Love in the Time of Texting

By Shawna Ryan, T-Mobile StoriesFebruary 10, 2023

Three renown dating coaches share their digital do’s, don’ts and total dealbreakers for making a truly special wireless connection.

Over the past couple of years, T-Mobile Stories has reported on various studies that have highlighted just how important the simple text message can be to connecting with friends and loved ones — and even shared T-Mobile network data to prove it.

Quick Read: “That ‘Thinking of You’ Text? You Should Send It”

And it seems like more outlets are taking the importance of text messaging to heart — somewhat literally. For instance: Recently, The New York Times chimed in on the text thread, saying how texting has become its own art form in the game of love, and that digitally savvy dating coaches are turning a keen focus on tailoring their skills towards perfecting the perfect text.

So, you ask, what’s the best (and worst) ways of using texting to make the ultimate wireless connection?

We also interviewed the three dating coaches, all of whom have created successful online courses to specifically answer common questions about finding love in the time of texting:

  • Damona Hoffman is a certified dating coach and podcaster who lends her digital coaching skills to OK Cupid and is the official love expert of The Drew Barrymore Show.
  • Kelsey Wonderlin is a licensed therapist-turned-dating coach who has noticed how outdated the advice being given was and became passionate about demystifying the new challenges that come from using the latest technology.
  • Blaine Anderson is a dating coach specifically geared towards male clients, and says her texting courses have become very popular of late, and even those who want to work with her for reasons other than texting wind up asking questions about it — and, as you’ll see below, for good reason.
Three dating coaches explain how texting has become our love language.

Tip 1: Talk About It (er, Text About It) Up Front

Kelsey: I encourage people to have these conversations upfront when they’re starting to date because potential matches can fizzle when you’re reading into something that’s not actually there. It’s not problematic necessarily if people are different types of texters, but can you talk about it? Maybe you want more texting and you don’t know how to say that without sounding needy. You can just simply say, “I’m finding myself wanting to share more of my day with you. Are you okay with me sending you some more messages?” I think it’s important not to assume that you know what’s happening on the other side of the phone without first understanding the way the other person views texting.

I have identified four types of texters:

  • The dry texter: You’ll see a lot of very short responses. Even just a “K” or a reaction to a message as a response.
  • The animated texter uses lots of emojis and texts a bunch, and can easily feel offended by the dry texter.
  • The compulsive texter: This person will send ten different thoughts one after the other.
  • The absent-minded texter: The opposite to the compulsive texter, someone who you won’t hear from for hours because the phone isn’t in their field of view.
Here Kelsey identifies four types of texters, and Damona and Blaine share their expertise for navigating the rollercoaster text courtship phase.

Blaine: It’s important to understand where people are coming from before you start the process. A lot of times I use attachment theory to help my clients understand why they might act the way they do or why other people act the way they do. I think those same theories can be applied to texting.

  • The anxious texter: They’re obsessively looking at their phone and maybe texting too much because they want a response
  • The avoidant texter: They are purposely not texting or responding to messages because that makes them safer.

Damona: I teach people how to communicate and how to text because that is now an official phase of courtship today. I’m really a dating strategist and I try to come up with systems and tools to help people so that they know what to do in each individual situation. But every text is different and every person that receives it is different.

I'm not surprised that people value internet connectivity above other things that we might see as necessities because that drive for human connection is way on top of the hierarchy of needs. Just having the ability to connect, whether it's through social media or dating apps or texting, we know that our phone is the gateway to that connection.

Damona Hoffman, Certified Dating Coach

Tip 2: Feeling Alone? Maybe Put Down the Phone

Damona: I give people a lot of tools where they can use their phone and technology to fortify themselves as a dater. My process isn’t just for Valentine’s Day. I’m helping people year-round and I acknowledge that this is a rollercoaster — there are going to be highs and lows. Every time you get a text, you get a boost of endorphins and you get a high, and then you don’t get the text back or the person says they don’t want to date you and suddenly you're experiencing a low. My goal is to help give people the tools so that they can ride those waves. And maybe that might be with meditations and visualizations that are a part of my course. I listen to those myself with other experts to help me get grounded when I feel like out of alignment or I have people do vision boards that they can send right from a digital platform.

Kelsey:  Approaching dating from a place of loneliness or boredom is not the vibe. It’s not the place to date from. I think it’s important that if you’re noticing that in yourself, can you meet that need in a different way through a club or a group of like-minded people. Even if you are in the moment wanting that relief on Valentine’s Night, there are Facebook groups you can join that you can get instant access to the connection you may be craving. I think it’s really important that we learn how to work through that on our own so that we can choose a partner for healthier reasons.

There's anxious attached and there's secure attached. A lot of times I use attachment theory to help my clients understand why they might act the way they do or why other people act the way they do. I think those same theories can be applied to texting.

Blaine Anderson, Dating Coach For Men

Tip 3: Beware the “Texting Trap”!

Damona: So often I see people that will connect with you on a dating app or will ask for your number out in the world, and will then get you stuck in what I call a “texting trap,” where you're going back and forth messaging and they actually have no intention to meet up or move offline. They’re just wasting time or passing time. That phase can sometimes last weeks or months, but I put a clock on it for my clients because they are staying in this prolonged period forever.

Kelsey: Nobody ever teaches us how to communicate, especially when it comes to texting. At what point do we bring that in real life? Because if you talk for too long online, when you meet up in person, it can feel a little awkward because from a biological perspective when you meet in real life, there might not be that felt sense of physical comfort yet. And yet you know all these things about each other, and it can feel really incongruent.

I find people are really hungry for information about how to attract a healthy relationship or a partner who is likely to be compatible with them in the long term. And when it comes down to texting, they ask should I double text or should I not? Should I delay? Who should text first? What I'm here to do is debunk and deconstruct the outdated dating advice and share the knowledge that I think everybody should have access to. 

Kelsey Wonderlin, Certified Dating Coach and Therapist

Tip 4: Incorporate Your Digital Dating Strategy IRL

Blaine: People don’t always know how to communicate their feelings or needs and people don’t always know how to interpret other’s writings or texts. And the fact is when you meet somebody in person, you’re still going to be using your phone to text them, to have voice calls, to have video calls, to be on social media, to share memes, so a lot of technology is going to play into your relationship no matter what.

Damona: Technology has changed the way we interact in real life. But when you go to the bar today, what’s everybody doing? They’re looking down at their phones. So it’s almost a different strategy that I’ve had to develop to incorporate technology in the real world as well as teach people how to make a connection simply on their phone.

Feeling Ghosted In Your Textationship? Do This, Not That!

Now you have a plan for texting to find true love! But do you have the right cell phone plan to text “forget me nots” when the mood strikes?