It is incredibly confusing to date in the 21st century. We have complicated ways of connecting that didn’t exist 20 years ago, and much of our conversation with romantic partners happens via text message.
Comedian Aziz Ansari has a lot to say about this. In his first book, “Modern Romance,” Ansari worked with sociologist Eric Klinenberg to explore how we date in the digital age. They talked with hundreds of single people across the world, asking how they connect with romantic partners.
Ansari and Klinenberg discovered the culture of finding love has evolved dramatically, fuelled in part by the advent of mobile phones and the explosion in online dating.
They also found that a lot of people have questions about texting etiquette.
Here are some of their tips from the 2016 book.
Don’t wait to send that first text.
Although the three-day rule has floated around as solid advice for what seems like forever, Ansari and Klinenberg found that’s actually a myth.
After you meet someone you like, the best time to send the first text is that same day. It’s better to touch base sooner rather than later, because it keeps the romantic momentum going.
That person already gave you their number, so chances are they dig you.
Avoid “heyyy” and make it personal.
Ansari and Klinenberg found one of women’s most common texting peeves was the generic “hello” text.
“After seeing hundreds and hundreds of messages in women’s’ phones,” Ansari writes, “I can definitively say that most of the texts women receive are, sadly, utterly lacking in either thought or personality.”
Instead, reference something you talked about when you first met that person. Show them you actually listen to what they say.
Try to be clever.
Adding a dose of comedy to your texts can really up your game, Ansari says. It keeps things lighthearted and makes you memorable to the other person.
At the same time, try not to overdo it, because sometimes sarcasm or offbeat humour can be a little hard to decipher over text.
Text at normal hours.
It’s best to text in the afternoon or evening, not early in the morning or late at night, Ansari and Klinenberg say. Otherwise, you run the risk of annoying someone by waking them up.
Don’t text back immediately, but don’t overthink your response time.
In their focus groups, Ansari and Klinenberg found that generally you shouldn’t text someone back right away. Texting back immediately apparently gives off the vibe that you’re too eager or desperate.
Waiting an hour or two will make you seem more desirable, because it shows that you have other things going on in your life. That said, don’t wait too long, which could show a lack of interest.
Use correct grammar.
“Plz” and “Idk” may be ok in texts with friends, but Ansari and Klinenberg say you’re better off using proper English with your crush.
Bad grammar was a major turnoff in almost every focus group. Texting things like “Hey we shud hang out sumtimez” make the sender seem unintelligent and lazy.
Make concrete plans.
Ansari suggests avoiding the generic “what’s up?” or “want to hang?” texts. Instead, be forward and direct.
Invite your crush to do something specific at a specific time. It shows that you’re interested in actually spending time with them, rather than just penciling them into your schedule.
Get to know them in person.
Sending a slew of texts isn’t a substitute for actually getting to know someone IRL, Ansari says.
When you do plan that first date, he recommends following what he dubs the “Monster Truck Rally Theory.” Don’t take your date out to a mundane place like a coffee shop or restaurant — go somewhere exciting like, say, a monster-truck rally. An interesting date helps you see what it’s really like to be with a person.
“Don’t just stare at each other across the table while sipping a beverage and making the same small talk you’ve made a thousand times about siblings, hometowns, and where you went to college,” Ansari writes. “A person may seem just ok, but if you really invest time in the relationship, maybe they will be greater than you assume.”