News Flash: He’s Not a “Bad Texter,” He’s Just Not That Into You

A breakdown of healthy texting in the early stages

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Image by Paula Boudes

Scenario: My friend Hadley went on a great second date with a guy two weeks ago. After dinner, they went back to his apartment, fooled around, and she left feeling light as a feather. “I’ll text you,” he said, kissing her on the forehead by the door. But then, it wasn’t until two Fridays later that he shot her a text saying, “Sorry I’ve been MIA—wasn’t feeling well.” And this has led her to a justification that I hear all the time: he’s just a bad texter.

Is it possible that this guy was, indeed, rotting away with the flu for the last two weeks? Absolutely. Is it also safe to say that his thumbs worked while he was out of commission? You betcha. And this is an ugly truth that took years for me to accept: your textpectations are too low. He’s not a bad texter; he's just not that into you

First, let’s address Hadley’s dilemma. Much as I’d love to combat TikTok’s advice of “if he wanted to he would,” it’s an unpleasant reality of early dating. Ultimately, if this guy was thinking about Hadley, he’d let her know it. Our entire generation is glued to our phones, and if the guy you’re crushing on allows 14 days to pass without so much as a ‘Hey, how ya doin’?’ it’s safe to say that you’re probably not on his mind. (If it makes you feel better, I once had a guy tell me this when he was breaking up with me outside of a club in Midtown.) 

This is an open-and-shut case of an indifferent texter—as in, someone who probably doesn’t see the relationship becoming serious. Yet, in some cases, it’s not always so cut and dry. A big question I get is, How long is *too long* to go without communication? Plus, What if he’s staying in contact but he takes hours to respond? My answer is simple: Over-texting in the early stages can lead to lovebombing and a false sense of intimacy. That’s why, if his messages are curt but he’s consistently checking in to plan the dates, it doesn’t make him a bad texter... it means he’s a healthy texter.

Still not sure where you stand? Here’s a suggested timeline of when you should be expecting to hear from him.

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A Guide to When You Should Hear From Him If You Struggle with Low Textpectations

Stage: Before Meeting IRL

  • Max # of Days Before He Should Text: The first text should be to plan the date (at least 2-3 days before). Then, there should be a text on the day of the date to confirm (by afternoon latest). Bonus if you get an ‘I’m here’ message if he arrives before you.

Let’s say you meet a guy at a bar on Saturday. Or maybe, you match with someone on Hinge on Sunday. By end of day Monday or Tuesday afternoon, you should have a date planned for later that week. It shouldn’t be paragraphs back and forth about what your childhoods were like or links to your favorite playlists—save all of that for the first date! Before you go out, the texting should be about one thing: Planning the date. (Spoiler: If you're still waiting by the phone for him to confirm the first date at 6 p.m., he's probably not your guy.)

Stage: Dates 1-3

  • Max # of Days Before He Should Text: 3 days. If you’re going on consistent dates, but you’re only hearing from him once or twice a week, he’s probably not in the market for something serious.

In the extremely early stages, texting should become about consistently planning the dates. (This is usually the time when I hear the “he’s a bad texter” argument most.) In terms of consistency, if you go out on Thursday, he’s checking in on Sunday to see what your week looks like. Or maybe, if you went out on Wednesday, he hits you up on Saturday (before 10 p.m., that is—beware of the booty call guy). Either way, the texts should be mostly about coordinating when you’ll see each other next with some small talk sprinkled in. 

In this stage, Niko from The Daddy Academy (aka my favorite TikTok account) puts it best: “There are two main reasons you should be texting: 1) to set the dates. If there’s communication and no date being set, it’s pointless conversation. Use texting here to set the dates.” Then, he says, the second reason for texting during dates 1-3 is to “create and maintain comfort.” You’re not over-texting to the point where it’s obsessive but you’re maintaining enough back and forth to feel “comfortable with the progression of things.”

Stage: Dates 4-7+

  • Max # of Days Before He Should Text: 1-2 days. At this point, you should probably be checking in frequently. The texts don't have to be long-winded but the communication is consistent.

This is when texting becomes about following your gut. If you’re four or five dates in with someone you’re starting to like, the communication should almost mimic that of you and your friends. You’re not overthinking when to answer or what to say—and you’re definitely not worried that you’ll never see him again. Once he’s established that he wants to see you (and continue seeing you) it’s about feeling comfortable in the cadence of your conversation.

The Bottom Line: All things in dating are dependent on you and the pace you’re comfortable with. Yet, while texting can be a useful tool to stay in contact, it can also lead to a relationship fizzling out before it begins. If he’s texting to plan the dates—and you’re feeling confident about where you stand when you’re together—I’d focus less on the content of the texts and more on whether he’s being consistent. After all, if you’re getting to know someone, you might as well save your best stories for in-person (trust me, that story about your roommate will be way funnier after you’re two martinis in). 

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Associate Editor

Sydney Meister is PureWow's Associate Editor, covering everything from dating trends and relationship advice (here's looking at you, 'soonicorns') to interior design, beauty...