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."
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.
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 a 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?
- How would you describe yourself in three words?
- How do you relieve stress?
- What does your ideal weekend look like?
- Who have you been friends with the longest, and how did you meet?
- What's your favorite season, and why?
- Did you see that viral YouTube video about [insert topic]? What did you think?
- What did you want to be when you were younger? Is any of that still hold true today?
- Who is your role model?
- What's the high-point and low-point of your day so far?
- Working on anything exciting at the moment?
- What do you bring with you everywhere and anywhere you go?
- What's the most interesting thing you've read recently?
- What makes you nervous?
- What are you best at?
- Do you have any hidden talents?
- Where would you shop if you could only shop at one store for the rest of your life?
- What are you currently binge-watching?
- What's your favorite podcast?
- Where would you like to vacation?
- What are you up to today?
- How did your [interview/meeting/workout class] go?
- Do you prefer coffee or tea, and why?
- When's the last time you laughed so hard you couldn't breathe?
- What do you think about [insert latest trend]?
- Do you prefer the mountains, the sea, or the desert?
- What's an emoji that sums up your day so far?
- What's the one restaurant you'd recommend everyone visit in your hometown?
- Do you have time to chat over the phone about [insert topic]?
- Hey! Let's get together, when are you free so we can meet up?
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."