“Bad Texter” or Just Not That Into You?

Few things can match the heady exhilaration of dating someone and building momentum through regular texting and a sense of closeness. But what about when the texting on their end is . . . kind of slow and intermittent . . .

Over time, you can find yourself feeling increasingly frustrated or anxious because of their lack of texting or calling.

In this week’s video, I dig into a really common mistake people make in this area.

Have you dealt with this issue before? Be sure to drop me a comment . . . I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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Do you find yourself in the early stages of dating someone right now and getting increasingly frustrated or even anxious that they’re not texting you or calling you as much as you want? And you find yourself wondering, is this person just bad at texting or are they really just not that into me, in which case I am going to get hurt here. This is tricky because early on in dating, we don’t feel or even have a right to tell someone that they should text us more. If we’ve only just met someone on an app or even we’ve only been on a date with them and they’re texting us less than we would like, it’s hard to say, “Hey, I want you to reach out more.” Because that person might be like, “Hey, I just met you and you are not such a big part of my life yet.”

And that’s true. At that point, someone doesn’t know us that well. We’ve not become a priority to someone. They have other things going on in their life, I hope. And therefore we might not be getting as much communication as our ego would like, but it doesn’t mean it’s the wrong amount of communication we’re getting. However, over time, and by that I mean days and weeks, not months, the amount of communication should build. There should be a trajectory to the communication. We should feel like there’s momentum building, there is a sense of progress. If we feel no progress, that’s a problem. So this is the first thing I want you to think about when you’re trying to ascertain whether someone is just not great at certain forms of communication or whether they just don’t like you all that much is, is the communication improving?

The second thing I want you to think about is the difference between inconsistency and scarcity. If someone is inconsistent with their communication, if one day they send you lots and lots of messages and they’re really gushy and they’re all over you, and then you don’t hear from them for four days, that’s a problem. That’s inconsistency. And inconsistency is often a red flag. It’s a sign of something worse. It might be that they’re just seeing multiple people and they’re juggling you with other people and they’re not really invested in this relationship at all. It might be that they’ve got a kind of novelty based fast food attitude toward their dating life with you where when they want something, they’re all over you, whether it’s attention or validation or sex, but then as soon as they don’t want something anymore, they’re off to the next thing and they don’t want to know you at all. That’s a problem.

Scarcity is different from inconsistency. Scarcity is when the communication isn’t necessarily inconsistent, but you just don’t feel like you’re getting enough of it. Now, like I said, in the very beginning, that might just be because you’re not a priority to someone yet, and that’s okay. But as things progress, if there’s still a scarcity of communication, you’re not getting as much as you would like, then we have to look at, is this because someone doesn’t like you or is it because they just don’t value communication in the way that you do? It’s hard to have a conversation about this without someone asking like, what’s the right amount? What’s the right amount of texting someone in dating? What’s the right amount of calling when they’re not with you?

And there is no right answer to that. The answer is somewhere between no communication at all and so much communication that you communicate you have no life. In the middle is just compatibility. How much do you need? How much do they need? And that’s where a lot of issues arise. What’s frustrating is that a lot of conversations between people around this end up being debates about texting, the value of texting or the value of phone calls. It’s typical for clients to come to me and say, “I’m dating someone and they tell me that they just, they’re a bad texter. They’re just really, I’m just crap at texting. I’m just no good at texting.” Or they say, “I’m just really bad with my phone, or I hate phone calls. I just, I can’t stand being on the phone. It drives me crazy.”

Some people may even have a noble reason for it. “I just try to reduce my screen time. I don’t like being on my phone all the time. I feel like I want to put it down. And if I’m texting all the time, then I’m constantly checking my phone.” Whatever the reason, the danger is that when we think about that, we get drawn into the weeds of what should actually be a much more fundamental conversation. The fundamental conversation is not one of arguing about the medium, it’s assessing your need for closeness. Closeness is about how connected you feel to a person when you’re not spending time together in person.

In other words, each day, do you feel like you’re connected to that person’s life? Do you feel like you know anything about what’s going on in their day, or what they’re going through or what their moods are, what the highlights of their day are? Do they know anything about your day? And if too many days in a row the answer is we’re not connected, we know nothing about each other’s day or how we’re feeling, then there’s a problem of closeness, not just a kind of argument to be had about communication.

I think that we get dragged down these alleyways that are not all that important when we argue, but I like texting, I hate texting, but I just wish you would text me because I really enjoy it. Now you’re having a debate about texting as a concept, but what is your need for a text really? It’s not your need for words on a screen, your need for a text is your need to feel close to somebody. I don’t really care where people get their closeness as long as they get it. If someone doesn’t text you but they’re amazing at calling you, that can solve that problem. If someone is great at leaving you voice memos, if they’re like, I hate texting, but they leave you these beautiful voice notes and they tell you about their day and they ask you about yours, then you have closeness.

