For most of us, texting multiple people throughout the day is as normal as brushing our teeth or fixing dinner after work. We don't necessarily think about the thousands of tiny bubbles we've sent between loved ones over the years—we just continue building on them, one response after another. That is, unless, we've received a new number and the message screen is blank. Now what?
"Starting a text conversation depends on the scenario," Carmelia Ray, an online dating expert and advisor to the WooYouApp, says. "You want to be really mindful of the personality type and communication preference of the person."
Meet the Expert
Carmelia Ray is an online dating expert and celebrity matchmaker. She's also an author and certified dating coach who co-hosts the largest online dating, date coaching and matchmaking conference in the world called iDate.
The Pros and Cons of Texting
We all know that the ease of texting makes it the preferred choice for simple conversations or for multitasking, and experts say it can help introverts especially manage interactions. Most of us are experienced with the downsides of that convenience, too, which Ray calls the "misrepresentation and misunderstanding" that occurs when tone and context are lost. Case in point: A Psychology Today article writes just 7 percent of communication happens through content of the message, while everything else happens through body language, vocal tone, emphasis, and pitch.
Similarly, there are some conversations that are better off having over the phone or in-person. Take it from relationship expert Lisa Concepcion of LoveQuest Coaching. "My rule of thumb is, if you can't express something in two easy sentences, then it's too heavy a topic for text. Pick up the phone and have a conversation," Concepcion says.
Either way, when it comes to building a relationship with someone new—romantic or not—texting, when used in tandem with other forms of communication can be useful... and fun! However, it has to start somewhere.
If you just scored someone's digits—whether it's platonic or romantic—our experts offers some tips to keep in mind when beginning a conversation through text. We also touch on what not to do when texting someone new, because we all know the unique frustration of an unanswered text, too.
Don't Start a Text Conversation This Way
Most experts we talked to agree to avoid potentially heavy topics, and to save them for the phone or an in-person conversation. According to Concepcion, stay away from "heavier topics about your relationship status, your past hurts, personal victories and disagreements or misunderstandings which can easily be taken out of context." Similarly, "When you are texting back and forth and think to yourself, 'Why are we not talking on the phone?' then this may be the time to ask if you can call," Ray says.
Ray adds, "You also want to absolutely avoid statements that are sexually explicit in nature, unless that is your only goal. Initial texting conversations should always be light-hearted, inspirational, inquisitive, and fun to create a friendly and engaging open dialogue." Other things to be mindful of when texting someone new? Your tone, use of emojis, and when the text conversation is over. Says Ray, "Some people like to text forever and you may not be in a space or time to do that. Always have a plan to politely end your communication."
Text Conversation Starters
As a rule of thumb, texting someone new means keeping things light and involves back-and-forth dialogue about shared interests, finding common ground, and learning about who they are, says Ray. "It takes some time getting to know someone's communication style and may be best to ask in the beginning, 'So are you a texter, or do you prefer to talk on the phone?' or 'Can you text at work, or when is the best time to text you?'" Relationship expert Robyn Koenig of Rare Find adds, "The key to conversation starters is to be interested in the other person without coming across as anxious or desperate for attention. Keep it light and show you have a genuine interest by reaching out with questions that allow for responses beyond one word."
Below, use this list of 30 conversation starters to jump-start your next text thread with someone new:
What do you have planned this weekend?
This conversation starter serves two purposes: It allows you to get an idea of their interests while enabling you to suggest a rendez-vous if their schedule is open.
What's your sign?
True, this question can come across as a corny pick-up line, but knowing their zodiac sign can give you a glimpse into their personality. Plus, you can do some research into their sign's compatibility with your own.
Did you see that viral YouTube video about [insert topic]? What did you think?
If you share a meme or video that made you crack up and they don't have a similar reaction, it could be a clue that you don't share the same sense of humor.
Working on anything exciting at the moment?
Don't limit this question to professional initiatives. It's possible that they're working on a creative project outside of work, like redecorating their bedroom or training their new dog.
What do you bring with you everywhere and anywhere you go?
Are they the sentimental type who always keeps a childhood memento in their pocket? Or are they more pragmatic, preferring to limit essentials to their phone and wallet? This conversation starter for texting might give you a peek into what they think is really important.
What's the most interesting thing you've read recently?
If they haven't read any good books lately, suggest some of your favorite authors.
What makes you nervous?
Spiders, public speaking, Zoom calls... Whatever their response, ask them to talk about their coping mechanisms for anxiety (or lack thereof).
Keep the conversation going by asking open-ended questions instead of questions that can be answered with a quick yes or no.
Do you have any hidden talents?
You may not find out about their photography, singing, or poker skills unless you ask.
What else can you tell me about your post on [Instagram/Snapchat/Facebook/etc.]?
If you're connected with them on social media, as them to share more details about one of their more recent posts. For example, you could ask about a delicious-looking meal they posted, or ask where they were when they uploaded that sunset photo.
What's one thing you always do before bed?
Maybe they meditate, listen to a podcast, or pamper their skin. Follow up with more questions about their favorite daily rituals.
How did your [interview/meeting/workout class] go?
This text conversation starter shows that you were paying attention during a previous conversation, and allows you to share in their achievements or failures.
If you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would you go?
Is it a place they've visited before, or is the destination on their travel bucket list?