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Are Texting and Dating a Recipe for Relationship Disaster?

Modern dating has a lot of positives. We use the internet to meet people we would never be able to otherwise meet. (It’s how I met my husband!) It also creates complications we never had before, particularly with texting and dating.

Texting and dating definitely isn’t just for 20 year olds anymore. As The Dating and Relationship Coach for Women over 40, I hear endless dating dilemmas that are created by texting. Here’s are a couple examples of many:

“Sue” connected with a man online. He instantly started texting her. He sent her pictures of his son’s baseball game and told her about his day at work. She told him about her car trouble and he told her to come to him for help next time.

Then they had a coffee date. It went well. They “talked” (texted) all day for days. He complimented her and made her laugh. He told her how busy he was and she felt flattered that he was keeping in touch.

After two weeks the texts tapered, and then he stopped responding. She asked me, “I thought he was so into me. What should I do???”

“Melissa” stayed up until 3 AM texting with her dude. They had one date three weeks prior, and since then, they’ve only been texting here and there. But it is so romantic, she told me. She is falling for him. They have no dates planned…he doesn’t even bring it up.

Texting has complicated dating and relationships, particularly for those of us who did not come of age using this as our primary communication tool. Here is some straight scoop about what texting usually means and doesn’t mean. And, most importantly, I’m going to tell you how you can take control of the situation – like a grownup!

1. Texting is dating…not really.

Do not assume that getting a bunch of texts from a guy means you are having a relationship. You’re not even dating. If a man is choosing to only text or primarily text, it’s not likely he wants to get to know you in any meaningful way. Sure, you can assume he’s having fun flirting with you. He’s feeling entertained and he’s enjoying your responsiveness. Or maybe he’s just enjoying being able to talk about himself.

I agree that he wouldn’t be spending time communicating if he wasn’t somehow attracted. But if he’s solely texting, he’s either not looking for a serious relationship or doesn’t think of you as a potential partner. Expecting him to move on to something more serious isn’t realistic. He’s probably going to eventually disappear.

Why did he disappear? I get asked this all the time. Maybe be found someone else, he moved on to another text partner or got scared off somehow. Doesn’t matter one bit. You know what you need to know: he isn’t a grownup man looking for what you want. He’s not worth your time.

When a man is a serious guy interested in getting to know you, you know it. He steps up by calling and setting up dates. He tries to learn about you and your life. He makes an effort to spend time with you. He does little things to try to make you happy.

If you’re like Sue or Melissa, here is what you need to know: A text ‘relationship’, when void of in-person meeting, has very little meaning. If you agree to keep participating, expect to have a false sense of connection and unrealistic expectations. I have seen countless women create fantasies and get drawn in — often before they even meet a man. All because he’s a great texter.

Here’s the truth: If you aren’t spending time together, you do not know him. Keep your emotions in check and stay in reality.

2. Texting can ruin a great budding relationship.

With no tonality in messages, texting back and forth creates enormous opportunities to misread and misunderstand intent. I can’t tell you how many emails I’ve received from coaching clients with a text conversation pasted in and the question: What do you think he means (aka WTF)????

Honestly, half the time I don’t know what a guy means based on twelve words on a screen. And even if I think I know, I’m loathe to guess. Instead, I recommend that she invites him to call her in a kind and open way.

3. Some men use texting to string you along…period.

If you are getting texts along with calls and dates, then excellent! He’s interested in getting to know you and likely looking for a relationship.
But if there is no actual in-person contact – beware! Most women know a guy who texts once in a while as a kind of check in. Maybe he even calls occasionally. He tells you how much he likes you and what a great woman you are. He flirts. He says how busy he is and how he’d really love to see you soon. And it ends there.
That guy is what I call a “pinger.” Pingers want an ego boost. They text you and, when you respond positively, get the high of knowing that you’re still a willing option when (and if) he wants to actually spend time with you. And then he moves on.

With just ten minutes time and a few well-chosen keystrokes, a good pinger can keep you interested for months, even years…without so much as one date.
If you are involved with a pinger, girlfriend, you need to end that so-called relationship right now.  You can read more about pingers and learn what you can do with them by reading this article : Why Does He Keep Disappearing and Reappearing?

4.  Texting as a way of dating is for boys, not men.

If you haven’t met him yet, he hasn’t made an effort to plan a date and he’s texting to see if you can get together tonight, don’t be too flattered. He may be impulsive or using you as a back-up girl when his other plans fell through.

If you like him and are willing to give him a chance, then respond with a positive ‘thank you but no thank you.” You want to say something like this:
“I’m really looking forward to seeing your blue eyes in person, Bob, but I have plans tonight. Love to get together with a little more notice next time. Let me know what works. Enjoy your evening.”

Put it out there and see what happens. A grownup guy who truly wants to know you will get the message and ask you out ahead of time. A player or user guy will disappear or text you again in a few weeks wanting to see you that night. Take it for what it is – he’s not a serious guy looking for a serious relationship. Don’t answer. Next!

5. Texting does have a positive place in dating.

Texting can be a great complement to real dating. For instance, it’s a great way to clarify plans or make last minute updates to the plan. A man who wants a healthy, mature connection will make every effort to show you he’s interested and to actually see you in person. Why? Because that’s how men decide if they like you. It’s all about how he FEELS when he’s with you, and he knows it. So if he’s looking for something more than one fun night, a good man will do what he can to impress you by asking you out, and then be in your presence.

Texting is also good for a quick “had a nice time” or “sleep well” note following a nice date. Or a “looking forward to slurping spaghetti with you Friday.”  Let him know you’re thinking of him and appreciate him. Make it simple, and leave it there. If you don’t hear back, move on.

6. If he’s a grownup good guy, you can kindly get him off texting.

I can see why even good, solid, single men love texting. If he sees your picture and profile and wants to meet you, the hunter in him wants to get directly to the result: meeting you. This is also true of some women I know. They feel that chatting first just gets in the way and would rather skip the phone and/or email.
But I’ll say it again, doing a bunch of texting creates an unrealistic sense of connection. If you want a little more, like a phone call first, it’s up to you to get off the texting treadmill and ask for what you want. And if he is serious about meeting a woman for a real relationship, he will step up and you will know he’s into you.
How do you do that? Simply say something like this if he seems to be stuck on texting: “It would be great to hear the voice connected to these great texts and emails. I’d love a phone call when you’ve got time. Hope that works for you! 555-1212.” OR “Thanks for getting in touch. I’d like to get to know you but I find texting isn’t the best way. But catching up with you over coffee might be ;).”

So…the bottom line on texting and dating is this: use texting sparingly, wisely and, most of all, don’t read too much into it. Remember, real life and real love happen in person, smile to smile, touch to touch. Not on your phone or your computer.

I would LOVE to hear your texting stories and answer your questions about how to make it work for you while dating or in your relationship. Leave me your comments below.

Bobbi Palmer, founder of Date Like a Grownup, is an internationally recognized expert helping women over 40 add intimacy and partnership to their already good life.  As a first-time bride at age 47, Bobbi shares her first-hand experience to help you find grownup, lasting, passionate love with the right man. Click here to get her free coaching videos 4 Devastating Mistakes Women over 40 Make in their Search for Love.