Sextion: Texting etiquette


As the semester winds down, many of us are finding that it’s now or never to get to know (biblically, that is) that special someone in our comp lit class that we’ve been eyeing. Or maybe there was a really enjoyable hookup during Spring Weekend that we want to re-acquaint ourselves with. And, if we’re lucky, we’ve managed to get that person’s phone number but are now at the point where we begin the dreaded texting game. I’m sure many of you know the one I’m talking about: you’re trying to formulate a text message that is equally coy and flirty. You’re trying to seem cool and aloof while still indicating interest, and you definitely don’t want to seem creepy and desperate. So here are my tips on how to craft the perfect text message to your person of interest. The key, I think, is to be honest. And to utilize some semblance of grammar and punctuation; put question marks at the ends of your sentences, folks. Please.

Interested vs. Desperate: Indicating that you’re interested in the person doesn’t have to cause undo stress during reading week and finals period. It’s just about maintaining conversation. Checking in with them, seeing what they’re up to, and giving them words of encouragement if you know they have a big exam or paper to write all are nice gestures without making yourself seem desperate. Unless they didn’t tell you that they had an exam or paper to write, don’t ask them about it— it’s a little creepy that you know that. But even just filling them in on what you’re doing is a nice way to let that person know you’re thinking about them. “I’m having a few people over to my suite to pregame, if you wanted to come” or “Heading to Jo’s in a little bit if you’re around” are all great ways of showing interest without seeming creepy or desperate. The fastest way to seem desperate is to triple text, as sad as that is. So don’t do it. Ever. Also, I find that you don’t want to demand that the person come to wherever you are either. Saying “Come!” is a lot more forceful and creepy than asking if they want to come. Do you see what I’m getting at? On the flip-side, you absolutely don’t want to insert yourself where you weren’t invited. If he/she is in a friend’s suite in New Dorm, DO NOT say “Oh great! Which room? I’ll come by!” That’s creepy. Instead, try saying “Sounds like fun! Let me know what you’re up to later.”

Coy vs. Dismissive: This is a particularly hard one because you want to counterbalance the indications of interest with also seeming cool and nonchalant. I know, seeming cool is like the most important thing for a potential fling and something can be said for the thrill of the chase that we seem to be so fond of. But surprisingly, making yourself seem coy without being dismissive is a lot like indicating interest. If your someone texts you “What’s up?” simply saying “Not much” or “Nothin'” without giving anything back might come off as dismissive. Instead, extend the conversation a bit by asking what they’re doing. You don’t have to reveal every thought going through your head at that given moment, or tell your texting buddy exactly what you’re up to, but say something more than “Nm, u?” please. If you really are interested in the person, saying “I’m just hanging out with friends at 68 John Street” says so much more than just “I’m just hanging out with friends.” It gives that little something extra and leads the way to an invitation to hang out with said friends, or at least gives room for future conversations. Punctuation and emoticons play a large role in determining whether your text is coy or dismissive. I have been told that I may use a few too many exclamation points, but a couple couldn’t hurt, and seems way less dismissive and diminutive than periods. Exclamation points invite your partner to text back, and are less likely to be misconstrued. The last thing you want is to make your texting partner think that they’re annoying you and you don’t want to talk. Even if you want to make your partner work for you – a concept that I’m still trying to wrap my head around – you don’t want them to give up on texting you entirely. Smiley faces and winky faces do the same (in moderation).

Flirty vs. Just Plain Rude: I feel like this line is not as fine as we may believe. If I tell you that I’m hanging out in a friend’s suite or going to a party, saying that what I’m doing is “Lamee” (the two Es were from an actual text message I received from a past hookup) and that it’s my “loss” that I don’t want to ditch my friends to hook up with you is actually not very nice, and certainly wouldn’t make me want to change my plans for you any more than if you hadn’t texted me with such sass. So instead of trying to make me feel bad for not being able to hang out at that exact moment, saying something like “Bummer,” “That’s too bad,” or even “Okay” would be much better than “Lamee.” Maybe, if you’re feeling extra brave, you could say “Damn, I was really hoping to see you tonight, let me know what you’re up to later.” The ball then is in his/her court and he/she might even invite you to that friend’s suite or the party that you wouldn’t have gone to before.

On a final note, please never insult my intelligence. If we had a drunken hookup at Roxy or Lupos or Whiskey and you’re texting me at 3 a.m., I know what you’re after. And I know you don’t “just wanna say hi” or to “chill for a sec.” And that’s fine. Completely fine. Indicating that you had fun or are interested in hooking up again is actually quite a compliment for me. So tell me that, as opposed to lying and saying you “just wanna say hi.” Cause I know that’s not what you want to do. If you don’t want to come outright and say what you’re after, not wanting to seem creepy or desperate or like you 100% want to objectify my body, a simple “I had a lot of fun tonight and would love to see you again, what are you up to?” or “I’d like to continue what we did earlier if you’re interested” would suffice. Maybe even add in a winky face if you’re feeling saucy. I think that sounds interested without seeming desperate, and is just the perfect and honest amount of flirty. It also gives you a better segue into actually meeting up, so that your person can respond “I am interested. Your place or mine?”

So that’s it. Texting doesn’t have to be as scary as we make it out to be! Just try to be nice and engaged and you’ll be just fine. Don’t triple text, and ask leading questions to keep conversation going. Of course, honesty and humor is always a good way to go about things. If you’re feeling unsure of how to text that special someone this reading period, hit me up at

Peace and love and good luck,


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