethesda, Maryland. Rachel’s areas of expertise include relationships, self-esteem, dating, mindfulness, anxiety, depression and stress management. Rachel is a co-author to Sexy Secrets to a Juicy Love Life, an International Bestseller, written to support single women in decreasing frustration about single-hood, leaving the past behind, cultivating self-love and forming and maintaining loving relationships. Rachel also serves as a Relationship Expert for http://www.datingadvice.com/ and other dating and relationship advice websites. Follow her on Twitter for more daily wisdom!