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48 Rules & Texting Etiquette for Guys AND Girls in the Early Stages of Dating

Most people aren’t aware of texting etiquette, and instead, often make mistakes. But if you learn these unspoken rules, dating will be easier!

texting in the early stages of dating

Whether you like it or not, texting is here to stay. You can fight against it and refuse to register with WhatsApp or Messenger, or you can just accept it and go with the flow. Of course, you should make sure you learn the most important texting etiquette rules, so you get your message across and don’t accidentally upset anyone!

The problem with texting often comes down to not appreciating the fact that you can read a message in several ways. Just because you intend the message to be cheerful and upbeat, doesn’t mean that’s how the recipient will read it! 

There is a huge amount of scope for misunderstanding here and that’s another reason why you need to get the messaging guidelines down-pat. [Read: How to communicate in a relationship – steps to a better love]

Why texting etiquette matters

Before we get into what you should do and what you should avoid, why does texting etiquette matter at all? Surely, texting is supposed to be a relaxed deal, so why does it have so many so-called rules?

Texting is still a form of communication, and when you communicate with someone, you need to make sure that you’re not being rude or unintentionally causing them offense. There are also certain things connected to texting that could be considered downright rude.

So, following texting etiquette rules means that everyone is happy, you get your intended message over clearly without misinterpretation, and you’re more likely to keep the conversation going. When it comes to dating, it also means that you’re making the right impression.

So, you can see that these types of rules are quite important, right? [Read: 30 ways to get to know someone, open up to them, and create a genuine bond]

First things first, know when to text and when to call

Learning texting etiquette is one thing, but you also need to know when texting isn’t required at all. There are some situations that need a call. 

For instance, if you’re going to break up with someone, never text. Seriously, how much of a coward are you? 

Also, if you’re going to give someone bad news, it’s always better to call than text. They’re bound to have follow-up questions and doing all of that over a messaging app is just a headache you don’t need. 

The best way to assess whether you should call or text is to ask how you would prefer to receive the message if the boot was on the other foot.

Would you want someone to call and explain it to you, or would you prefer to read it and understand it slowly? [Read: Ways to get your man to start communicating with you]

Of course, most texts are more flirty and chill, and in that case, a text is the correct route forward. 

Just know that sometimes, a text is the coward’s way out and that actually speaking to the person directly is best. In many ways, that’s the number one rule of texting etiquette! Now, let’s look at the others. [Read: The early stages of dating and how to navigate the dos and don’ts]

How often should you text in the early stages of dating?

This is a difficult question to answer because it’s very individual and personality-driven. Some people love texting, and other people hate it. So, if you have one person who loves it and one who hates it, then that can be challenging.

However, generally speaking, you should be texting enough for the person to know that you really like them. If you go too long in between texts, then they will start to wonder if you are losing interest.

For that reason, it’s best to at least touch base every day. Then, you can let the conversation take on a life of its own. [Read: 30 rules for texting after the first date, flirting tips & 21 smooth sample texts]

Texting etiquette and rules in the early stages of dating

Ah, that early stage of dating when everything is so exciting yet downright confusing all at the same time! You want to text them all the time, but you’re mindful of not being overly keen either. It’s no wonder we all end up stressed at this point!

But thankfully, there are some unspoken texting etiquette rules that help you to get the balance right. [Read: Dating anxiety – what it is, 39 causes of panic, and signs and steps to get over it]

1. Take a deep breath

Yes, you like this person, and you’re all excited, but calm down. Take a couple of deep breaths, and take it easy. If you work yourself up, it’ll get you overthinking everything you say.

The person you’re dating should never be up on a pedestal. They’re human, and if they don’t like you, that’s okay. There’s someone out there who will.

So, before you even start texting, breathe. [Read: How to be better at dating and enjoy every step along the way]

2. Don’t text obsessively

Sure, talking to them all day long is fun and exciting, but you also have a life outside of your phone, right? Being overly available isn’t a good look.

Why? Because it’s waving the “I’m codependent” flag. Do you have anything else going on besides texting them all day long? Of course you do, and they need to see that.

3. Texting shouldn’t replace face-to-face contact

You’re in the early stages of dating, this is the time where you should spend more time with them in person than over text. You need to see the person they really are, not the one they’re showing via text or social media.

Texting can be used to talk about everyday things, but it should mainly be used to arrange in-person dates. [Read: What to say on a first date to keep it light, easy, and flirtatious]

4. Don’t question your messages

When we like someone, we want them to think we’re funny, smart, and all the other good qualities people have. And when you’re texting someone, you want them to see these qualities.

But that doesn’t mean you should be second-guessing every message you’re sending them, making sure it doesn’t offend them or turns them off. Don’t question what you write, just make sure it’s honest.

