Ahh…remember the good old days? You know, when you could send a text and be absolutely certain that your message would be interpreted as you meant it. When being “ghosted” didn’t make you feel confused and irritated beyond belief. You remember, don’t you? No? 

Yeah, me neither.

The fact is, texting has always come with an unspoken rule book. Within it lies subtle, yet strict, guidelines about how long to wait before responding to a text, how to decode being left on read, when to use the yellow heart emoji versus the red one, blah blah blah. It doesn’t take long before you feel that this is all getting a little out of hand.

What is actually important to remember when it comes to communication via text? Here are five simple (and painfully punny) tips that will ensure your relationships aren’t hindered, but rather enhanced by how you text. 

Take a Selfie

By selfie, I mean a good, hard look at your own texting patterns. Be honest with yourself if you know that you’re the overthinker, the triple texter or the friend who’s always forgetting to respond to messages.

This part is about reflecting on what you’re bringing to the proverbial table. In doing so, you may gain insight into whether your conversation contributions are adding joy or stress to your life.

Check Your Battery (and Recharge) 

Phones give us constant access to one another which can, of course, promote connection. This also means that boundaries have never been more important. PSA: Your energy is your energy. No one is entitled to your time or communication.

When we constantly feel the need to stay up-to-date on messages and alerts, we are often pulled away from the life activities that keep us feeling healthy, energized and recharged. Not to mention, we are also way more susceptible to the headaches and eye strain that result from staring at a screen all day.

So check in with how you feel and don’t feel guilty about putting down your phone to take some tech-free time for you. (Bonus: When we respond to messages while feeling balanced and engaged, we avoid saying things we don’t mean or might regret later). 

Start a Group Chat

Not a real group chat. This tip is all about identifying who the people are in your life with whom communication is a priority. That may include your family, your friends and your colleagues. On the other hand, it definitely does not include the guy from the bar last night who is now seemingly uninterested and using only one-word answers. It also does not include the friend of a friend who always kind of rubbed you the wrong way.

These are not the interactions to stress over. Anytime a text conversation is leaving you with a pit in your stomach or feeling insecure, check if they belong to your exclusive “group chat.” If not, then re-evaluate how much energy you want to invest.  

Put Your Feelings in Caps Lock  

When I text my mom, I never have to wonder how she is feeling or if there is some hidden message. She has no problem sending a swift “ok” and she only says “LOL” when she’s laughing. It’s honestly the best. The lesson we can learn from straight talkers like my mama? Say what you mean.

Avoid the passive, cryptic messages and stand in your truth. If it’s all getting lost in translation, it’s okay to acknowledge that texting can really muddy up a convo. Opt for a more direct, clear method of communication instead. Which brings us to… 

The “OG” DM

This last texting tip requires, wait for it…no texting at all. Take it back to the basics by calling someone on the phone! This one may take an internal push depending on your comfort level, but you will be inviting an authentic, genuine interaction.

The result? Empathy and connection that will convey more than emojis and memes ever could.

Happy texting!

How do you maintain healthy friendships? What tips would you add to this list?

Illustration via Agata Rek, Darling Issue No. 22

3 comments

  1. I’m a self-aware triple texter. What better time to reflect on my own communication than the holidays!

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