Is It a Red Flag for Texting Frequency to Be Low Early on in a Relationship?

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I have strong gut reaction to many—maybe even most—dating inquiries. For example, I’m a firm believer that you should wear what makes you comfortable on a first date, you should always be forthcoming with what you’re looking for in a relationship, and you should never sleep with someone who is iffy about using protection.

But when people ask me how often they should be texting in a new relationship, I’m usually honest: I have no freakin’ idea. I’m also constantly questioning whether or not the guy who I’m interested in is texting me enough, or whether I’m being annoying with my own texting habits. After consulting an expert about the communication conundrum, I learned there's unfortunately no clear-cut answer.

“There are no universal rules when it comes to communication, be it digital or face-to-face,” says sexologist Jess O’Reilly, PhD. “Text as often as you’d like, but don’t play games.” That means no manipulation, no waiting 15 minutes to answer a text that he took 15 minutes to send, and definitely no writing and rewriting your text messages with your friends. (Hey, no judgment—I've been guilty of it too.)

“There are no universal rules when it comes to communication, be it digital or face-to-face. Text as often as you’d like, but don’t play games.” —sexologist Jess O’Reilly, PhD

The only thing you really should be doing, according to Dr. O’Reilly, is being mindful of your new partner’s texting habits. If you’re someone who sends long, flowery messages, and they respond with a one-word answer, you might want to consider whether or not they want to engage in the ongoing, online conversation you're always jonesing to start.

“You don’t have to match their communication style, but do consider whether or not your texting is interfering with their life,” Dr. O’Reilly says. While you’re more than happy to send and receive texts during the workday, their constantly buzzing phone may be putting them in jeopardy at the office, or it may just be interrupting their day in a such a way that casts a negative association to you. While it would be ideal if they could express this to you, fact remains that you can't control the actions of others. So, the best way to get to the bottom of this? Ask! However they answer, trust it, and adjust from there.

Sure, it's no big deal to shift your texting habits to better accommodate a promising new fling, but a deep divide in communication style can point to trouble. “If one of you is initiating all the contact, and the other is ignoring messages or consistently responding abruptly, you may want to talk about whether or not you’re looking for the same type of relationship at this time,” Dr. O’Reilly says.

And if you’re both on the same page? Then text away! “Don’t worry about the nonsense associated with being too ‘needy’ or too ‘aloof,’” Dr. O’Reilly says. “Be yourself, and if it’s a fit, they’ll be drawn to it.”

While there aren't hard and fast texting rules, there are very few times when breaking up via iMessage is acceptable. Plus, here's the right way to slide into someone's DMs.

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