5. You both need to initiate conversations

If you’re the only one who’s doing all the texting, that’s not a great sign. We’re all guilty of being that person, and that never ends up well.

In a healthy texting relationship, you’re both comfortable enough to initiate and carry on a conversation. If you see you’re the one putting in all the effort, stop.

6. Reply when you have time

That’s right. You don’t need to stay glued to your phone. If you’re at work or at school, keep those activities a priority. When you have time, text the person you’re dating.

You don’t need to play games, but you shouldn’t jeopardize yourself by sending them a text message when its inconvenient.

7. Use actual grammar

Yeah, this sounds lame, but you need to use proper grammar and spelling. A typo here and there isn’t a big deal, but people like to read sentences they don’t need to decode.

You probably didn’t know this, but people are turned off by poor grammar and spelling. So, shape up and follow this texting etiquette rule. [Read: Dating rules – unfair but relevant rules we all have to live by]

8. Know when to end the conversation

You don’t need to text all day and night to show the person you’re interested in them. Know when it’s okay to end the conversation. If you feel it’s dying, then end the conversation early.

You can start a new conversation in a couple of hours. That’s fine. But don’t try to keep a conversation alive when it doesn’t have to be. [Read: 15 fun games to connect with your crush over text]

9. Be mindful of your tone

If you’re someone who has dry or sarcastic humor, it may not always come across well over text.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t show off your personality. Use a couple of emojis here and there to get the point across clearly, and read your message to yourself to make sure what you want to say is actually getting across.

10. Save the important conversations for in person

You don’t need to have a deep conversation about your childhood over a text message. Some conversations are better left for in-person dates.

People have a lot of time to think about what they want to say, and that’s not always a good thing. Sometimes you need to see a person’s facial expressions and their reactions to specific conversations. [Read: The stages of a new relationship to define your budding romance]

11. Move past the text message

Texting, in the beginning, is fine and dandy, but eventually, you should talk on the phone.

What? Gasp! No one talks on the phone now, but hearing someone’s voice is much different than texting each other. Plus, it shows both of you a level of comfort in the relationship. [Read: Is it time to define your relationship?]

12. Don’t ever just text “hi” 

What are we, ten years old? Come on! If this is someone you like, you can do a little bit better than “Hi”. Seriously. Never send a message with ‘hi.’

Instead, add a question to the end of it. It’s too generic and lazy, it gives the impression that they’re not good enough for anything more.

13. Don’t try to sext

Sure, it’s tempting to dive right into the sex talk and photos. But you don’t really know this person. You should save sexting for down the road when you are an actual couple, or when you’re pretty into each other.

Guys, girls think that getting a di*k pic is gross – it doesn’t turn them on. And girls, you can’t sext a guy into a relationship. So everyone needs to avoid this at all costs.

14. Ask open-ended questions to keep the conversation going

If someone texts you asking how your day was, don’t just respond with “It’s going fine.” That doesn’t give them anything to reply back with.

Instead, you should say, “Hey, Jane! How’s your day going? Did you do well on that presentation?” Then, it opens the door to more conversation. [Read: 50 cheeky personal questions to ask to get to know someone you like]

15. Be consistent

You don’t want to text someone 24/7 for one day and then disappear for three days. That’s very confusing to the person you’re dating.

Have a consistent pattern of texting. If you don’t, the person will overthink things and assume that you’ve had a change of heart and don’t really like them that much.

16. Don’t assume they are a mind reader

One of the problems with texting is that it leaves too much room to make assumptions. Because texting lacks body language and nonverbal communication, it’s too easy to assume that the other person knows what we’re talking about.

But they are not a mind reader, so be specific and direct with your words so there is no misunderstanding. [Read: How to get a life – 20 things you MUST do to feel alive again]

17. Avoid playing games

It’s very tempting to play mind games in order to have the upper hand in the early stages of dating.

From trying to make them jealous to purposely waiting a long time to answer a text, those games just get old. No one likes to have their mind messed with, so just don’t do it. This is one piece of texting etiquette you must follow.

18. Be genuine

Just be yourself! If you want to say certain things, then do it. If you don’t want to talk about some topics, then don’t. Just be genuine.

After all, if you aren’t, they won’t fall in love with your true self. Instead, they will fall for a fake version, and you can’t keep up the fake version forever. [Read: 33 secrets to be true to yourself and 15 signs you need to unfake your life]

19. Say nice things

You don’t have to play hard to get. Sure, some people like doing it and it does work sometimes. But when that happens, the other person wonders if you really like them or not. So, it’s important to reassure them of your level of interest.

You can text things like, “I’m so excited for our next date!” or “That date last night was one of the best ones I’ve ever had!” They will appreciate it. [Read: 20 funny compliments you can use to flatter and make them laugh]

20. Know when to initiate

Except for certain occasions, men are almost always expected to be the ones to initiate a texting conversation in the early stages of dating. 

