You Need Help: To Text, or Not To Text?

I got this question via Autostraddle message:

I went to a party. I met this beautiful lady. We didn’t talk much, but we DID spend a decent amount of time making out and dancing. Her friends showed up and we parted ways, but exchanged numbers. I asked her to text me and she said she would. I met her on a Saturday and now it’s Tuesday. 

Should I text her? Should I give up waiting for her to text me?

Ah, the age old question. Before this it was “When do I call?” Before that? I’m not sure — when is the appropriate time to send a letter via horse drawn carriage? With all the effort taken out of our distance communication, it’s hard to know what comes off as “too eager” or “too blasé” or how we’re being read when really all someone else is getting is some words on a screen with no vocal inflection. Ah, the tyranny of ease.

We’ve all heard this advice:

Now I’m gonna add my advice to the mix. Normally I answer mostly questions about sex, but I am qualified to answer this question, I think, because I wooed my incredibly talented and wonderful girlfriend through a combination of text-based communications (we met online) and face-to-face encounters (we did not stay online).

Stop Waiting.

Waiting is a bummer. Waiting means you’re not doing other things—you’re devoting your precious mental energy to legitimately watching for something to happen that maybe will happen or maybe won’t happen. Waiting implies inaction. And frankly, it’s been quite a few days and for any number of reasons it sounds like this person isn’t going to text you. That could mean that she’s shy. It could mean she’s not into you other than being a one-time dance floor make-out buddy. It could mean she was drunk and doesn’t remember telling you she’d text. It could mean she didn’t take you seriously when you said to text her because she thinks you’re not into her other than being a one-time dance floor make-out buddy. The big thing here is you don’t know her, but waiting for her to text is clearly not doing you any good.

You can’t focus your mind and make her text. You only have control over your fingers.

So what does that mean, exactly? It means if you want to speak to this woman again, text her. But—

Text When You Have Something To Say

When you have a thing to say to the person whose number you have, text that person that thing. It has to be a thing of substance. Please never just text “hey.” Or “hello.” And then offer no other things in said text message. How does someone respond to that? And the tough thing is that, because it’s text with no vocal inflection, the reader is then left to infer a ton of things about you/what you mean. So what does that one word text really communicate?

a) you can’t think of anything to say.

b) you haven’t put any effort into that text message, so you really super don’t care about the outcome.

c) you’re nervous! You care a lot about the outcome and you don’t want to sound doofy.

d) you have no idea whose phone number this is and you’re hoping you will now find out.

e) one million other interpretations.

But really, all the one word text message does is make it super hard for her to text you back if she wants to, because there’s nothing to go on. So ignore the timeline rules — if you want to get to know a person and you have their phone number, text when you have a real thing to say to them.

So the question is, do you have a real thing to say to this lovely ladygay? I think you probably do, because it sounds like you had a really badass time drinking, dancing and making out with her.

In your case, this is the language I recommend starting with—

“I had a really great time meeting you and dancing with you on Saturday.”

And now we’re gonna tack things on to that.

For The Love of Lesbian Jesus, Use NAMES


You mention in your letter (in a bit that I edited out) that alcohol was involved in this magical evening. I dunno about you, but I am bad with names even when I’m as sober as a judge. And if I’d been drinking and dancing and out with friends? Well I personally DEFINITELY didn’t put your name in my phone.

Also consider using her name, if you know it. That shows that you, you know, remember her.

So let’s amend the above text to—

“Hello [insert her name here]! It’s [insert your name here] from that badass party. I had a really great time meeting you and dancing with you on Saturday.”

But check this: that text is still really hard to respond to. Because what would you say to that? Me too? You’re super cool? Those are valid options, but I’m a big fan of the following tactic—

Set Yourself Up For Further Conversation By Asking a Question


What’s the goal of this text that you’re about to send? Would you like to get to know her via screen-based handheld communication devices (as in, do you want to keep texting for a while?). Did you want to get together again in person, maybe this time with more talking? Are you hoping for more make out sessions at dances but not more than that? Your desired end result will determine the next portion of your text message.

Questions make responding really easy! There is a real thing that you really want to know and that she might have an answer to. It is a suggestion for the next topic y’all are gonna text about (or talk about with your facemeats).

If you want to keep texting, try tacking on something like: “How do you know [insert host of party’s name here]?” Or literally any other question about any other detail of that awesome Saturday.

If you want to get together in person, perhaps write: “I think you’re pretty cool. Wanna grab coffee soon?”

If you want to make out at the next party: “Are you gonna hit up [insert name of party here] next Saturday? Highly recommend.”

Be Cool If You Don’t Get a Response

After all this, she may not text you back. And that’s okay. It just means she has nothing to say to you for about a million reasons. Sometimes people say they’re going to text and then they don’t because it feels far more appropriate to tell the little white lie in a social situation where you don’t want to be a downer, ya know? So if she doesn’t text you back:

a) don’t keep texting her. Because that is not cool. Let her do her. You do you.

b) pat yourself on the back. You took a risk today. You are braver than most people, who are still willing their phones to buzz with the sheer force of their hope.

c) don’t base your self-worth on whether or not this woman texts you. I’m serious! We all take rejection personally and that’s not a super productive thing to do with rejection, especially when it comes to inter-personal stuff. Rejection just lets us know what’s up with no wasted time/energy, so re-frame it as a positive (“okay, now I know for sure”). Following this reframe, Riese and Laneia both recommend that you read a book in a meadow. I heartily concur. Here are a few recommendations for that activity.

Have a question about sex? Email me at ali [at], PM me on Autostraddle or for a completely anonymous experience you can ask me a question right here.

Please keep your questions to around, at most, 100 words. Due to the high volume of questions and feelings, not every question or feeling will be answered or published on Autostraddle. We hope you know that we love you regardless.

