It's an age-old dilemma: How soon is too soon to get in touch with a romantic prospect? Does it differ depending on whether it’s after you've met, matched on Tinder, been on a date or hooked up? And how long is way too long to leave it before striking up some form of communication? It's a constant tension between appearing overly excited and coming across as aloof or even rude, and it can be difficult to know where to strike the balance.
While the dilemma is an ancient one, our pace of communication has sped up drastically in the last few years, and expectations are far from clear-cut these days. You may be expected to get in touch sooner than a guy would have been 10 or even five years ago, but that doesn't mean it's not still possible to come across as overbearing and too eager.
With that in mind, let's take a closer look at how you should determine the ideal amount of time to leave it before you text her, and what you need to consider before making the decision to get in touch:
1. How Do You Feel?
First of all, pay attention to your own instincts. You know how people are always telling you to "just be yourself" when it comes to dating? Well, it's scary, and it might make you feel like you're constantly going to ruin everything, but it's ultimately the best way to go. As a baseline (and very general) rule, you should be texting her when it feels right for you to do so.
Naina, a 25-year-old social media editor, agrees: "'When should I text her' shouldn't be the most prominent question that runs through your mind after seeing her," she says. "Don't play games — the whole ‘wait three days’ rule is a page that should be burned out of your playbook immediately."
"If you want to text her the second she puts her panties on and leaves, do it," she continues. "If you want to text her next week when you have a free minute on the toilet, also do it. Do what you heart and head desire (whichever head that may be). PS: use a meme. [We] love memes!"
2. How Did You Meet?
The question of how long you should wait until you text her depends in part upon the circumstances in which you met. There is going to be a range of appropriate texting times depending on whether you met in a bar, on Tinder or through mutual friends.
Online dating sites or dating apps like Tinder tend to invite a quicker pace of communication than IRL meetings. If you match with someone on Tinder, for example, there's no real need to leave it a few days before saying hi — it's not going to make you seem mysterious or aloof so much as signal that you're not planning on writing her a message at all. Plenty of Tinder matches don't turn into conversations, so saving your opening too long will simply give the impression that it's not going anywhere. It's better to seize the moment, say hi and get the ball rolling so that you can link up in real life as soon as possible.
If you met in a bar or at a party, though, it might pay to leave it until the next day before getting in touch, as texting within hours (or minutes!) of meeting may be seen as you coming on too strong. This is not a hard and fast rule, though. Naina, for example, is not fussed how quickly men text, regardless of how they know each other. "It doesn't make a difference to me," she says. "How you met shouldn't really impact how [quickly] you text."
3. How Are Things Between You?
How quickly you text the girl in your sights will also depend on how well you already know her. If you’re complete strangers, you’ll have to have a different approach compared to texting a crush you know through work or friends.
As a very rough rule of thumb, the better you know her, the more OK it is to text her as soon as you feel like it. If you were strangers who exchanged numbers at a bar or party, or if you’ve been on a date and it went well, texting the next day is about right. If, however, you already have an established relationship that you're looking to intensify or take to the next level, it's going to be more natural to text her whenever you have something appropriate to say.
Rita, a 29-year-old film critic, agrees: "I think how long you've known someone plays a big role. If it's someone you've known through mutual circles or an acquaintance you're already familiar with, then it's nice to get a text fairly soon. Depending on the level of closeness, that could be a same evening, "Hope you got home well/I had fun!" text, or a next day "Well I've got a headache this morning"-type one. Something short but sweet, to keep the momentum going."
"If it's a complete stranger, at least a day or two later to keep things on a chilled and casual vibe, but the standard three days is pushing it a bit long in my books," she explains. "As the pace of our lives has picked up, so too have dating standards, which means waiting that long could well mean the energy you had with someone is lost by that point or someone else has grabbed their attention. In short, dating games are shit — if you're interested in someone just be honest and keep up contact with them."
4. What Do You Want To Say?
The "when should I text her?" question also depends somewhat on what you're planning to say. If you're asking for a date or second date, for example, you may want to give it a little bit more time than if you're simply checking in to see how her day's going or sharing a song you've discussed before that she hasn't heard yet.
Jake Indiana, a 23-year-old actress, elaborates: "My experience has led me to distrust anyone that immediately texts you after a date, but what the text says is even more crucial than the timing. A simple “hey” or “had a great time” ranges from dull to severe eye-roll. An inspiring text back is one that requires subtlety and/or cleverness. Calling back to a joke you made the night before or referencing a conversation? Aces. It shows that you were actually listening and being thoughtful."
Bearing this in mind, it's probably worth waiting a little longer to craft an engaging text rather than firing off the first thing that comes to mind when you decide you want to send a text message. That might mean you take a little bit longer to send the first text, but it doesn't mean you need to be spending hours and hours poring over your approach — it's not that hard to think up a simple, witty, engaging message, and while you should aim to be original and creative, it is possible to overthink things here.
5. How Traditional Is She?
You may not know the answer to this with any degree of certainty, but women vary in terms of how traditional they are and whether they care about being formally wooed over a period of days or weeks, or are more relaxed about a quicker, modern pace of communication.
While there's a general consensus that texting too soon is going to make you appear overly eager and texting too late is just rude, women are going to vary on what counts as "too early" and "too late". These days, though, fewer and fewer women express a desire for men to leave things a long time — so, as a ballpark figure, think in the realm of two to 24 hours, rather than three or four days like dating guides in the ’90s used to advise — both Naina and Rita specifically mentioned that the "three-day rule" is severely outdated, so definitely don't take too long.
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So, all things considered, when is the perfect time to text her? As with almost everything, it depends. How you met her, what your intentions are, what your existing relationship is like, what you're planning to say and how traditional she is are all factors that will play an important role in determining how long to leave it before getting in touch.
Texting somewhere in the region of two to 24 hours after you've met, matched on Tinder, been on a date or even hooked up (depending on which of those situations applies) is probably a safe zone. However, the short answer is that it's up to you when you want to text her: do what feels right for you and trust your gut — based on an advised reading of the situation! — and you can't go too far wrong.