The same can be said after dates. However, it’s completely acceptable for women to text the guy with a “thank you for last night” or “I had a great time yesterday” to initiate a conversation. 

Sometimes you just need to be a little brave and go for it! [Read: Romantic gestures from the olden days all girls miss]

21. Never text when you’re drinking

This deserves repeating over and over in all texting etiquette guides. When you’re tipsy or drunk, the chances are, you have fewer inhibitions. That means you’re going to say something you’ll probably wish you hadn’t the next morning. 

As a general rule, put your phone away when you’re drinking. You could even have a pact with your friends on a night out – look out for one another to avoid accidental texting! 

22. Don’t text when you’re upset

As with actual in-person conversations, try to keep your thumbs away from your phone when you’re upset. You might say something that will only make the situation worse. 

Even if you don’t mean any harm, there’s always that chance that your text message will be misunderstood. That means you’ll have a world of confusion to sort out when you’re starting to feel better. It’s not worth the headache. [Read: When a guy stops texting you – the sad, mad, and pissed off girl’s guide]

23. Keep it short and sweet 

Fewer words mean fewer mistakes. This is especially true in the realm of texting and dating. 

Remember, the recipient can’t see you as you type the words, so they can’t ask questions to clarify. Avoid lengthy messages that give you more opportunities to be misunderstood. Keep it short and sweet. 

24. Text once and then put the phone down

Have you ever had someone send you the same text multiple times back-to-back? It’s annoying, right? The more texts you send at a time, the more desperate and needier you appear. 

Though you might feel that you were ignored or left hanging without a response, fight the urge to resend the message. Distract yourself and know that perhaps they’re just busy. If they don’t reply, that’s their issue and not yours. [Read: What does it mean when someone’s ignoring your texts on purpose?]

25. Use exclamation points sparingly

It’s not all about spelling and grammar, but the proper use of punctuation too. This is one of the main texting etiquette rules. 

Far too many people overdo it with exclamation marks and it can be seriously annoying to read! Moderation is key here. Too many exclamation points and you appear childish and annoying. [Read: How to text a girl you like and make her want you]

26. Don’t be passive-aggressive

Being passive-aggressive is unacceptable in real life, which means the same rules apply to texting. There are many ways you can be passive-aggressive through text, and it can frustrate the other person. 

As always, it’s best to speak in person and talk about your feelings instead of taking the underhanded route. [Read: Modern dating trends you need to dump immediately]

27. Don’t make big decisions over text

Don’t make up or break up over text. This is definitely one of those times when you should talk in person. 

If you want the other person to feel as special as they truly are to you, save your declarations of love for when you see them. There is nothing wrong with a cute emoji or two, but save the declaration for a more suitable occasion. 

28. Don’t be sneaky

Another etiquette of texting is not to pry into your date’s phone. It’s a huge invasion of their privacy and shows a lack of trust on your part. 

You can’t have your date sensing this early in your relationship, as you will only turn them off completely. No peeking over their shoulder or side glancing! [Read: 15 cell phone rules all couples need to follow in a new relationship]

29. Acknowledge a good date

Whether you believe in traditions or not, it’s a show of courtesy to acknowledge a good date. 

You can text your date about how much fun you had once you get home, or, even better, the following day. Just be sure to be sincere about it if you are expecting another date.

30. Don’t resort to fashionable slang

You might think you’re being hip and down with the youth… but sending a line of slang language that even you don’t fully understand won’t give the right impression. Stick to actual words and sentences if you want to show the real you. 

31. Be mindful of the time

Be mindful of what the other person could be doing at certain times of the day. Avoid calling and even texting at odd hours. 

Not only might you be waking them up at 2 a.m., but texting at odd hours also makes you look needy, weird, or inconsiderate. [Read: Is it a booty call or a flirty hello? How to respond to late-night texts]

32. Time your responses

When you’re dating, especially in the early stages, texting etiquette suggests that it’s best to keep it cool at first. While you’re not being insincere or keeping up appearances, you are protecting yourself by not looking too eager. 

Avoid replying right away with every text. This also gives you enough time to go over your responses so you don’t make any mistakes. [Read: How to be mysterious without being too distant]

33. Don’t text anything you wouldn’t say in person

Hiding behind your phone is one of the worst ways to start any relationship. It makes you appear shady and insincere. Be sure that whatever you say through text is something you can stand by and even repeat in person.

34. Don’t overdo the emojis

Using plenty of emojis in one text message can make you look downright weird. 

Emojis are meant to drive your point home, add a cute effect to what you’re saying, and ensure that your tone is getting across. If you overdo it, you’re not making a point, you’re drawing pictures. [Read: How guys text when they like you – 28 things they do differently]

35. Forget junk texts, they’re literal junk

Avoid texting them quotes, or worse, chain texts that send a curse or a “promise” if you don’t send to x number of people. You will not get the attention that you’re seeking with those junk texts, so it’s best to keep things short and relevant.

