Are you one of those guys that my single girlfriends hate texting with? (Note: If you’re female you’ll still like this and will also benefit from the tips)
Let me tell you a story that I’ve heard many times over from single people trying to date.
A girlfriend of mine Kelly, meets a guy named Greg on an online dating site, they both “like” each other, message a bit and finally exchange numbers.
What happens next?
The same exact thing that just happened through the dating site, more messaging.
Texts, texts and more texts. Instead of getting to the point, this messaging exchange lasts days. They are talking about everything under the sun, except the most important thing… dating!
Greg thinks things are going well as the banter continues, but here’s what Kelly is really thinking:
- Why are we bantering about non-sense? Get to the point! We can talk about all this stuff….over a date. (I totally agree)
- Well I met him on a dating site so he probably has dates lined up all week with other girls. (mmmm, probably not)
- He’s not serious about dating or getting into a relationship. (not necessarily)
- What a loser. If he can’t ask me out, I don’t want to waste my time texting. (partially right. The sad part is he may be a really great guy, but she’ll never know).
While you may think that asking questions about how their day was or what they’re up to this weekend without inviting them to do anything is innocent, you’re actually frustrating the heck out of the other person!
Now let’s be clear, this is something both males and females get wrong and either of the sexes can step up to the plate and initiate a date.
For those of you who struggle with turning dialogue into dates and find that offline or online “matches” just fizzle by the wayside, I want to offer a few texting tips you can use to increase the odds of a response and a date!
Tip #1: Stop being lazy and stand out
Perhaps you don’t put in a lot of thought or energy into how you communicate. This could be because you’re unsure of how to communicate, you don’t have a lot of dating experience or you just don’t think it’s important.
Please don’t take the easy way out. Of course it’s easy to start a text conversation by saying “hey” and then waiting for a response. But is that really the way you want to portray yourself?
Of course not! The way you communicate is important, when you’re texting the words you use are the only chance you have to show who you are and it makes a huge difference in the way you’re perceived.
When you’re texting, the only mode of communication you really have are your words so choose them wisely. It’s easy to say “hey wassup” or if they ask how you’re doing you may say “fine, u?”
But what do people who stand out do?
They use language that elicits emotions.
The other day I hopped in an Uber. I asked the driver how he was doing and he emphatically said “Glorious!” that got a smile out of me even though I was in a hurry to get to work.
Using colorful language is a great way to stand out and also show that you’re putting some effort into the exchange. Compare these two text invitations for a date on Saturday night:
“Hey Kelly, wanna grab dinner tomorrow at this great Thai restaurant?”
“Hi Kelly! Wanna grab dinner at this amazing Thai restaurant tomorrow? Their food is superb, I know you like spicy and their food will knock your socks off.”
Do you see how the second text used fun words like “amazing” and “superb” along with a metaphor “the spice will knock your socks off” that gave it some color?
The second text brings some imagination and fun into an otherwise boring conversation and increases your odds of a response. So don’t be lazy, the next few tips will help you come up with texts that are thoughtful and interesting.
Tip #2: Don’t be Afraid to Open Up
Sometimes it’s hard to avoid the superficial messaging back and forth and it simply comes across as lazy. So here’s an easy formula you can use to take the conversation to a deeper level, it’s called the “yes and…” technique and a lot of improv actors use this.
The idea is to answer a question and then elaborate with more detail. Here’s an example:
Kelly: I work in finance, you work at a startup right?
You: Yes [yes], [and..] the startup I work for is called XYZ. It’s pretty cool, we’re the Uber for cat-sitters! Is your job just as fun?
Okay unless your company really does that, you wouldn’t say that…but you get the idea. You answer the question and then give a bit more depth to the conversation.
This will help the other person pick up on some conversational cues and get to know you better. By sharing something about yourself you show that you’re willing to be vulnerable and this can increase your likeability.
Still scared to be a bit vulnerable?
In an interesting study, two women demonstrated a blender at the mall. The first woman had a perfect performance, the second one “forgot” to put the lid on the blender and it the juice went everywhere! Guess who was found to be more likeable? Model number two who screwed up! Turns out she was perceived as more likeable because her vulnerability “humanized” her.
So don’t be afraid to open up and be human! It helps build rapport and it also paves the way for the other person to share something personal about themselves too.
Tip #3: Be direct and propose a time
Let’s go back to my friend Kelly…what’s the guy supposed to do? Or better yet, what should she be doing to step up and ask for the date?
Look, one of them has to take initiative, who should and why is a whole other long blog post. For now, let’s just figure out how either of them can land a date.
Luckily, there’s some data on this. It turns out that comedian Aziz Ansari was so fascinated about the way texting and dating works in our modern age, that he teamed up with sociologist Eric Klinenberg to survey single people in the US to get to some real answers.
They found out a few ways to optimize your chances of getting a responses to texts and their first tip is to propose a specific time and place.
Here’s why this works: when people have too many options offered to them it can leave them feeling overwhelmed and unable to decide, it’s called the paradox of choice.
In a classic experiment with fruit jams at a grocery store, researchers found that subjects who were exposed to only six varieties of jam versus those who were offered 24 varieties of jam were ten times more likely to purchase jam with the $1 coupon they were given. This phenomenon has been proven many times over.
So rather than leaving an invitation as open-ended, it’s way more effective to offer up a specific time, day and place. Let’s compare these two texts:
“I’d love to take you to dinner some time…”
“Wanna grab dinner next Tue at Lucca’s?”
The second text is firm about the invitation and by proposing a time and place you’re lowering the amount of mental effort the other person has to go through in order to say yes.
The point is to lower the friction involved for the other person to say yes. By suggesting a time frame (dinner), day, and venue you’ve already reduced the number of back and forth texts necessary to solidify the date.
Tip #4: Reference the last interaction
Another tip that Ansari and Kleinenberg suggested to get a response was to reference the last interaction you had with the person. This is even more effective if you liken it to something you remember learning about the other person. It shows that you were engaged and present in your last interaction. Whether that interaction was in-person or over text, you can still use this tip.
For example, here’s a text that Kelly can use to land a date with Greg:
Hey Greg, wanna grab dinner on Friday? You mentioned you like Italian and a great place just opened up downtown. I wanna see if you can eat as much as you say you can 🙂
Beyond referencing something personal you remembered about the other person, you can also refer to something funny or out of the ordinary that occurred the last time you were hanging out.
Perhaps the bar you were at was playing 80’s music that you both loved or your waiter was wearing a leopard leotard that’s funny to reference. Alright, I’m out of the 80’s flashbacks…but you get the idea.
The digital age has changed the way we interact, but at the end of the day old-school effective communication is key. By putting some effort in the way you communicate, showing vulnerability, lowering the paradox of choice and referencing your last interaction you can improve your dating life!