Texting is not as easy as it is made out to be. Take it from someone for whom it is the most preferred channel of communication. It’s a game. Texting your partner can be a highly intellectual, complex, logical game. Those millions of letters and symbols and emojis on your keyboard with their millions of permutations and combinations. What goes where? Which letter to put beside which other? Is it relaying exactly what I mean? It’s tough. Tougher still, when the person at the other end of your chat is someone whose name in the notifications bar makes your heart leap. When your eyes yearn to see a message from them waiting for you first thing in the morning to actually make it ‘good.’ In equations like these, it’s common to find yourself staring at your screen just a tad longer than usual, carefully planning (plotting, almost) which buttons to best push to elicit the best response from them.

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But what if all your meditative scheming fails? What if you regret the energy with which you sent your message because they don’t reciprocate it? Should you bury a hole in the ground and stick your head in there for all the cringe, sappy texts you sent them that led to you being ghosted? Or is packing your bags and moving to Arizona with a new name and identity the better option? There is so much to texting, and then a bit more. In the age of online dating, especially, it can make or break a potential love story. So what is the best foot forward?

Honestly, there are no rules anymore. And yet, there have to be some ground rules. Don’t mind me sounding like a strict parent, but maintaining a basic rulebook when dating, or beginning to, is important. For you, your sanity, and your oh so precious heart. What signals to catch on? How to know when to wave them goodbye? Are they interested? Here is all that, and more, summed up in five neat points. By the end, perhaps, you’ll be wiser, for whether to text them or not.

1. Girl, Talking To Ghosts Can Be Spooky

Unless you’re a séance, talking to ghosts on chat is a no go. As someone who has had more than her fair share of chats left on seen, I can tell you that with conviction. You may invest hour upon hour talking to that special person – upon waking, while pooing, during lunch, among friends – and still get ghosted someday. If things don’t work out the way they ought to, that is. Not getting a message back is also a message. A loud one.

But, and pay attention to this, do not beat yourself up about it if you don’t hear from them again. It does not mean you shouldn’t keep expectations in relationships. Ghosting you was their loss and if they leave you on seen for eternity without an explanation… well, you can do so much better. Drop them. You’re not their toy. Drop them so hard their ghost head spins.

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2. Are They Finding Excuses To Talk To You?

Okay, this one is cute and a sure shot indication that your person is a keeper. If there’s anything saccharine romcoms have taught me, it’s that if someone wants to talk to you, they will make time. Or better yet, excuses. Hey, can you send me a good salad recipe? Hey, do you know how to fix a broken laptop? And, this one, a modern classic: Hey, check this meme out. Because what better way to open conversation than with humour?

Remember, we’re living in the age of the internet. Most questions – about random recipes or broken devices – can be found online. So unless you’re Aryabhata and they have a math problem, their question is probably just a sweet excuse to begin a conversation. If someone goes out of their way to chat with you – about something as whack as aliens or as banal as a leaking tap – know they enjoy your company. In which case, keep the chat going, don’t let it ever die out. Don’t let that wretched ‘bye’ word ever come.

3. Double Texts? Sure. Triple Texts? Ooh, Tricky

As I said, there are no definite rules to texting someone you are interested in. Love and romance, they’re bags of goodies. But there are certain formulae you would do better siding with, simply because it’s safe practice. Now this is an entirely subjective course of action – and you have to see where your personality takes you – but the standard thing to remember is, you don’t want to come off too strong or too lax before you’re sure the chat is actually leading somewhere. For your own good.

When in the initial stages of talking, sending them a follow-up text to something they haven’t replied to, is generally considered okay. Endearing even. It shows them you care and are interested in conversing further. But any more than that? Personally, I find that a bit much. You don’t want to crowd them with frantic, clingy messages even before they’ve had a chance to reply to your first one. Show them you’re interested, but give them space to reciprocate that interest before taking another step forward. Breathe. Be patient.

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4. You’re Not At A Bus Stand, You Can’t Be Kept Waiting So Long

That said, while patience in texting is important for a healthy relationship, you have got to set down some boundaries. Your patience doesn’t exist to be tested every day. You’re not waiting at a bus stand and they are not a bus. They cannot take their own sweet time to arrive and expect you to be overjoyed with their presence. Maintaining a mutual degree of interest while chatting is imperative – and it comes through in questions like how frequently they respond, are they taking your concerns for granted, do they message you per their own convenience.

I know, our ego may not always allow us to broach uncomfortable subjects like this, for fear of appearing too intrusive. But if you see your relationship with them going somewhere, then confront them. If they reply to your texts after days or at strange hours or only when they’re bored, try to talk the issue out. If they behave obliviously to you and your feelings and fail to meet some basic expectations, leave. 

5. Pictures, Voice Notes, Songs? Yes, Yes, And Yes

This is to conclude the list on a happy note. If there are more than just jumbled symbols and letters on the screen between you and your almost-partner, congratulations. You have entered wonderland where dreams don’t die and your stomach probably feels like it’s a butterfly exhibit. The conversation is so pure and bereft of hesitation, where technicalities like who texts whom first seem insignificant. You both enjoy talking to each other, so you do. Without thought, without complexity, without pause.

Throw some shy photo exchanges, adorable voice notes, the new love language of song recommendations, and perhaps even a virtual date into the mix, and you have yourself a sweet spot you so deserve. This is that stage of texting where everything is just a big green light glaring you in the face, that last lap before you both confess your true feelings to each other. Dive in.

Views expressed are the author’s own. 

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