36. Double check you’ve got the right number

Another top texting etiquette rule is to ensure you’ve correctly put their number into your phone! 

Can you imagine texting someone randomly and telling them how great the date was? Or, even worse, it turns out to be someone you know? Double-check at all times! [Read: What to do when you’ve sent a sexy text to someone else]

37. Don’t send attachments

You might think you’re sending something fun or something of interest, but most people think you’re sending a virus when they see an attachment on anything technological. Your text isn’t going to get read and they might wonder what you’re trying to do to their phone. 

38. Never resort to ghosting

Texting etiquette isn’t all about when things are going well, it’s also about how it ends. Never ghost someone. That means that you just cut all communication and avoid them like the plague. 

If you want to end it, be brave enough to explain why. If you don’t, you leave them hanging and risk them nagging you more over it. Ghosting isn’t cute, in fact, it’s horrible. [Read: What is “ghosting” and how does it affect you]

39. ‘K is never okay

Never send “K” as a reply. It’s the worst type of reply. The other person is going to spend the next few hours wondering what they did wrong until you reply and tell them that you were pushed for time. Don’t be mean, even if you don’t intend to be. Just wait until you have more time.

40. Mind your surroundings

It’s normal to want to text your new beau all the time, but always be mindful of the other people around you. Texting etiquette dictates that you should never be embroiled in a text conversation when you’re trying to have a face-to-face conversation with someone else.

Don’t be rude. [Read: Why are people rude & mean to nice people, and ways to deal with them]

41. Not every text needs an immediate response

It’s difficult to manage not causing the other person to feel like you’re ignoring them and recognizing when a text doesn’t need a response. A text conversation has to come to a natural end somehow!

It’s also important to remember that not all texts need a response. Think carefully before replying, or not replying, as the case may be.

42. Don’t text bad news

There are some things you shouldn’t text at all. We’ve mentioned breaking up, but any bad news should be saved for in-person conversations. Remember, texts can be read incorrectly or taken the wrong way, and bad news doesn’t need this complication added to it. [Read: Ways to break the bad news without a huge blowout]

43. Don’t text while driving or walking

It goes without saying that you should never text while driving as it takes your attention away from the road. It’s super dangerous.

But you should also avoid texting and walking too. You might accidentally walk into the road or bump into someone. So, if you’re going to text, stand still and do it!

44. Don’t put others in the situation of texting while driving

This goes hand in hand with choosing your time to text and it’s a key part of texting etiquette. If you know they’re driving home from work or heading off somewhere, don’t choose that time to text.

They might not want to wait to reply and end up putting themselves in danger. [Read: Should I text him first or wait for him to text me?]

Red flags to watch out for with texting

As with anything in life, there are a lot of red flags to look out for. And texting in the early stages of dating is a time when you really need to be on the lookout for them.

1. Sexual content

As we said earlier, you don’t want to get into sexual text content in the early stages of dating. So, if someone is asking you about your favorite sex positions or sending you naked photos, then you should drop them.

Obviously, they are only after sex and not a real relationship with you.

2. Disappearing

If someone has been consistently texting you, but all of a sudden they disappear for a day or two *or even a week or more*, then that’s a red flag.

It not only says the person isn’t reliable, but it also says that they’re not really that interested in you. They could even be on to the next person or are texting multiple people at the same time. [Read: 34 big relationship red flags most people completely ignore early on]

3. Texting 24/7

On the other end of the spectrum, if someone is smothering you by texting you at all hours of the day, then that is bad too. It shows desperation and a lack of personal boundaries either.

4. Angry outbursts

If you sense indirect or direct tones of anger, then you should run away fast. If they are getting a little angry over text in the early stages of dating, then what do you think they will be like when you’re in a relationship?

They are supposed to be on their best behavior. So, they will be a nightmare – and probably abusive – later down the road. [Read: Ways to handle dating someone with anger issues]

Texting etiquette will see you through the early stages of dating

The early stages of dating are confusing, so when you’re trying to get everything right, a few rules can be helpful! That’s why texting etiquette is actually a very positive thing to learn about.

Not only will you get your message across accurately, but you won’t cross over any red lines that could jeopardize your budding relationship before it’s even got off the ground.

[Read: 15 text conversation starters for the shy that work like a charm]

Texting in the early stages of dating isn’t easy at all! You’re nervous and want to impress your date. But don’t worry; if you follow these habits, you’ll be on the right path. 

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Vinod Srinivas Serai
Vin Serai
Vin Serai is the founder of LovePanky.com, and has delved deep into the working of love and relationships for almost two decades. Having dipped his feet in almo...