By Seth Myers, Psy.D.
I completely understand the lure of technology, how easy it is to shoot off a text as opposed to picking up the phone and talking. But it’s a problem that we’ve become so dependent on technology and gotten lazy with the way we communicate our most important thoughts and feelings. People shouldn’t be dealing with major arguments and problems through texts, or getting passive-aggressive or angry in what becomes a silly texting showdown. Below, I highlight the ten text messages – or anything that resembles them – you should never, ever send to someone you’re dating. Like, ever.
Text #1: “Why are you mad at me?”
Why not: If she truly is angry with you, it’s not something you’re going to effectively sort out through a texting match. Odds are, one or both of you will end up feeling angrier if you send or respond to this kind of text. If you’re moderately angry, do it over the phone; if it’s a major issue, wait to meet in person to deal with it.
Text #2: “Why aren’t you responding to me? Are you not into me anymore?”
If you are in a position with someone where you’re feeling insecure, sending texts that don’t get returned will make you feel worse: more insecure, anxious, and frustrated. Don’t get caught in an obsessive-compulsive cycle of texting when your date isn’t responding to you. Make a quick phone call before you take a brief hiatus and plan on leaving a voicemail: “Hey there, I’ll check in with you next week, hope you have a good week.” Take a week off to focus on other stuff, and accept that this relationship may or may not work out. With my approach, at least you can get off the hamster wheel of desperate texting.
Text #3: “I saw that picture you posted online of your ‘friend.’”
This type of text message is most common among teenagers, but a handful of 20-somethings will send this kind of text, too. I know we all know the truth: This is very childish behavior, so let’s not practice this one any longer. Be direct. Be direct. Be direct.
Text #4: “We’re done. The relationship is over.”
Why not: You probably don’t need me to explain why you shouldn’t break up in a text – no matter what he or she did, or how much you truly want to end it – so I’ll be quick: We’re not objects, so we shouldn’t discard people from our lives through a text as if they’re trash that can simply be thrown out. I don’t want you to do it, and I don’t want anyone to do it to you, either. Let’s all agree, from now on, to bury this childish, nasty behavior. We are adults!
Text # 5: “Where were you last night? You think you can just stand me up?!”
Why not: First, don’t be so distrusting and jump to conclusions. Because there may have been an emergency, always give your date the benefit of the doubt. Instead, text this: “I hope you’re okay. I wasn’t sure if there was an emergency last night or if I got stood up. Just let me know what happened, and I hope you’re okay.” If you don’t hear anything back, it’s safe to say that your date may not win any awards for social graces, so move the heck on.
Text #6: “Don’t ever speak to me again.”
Why not: Honestly, if you fire off such an extreme emotional reaction, you’re probably doing it impulsively and may very well change your mind later. Texts aren’t real conversations; you shouldn’t ever be texting about anything that is intensely emotional – especially communications that involve anger. Texting is not the place for it, period.
Text #7: “I don’t like you hanging out with so-and-so.”
I’d like to believe that this kind of text message is only used by teenagers who are experiencing the intense emotions that come with love for the first time, but I have clients in their 50s who will occasionally send this kind of jealous, angry text. If she doesn’t want you hanging out with so-and-so, she shouldn’t be addressing the issue by text; she needs to be a grownup and pick up the phone, or wait to discuss it in person.
Text #8: “Send me something sexy.”
If you really care about the person you’re dating, don’t ever ask her to send a picture that could turn up later to haunt her. Even though she might do it, don’t put her in a vulnerable position like that. Any picture that you send of yourself, do it with the understanding that it might become public later.
Text #9: “Talk dirty to me.”
Unless you’re Jason DeRulo, you shouldn’t be sending this text. Save your sexy talk for when you’re together in person; that’s much more passionate and interesting anyway. Text messages can end up in scary hands, especially considering the frequency of hacking these days.
Text #10: Any text where you call someone a nasty name.
People shouldn’t call each other nasty names in person, but doing it by text is even worse and more cowardly. Please don’t do this with your dates.
The takeaway: The general themes to avoid in texting include intense emotions, sexual content, and starting arguments. Texting can be highly impulsive, so follow these rules and your relationship will be better off because of it.
About the Author:
Dr. Seth is a licensed clinical psychologist, author, Psychology Today blogger, and TV guest expert. He practices in Los Angeles and treats a wide range of issues and disorders and specializes in relationships, parenting, and addiction. He has had extensive training in conducting couples therapy and is the author of Dr. Seth’s Love Prescription: Overcome Relationship Repetition Syndrome and Find the Love You Deserve.