We text friends. We text family members. We text work colleagues. In fact, many of us prefer texting to other forms of communication.
But some people take it too far. They text constantly. Or about things that shouldn’t be in texts. Or they avoid communicating in other ways.
This can be uncomfortable, no matter who you’re interacting with. But it’s particularly trying in a romantic relationship. Especially in the beginning.
Excessive or inappropriate texting can feel like stalking. It can make you think you’re in a relationship when you’re really not. It can allow you to say things you wouldn’t face-to-face. It can push two people apart.
That’s why I recommend setting texting boundaries early on. This way, you both know where you stand. You both know what’s okay. And what isn’t.
Boundaries make it easier to show each other respect. You know where the lines are. You don’t have to worry and wonder about doing too much. Or too little.
In other words, setting texting boundaries makes getting to know each other less stressful. Seriously.
Texting is a big part of the modern anxiety of dating. Are you responding enough? Too much? Are you saying the right things? Can he tell what you mean? How can you ask him to cool it without hurting his feelings?
Boundaries wipe all of that away. Which is why I’m going to tell you exactly which boundaries to set and how to set them.
Before we dive in, I want to make something clear. The boundaries you set should be based on your comfort level. (And his, of course.) If some of these seem too restrictive, skip them. Not restrictive enough? Add to them.
The point is to create an environment that best helps you to connect. To that end:
Start small. There are so many ways texting can go wrong. Because of this, I recommend mostly not doing it in the beginning. Make texting functional. Confirm the day, time, and address of your date. Let him know if you’re going to be late. Or that you arrived.
And that’s it. If you keep to these functional tasks, you’re less likely to get hung up on a misunderstanding right from the beginning. A misunderstanding that happens all too often even in stable relationships because of the lack of facial expression or vocal tone in a text.
Want to say you had a great time? Call. Need to whisper sweet nothings in his ear? Wait till you have an actual ear present.
Doing these things via text isn’t inherently wrong. But it requires a level of comfort with the other person. As you get more comfortable, you can slowly add more “functions.”
Outlaw last-minute text invites. We live in a world of overwhelming options today. Dating is no exception to this. It’s possible to find lots of “matches” online and collect countless phone numbers.
Unfortunately, some guys use their options to avoid ever really dating. They’ll keep you around as a backup option. Then, when plans fall through, they’ll text you to do something. That night.
But this invite doesn’t mean he’s serious about you. It means he’s bored.
So take away the option. You don’t need to tell him you’ll decline all last-minute text invites. Just don’t be responsive to them until a delay makes the last minute invite a thing of the past. If he’s actually interested, he’ll notice this pattern quickly. He’ll start arranging plans with you in advance.
No drunk texting. Drinking impairs judgment. So if you get a late-night text from a guy confessing his love, take it with a grain of salt. If he wants to say romantic things, he should say them to your face. Or at least call.
If you’re the forgiving type, you can institute a three strikes policy. It’s easy to make a mistake if you’re out drinking with friends. But do it multiple times, and you’re out.
No sexting. You aren’t interested in someone who’s going to pressure you into sexual acts via text. And if you want him to send you explicit things, you’ll ask.
Plus, there’s a big problem with sexting. It gives him tremendous ammo to hurt you if things go wrong and you break up badly.
Someone who can’t abide by a simple boundary like this isn’t a guy you want to be with. Pressuring you for erotic pictures is a form of abuse. You don’t deserve it.
No peeking. Your phone and your digital accounts are your business. Explain to your guy that it’s about trust. You’re not hiding anything. But you also don’t want him reading your texts. Just like you won’t read his.
If you’re okay with him doing this, great. But if you find him trying to access them behind your back, there needs to be a serious conversation.
Set a max number of texts. Some people only text once a day. Others send dozens or even hundreds of messages every day. So tell him what you’re comfortable with. Learn his limit. And then both of you abide by it.
I’m deliberately not suggesting a number. It’s different for everybody. Both of you might be totally okay with sending constant texts back and forth every day. Or you might feel fine with a handful of messages on a daily basis, but not past 9:00 PM.
Talk about your preferences. It will eliminate any potential guilt when you don’t have the time for one more quick response (at work, before bed, or even when trying to think about something else for a while).
The bottom line: talk to each other. The best way to keep texting from controlling your relationship is to understand what your partner likes. And to ensure he knows your boundaries.
And don’t be afraid to adjust. Maybe 20 messages a day was okay at first. But now it’s too much.
But couch it in a positive way. Say it’s hard to respond to so many texts throughout your day. You want to make sure he gets your undivided attention. Set a time to chat either in person or on the phone. Because you definitely want him to keep talking to you.
Get on the same page. It gives your relationship the best chance to grow and blossom.