You see, it’s not about the medium. It’s about the level of closeness. And what I want to encourage you to do is think about this way of framing up the conversation when you bring your grievances to somebody. If you are not getting your needs met, then I want you to go to somebody and have a conversation about connection and closeness, not a debate about a medium. So you can say to somebody, “Hey, look, I know, I get that you don’t love being on your phone or sitting on your phone on a phone call isn’t something that you are naturally drawn towards, but the truth is, I just don’t feel close to you when we’re not together because we’re not in each other’s lives. We’re not talking to each other.

And that for me is an issue because I don’t want to just wait till the next time I see you to feel like I know anything about your day or you know anything about mine. So for me, it’s just I want to be close to the person that I’m with and I don’t feel close when we’re not together. So can we work on that? Can we fix that?” That opens up a dialogue about something much more important than whether someone likes texting and they can’t distract you with that conversation.

And by the way, the way I’m having the conversation is something that it is a way to have the conversation further down the line. If you are in early dating with someone, you’ve been on a few dates, there’s attraction there, but you feel like you don’t hear from the person enough, you can point that out. You can make fun of it. “You are a terrible texter,” and let them respond. “Well, I just don’t really like texting.” “Okay. Well, then pick up the phone and call me. I want to hear from you. I miss your voice.”

You don’t have to be meek about these things. You can even be a bit bold but cute at the same time and text someone and say, “You need to text me more. Okay, bye. Kiss.” A text like that is playfully demanding, but it also does send a message to someone. And if it ever graduates into a bigger conversation, maybe you’re in person sometime and you end up talking about it, again, just you don’t have to get in the weeds about it, just make it a conversation about I like to hear from you or I want to hear from you more, and let it be that.

Now, if ultimately the result of that conversation is somebody saying, “I just don’t like texting, I don’t like phone calls, and I’m only going to be able to give this much communication when we’re not together,” and that really falls short of your needs, then you have an issue of compatibility. Even if you do like me, we are not compatible because I don’t feel close to the person I’m with, not nearly close enough to be happy. I don’t even need to ask myself the question, are you into me? The question really becomes, am I happy? Am I happy with the way that you communicate? And if the answer is no, it doesn’t matter if they’re into you or not.

Of course, there are always going to be moments between people where you’re 20% apart, right? It could be that you’re in a relationship, not just early dating, it could be you’re in a relationship where you have amazing date nights and quality time together in the evenings, but during someone’s working day, they don’t text you as much as you would like. But maybe when they’re in work mode, they really do lose themselves in work mode.

And that might be a conversation about, “Hey, I know that when you’re at work, you kind of just get into a flow and you lose yourself and you don’t want to be on your phone in that time. I get that. But even if you, at lunchtime, just sent me a message telling me that you love me, that would go a long way.” Those are conversations about preferences, about something that would be nice to have, something that would mean a lot to you, but it’s not necessarily a fundamental conversation about a lack of closeness and connection in the relationship.

The conversation someone has with you about being a bad texter or being bad with their phone or not liking being on the phone is a distraction. The conversation you should be having with someone is, “Whatever is the case about what you do and don’t like, I need to feel like I’m close to the person that I’m with. And if I don’t feel that, that’s a problem for me.” If someone feels that kind of powerful energy from you talking about something actually meaningful and important, not texting, they’re going to have to elevate their conversation too, and you’ll quickly find out whether this is a person who’s interested in investing more and making sure there’s closeness, or whether this was someone who was just using texting as an excuse for the fact that they were never really into the relationship in the first place.

One of the things I have found over the years is that the biggest barrier to us having standards and being able to communicate boldly and confidently our standards to somebody else is our deeper level confidence. When we don’t feel we’re worthy of great treatment, when we don’t feel we’re worthy of someone’s attention or love or a relationship, we get meek. We don’t ask for what we want, or if we do, we do it in a way that communicates to someone that they can keep giving us scraps because we’re not going anywhere.

The root to an amazing love life is having real confidence at the deepest level. And I realized this over 10 years ago, which is why I created my Retreat program because I wanted a place where I could not give people dating tips but give people the fundamentals of self-confidence and self-worth that meant that they would never, ever have a problem asking for what they wanted again. And the irony is when we have that energy, people start to pay attention to us differently. We’re attractive on a whole new level, not just in our love lives but when it comes to jobs and opportunities and friendships. Life suddenly starts presenting us with whole new opportunities when we have that energy.

For the first time in two and a half years, my in-person Retreat that I’ve been running for over a decade is back. It is a six-day process, it is happening in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. And this might be your last chance to apply. So if you want to learn more, I want to invite you to find out more at MHRetreat.com. I have a team of three amazing people, Emma, Michael, and Charlotte, who are all waiting to talk to you about the program, learn your story and hear anything that you might have to ask. Come check it out at MHRetreat.com, and I very much hope that I get to see you in Florida.

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3 Replies to ““Bad Texter” or Just Not That Into You?”

  • Wilma from Utah.
    I’m feeling rejected a lot on the eHarmony app. I have the impression that because I’mm a Brazilian woman.
    What can I do?

  • Wilma from Utah.
    I’m feeling rejected a lot on the eHarmony app. I have the impression that because I’m a Brazilian woman.
    What can I do?

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