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A.E. Osworth

A.E. Osworth is part-time Faculty at The New School, where they teach undergraduates the art of digital storytelling. Their novel, We Are Watching Eliza Bright, about a game developer dealing with harassment (and narrated collectively by a fictional subreddit), is forthcoming from Grand Central Publishing (April 2021) and is available for pre-order now. They have an eight-year freelancing career and you can find their work on Autostraddle (where they used to be the Geekery Editor), Guernica, Quartz, Electric Lit, Paper Darts, Mashable, and drDoctor, among others.

A.E. has written 542 articles for us.


  1. Now we have an article on hpw to communication which always pops up in these sex and relationship how tos!!!!=] yay!!!

    This is something I wish I’d seen way back when. This is like a mini bible on communication. I was always on the fence about when and what to text.

    I’d also like to add that if they do text u back and the convo runs a bit dry try to see if maybe theyre suddenly not into u..and I agree, you deserve all the pats on the back..=]

  2. This post is a must read for just about everyone. These are very useful tips for communicating with someone new you just met and like, either in a friendship or romantic way.

    I’d say a lot of this would apply to longer messaging formats as well. A huge highlight on being proactive. Waiting around for good things to happen to you will result in a lot of waiting around. Many women are socialized to stand by and wait for people (OK, men) to approach them first, and this expectation leads to a lot of standing around IRL and non-communication online/over text.

    Having something to say and asking questions is paramount for starting and continuing a conversation. One time I sent a message to this girl and asked a bunch of interested questions, and she replied back with point by point answers, and nothing more. Conversation dead.

    Lastly, text kinda sucks. Like the post says, there are a million reasons why they don’t text you back. Sometimes it’s just because they’re bad at texting or they’re having a busy week, but your mind automatically jumps to the worst conclusion of you are undesirable, and that’s simply not true. So stay busy and keep on with your regular schedule and hopefully you might meet up in person where cues are easier to read and you can show them how awesome you are!

  3. QUESTION, ALWAYS ASK A QUESTION. If they’re nervous like you are, questions give a little kick up the arse.

  4. Thanks for writing this, Ali! I have a feeling I’ll be coming back to this one many many times in the future… In fact I wish I could send it to my past self and spare myself all that overthinking/freaking out because this makes it all so simple!

  5. Oh why oh why didn’t this post exist ten years ago? Come to think of it, why didn’t Autostraddle exist ten years ago? Well, at least the world is getting better and not worse in this one area.

    • I know, right? I wish Autostraddle was around when I was a teenager. My life would have been so much easier

  6. I want texts and emails and online dating messaging systems to ALL just plain BLOCK one-word communcations, so I thank you for addressing that. I never understand why people think that will break the ice. It’s a massive red flag if the person can’t do better than that!

  7. Okay, I have a follow-on/thematically linked question: I’ve been seeing this girl pretty casually for a little while. Every time we go out on a date/do a thing we have an awesome time and I can tell she’s legitimately happy to be there. And when I text/Facebook her she always responds enthusiastically. BUT it’s always me that initiates it! It makes me worried that she’s not quite as keen as I am. And I mean I do this like twice a week, not every day. I’m not trying to crowd her out or anything!
    I keep trying to do the “okay, so I won’t contact her until she contacts me first” but I always either cave and start another conversation when I see a cool gig for us to go to/something on the internet she’d like etc. And honestly, she doesn’t seem to mind. But I don’t want to come off as “that annoying girl who keeps texting me”, if you get me?

    • If it works for you two, then keep doing it. It might be that she’s too busy to initiate, or that she thinks you’re too busy so she’s leaving it up to you to talk to her when you have free time instead of imposing on you or interrupting you. Since it seems to be a success so far, I wouldn’t be surprised if this is a comfortable routine for her – you’re always coming up with great ideas to hang out, so she may unconsciously be assigning that role to you in your relationship.

      • I agree. And you never know what someone’s trying on for size because of past experience. After being burned in the past when going after what I want, I tend to hang back now to let the other person take the lead and set the tone (which takes a TON of will power on my part, believe me). So it’s certainly possible that she’s just gun-shy and is leaving the ball in your court so she can be 100% confident that you’re in this thing. If you’re getting good responses, then you’re golden!

    • Lulamorashi – I had the exact same question/uneasiness about a girl I was casually hanging out with a few years ago. That same girl is now my girlfriend of 2.5 years. Turns out she was totally into me, just not into initiating conversation.. your lady may be similar. I agree, it is frustrating and unnerving to feel like you are the only one who cares enough to pursue things, but if she really wants to stop seeing you, she’ll let you know. Best of luck : )

  8. gosh i am the worst at texting in the universe. i always read a message, think oh i will reply when i have a moment. and then forget it ever happened. i am a terrible person if judged on my ability to send a damn message

  9. Great post!

    Definitely helpful. Wish I could’ve read this advice years ago. I’m one of those one word response type of person but I’m trying to break that habit. Been told that it makes me come off as disinterested from my partner. Working on becoming a better communicator all around!

  10. Thank you! I will take this advice to heart because I always get sad when the other person text doesn’t text back. Or I never know what to say

  11. I have recently been texting a gal I meet online but things just doesn’t seems to go well after tht as suddenly she is being so cold to me…. and I think she ended up blocking me..

  12. Two things:
    1. It is easier to live with mistakes and lessons learned the hard way, than to live with regrets. So text her, and be honest.
    2. There is a difference between apologizing for your feelings and apologizing for your actions. Never apologize for your feelings.

    … I’m trying to remind myself of both these things right now as I try to not anxiously check my phone every 5 seconds to see if my ladycrush has replied, or read it.

    p.s. Read receipts were designed by sadists.

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