Texting a guy you like can be scary. How forward should you be? Are you expected to “play it cool”? How can you show someone you like them without coming across as intimidating or desperate?
Today, so much of our communication happens online and in front of screens. Texting and commenting on each other’s social media posts take up significant chunks of our day. Online dating seems like the easiest (yet also the hardest) way to find someone to date. How can you best use these platforms to make him like you?
How to start texting a guy you like
The way you start your text conversation has a significant influence on how it will continue. If your first text is something short and bland, your guy will have little to go on. He may not know how to respond, leaving the conversation feeling forced and uninteresting.
You want your first text to include something that the guy you’re texting can use to start a conversation that begins to flow naturally. Here are 6 tips on how to start texting a guy you like:
1. Text him first to show your confidence
Texting a guy first can be a huge relief for him, as guys often feel stressed about making the first move and coming on too strong. Sending the first message can help him know you’re interested. As a result, he may feel more relaxed, leading to a more open conversation.
2. Write something more than just “hi”
Making the first move can be nerve-inducing that some people send a simple “Hey” or “What’s up” as a conversation starter.
However, sending such a message doesn’t give the other people much to go on, so they may not respond (or respond with a similar text back). Then you may end up feeling even more nervous.
Instead, give yourself some time to think about something else to add to your first text. You want to find something that’s a good conversation starter so that he can reply to you with something more than “hi.”
It can be hard to know what to say if you’re messaging someone you met on Tinder or some other dating profile. Try to reference something he’s written in his profile or ask about the photos he chose to include in his profile.
For example, “Hi, your profile looks cool, and I’d love to chat. Is your third photo from Spain? I think I recognize that delicious-looking paella.”
3. Mention something you’ve done together
If you have already met each other in person, referencing something you’ve done or discussed can be a great way to start a text conversation.
Here are some examples of things you could mention when texting a guy you like:
- “I was thinking of what you said, and I was wondering…”
- “Thanks again for letting me see your notes. You saved my grade!”
- “How great was that performance? I didn’t expect to like that cover version so much.”
4. Ask questions
Getting-to-know-you conversations can get quite dull initially, particularly if you’re stuck in a dating rut: “What do you do for work?” “What are your hobbies,” “Are you close to your family?” etc. can get stale. Mix it up by asking him a random question to show your fun side.
Try to ask open-ended questions rather than yes/no questions to keep the conversation going, and riff on his answers rather than asking one question after the other.
Don’t have any ideas? Get inspired with our list of 252 questions to ask a guy you like.
5. Compliment him
Guys can be insecure in dating. A compliment can help him know you’re interested. Also, the more secure he feels, the more likely he is to be direct with you, creating a win-win situation.
You don’t have to lay it on too thick, but let him know you appreciate how he handled a situation or that you noticed how he put in an effort.
For example, if you got a taste of his cooking, you may write, “I’m still thinking of your bulgur salad. I never dreamed I’d say those words!”
6. Consider a playful challenge
You can use a “hook” like a challenge to grab his attention.
For example, you can ask him about the best and worst pick-up lines he’s used, offering in return lines that you used yourself or that others have used on you. You can set up a “prize” for the winner of the corniest line by suggesting the “loser” has to buy the “winner” a drink.
Another challenge may be to test out his skills in real life. If he says he’s good at building things, ask to see a picture of something he’s made, and consider asking if he knows enough to be able to teach you something. Or you can suggest meeting up in person for a competition of some sort, like a board game tournament.
Keeping his interest
You should try to follow some general rules when texting a guy you like but don’t know all that well yet. Following texting etiquette and social norms can help you stand out. Also, making sure you’re emotionally regulated when you text (that means that you’re in control of your emotions rather than the other way around) will help ensure that the conversation will go well.
1. Show interest in him
Ask genuine questions about his interests, how his day was, and topics he brings up. Ideally, if you’re interested in him, you’re interested in getting to know him.
Now, that doesn’t mean you have to pretend to be interested in everything he’s interested in. If he starts telling you of something you’re not interested in yourself, you can ask him what he finds interesting about it rather than asking specific detailed questions. If you’re unsure if he likes you, here are some signs to help tell if he’s interested.
2. Tease him to keep him on his toes
Texts men love to receive include those that are light and fun. Teasing him can be a great way to keep things funny and flirty. One easy way to do this is by casting doubt on what he says with a smile.
Let’s say he says something and follows up with, “That was a great joke, I’m proud of that one!” Coming back with “Was it, though?” is a lighthearted way to poke at him a bit.
For more on keeping a light and flirty tone, read our guide on how to banter.
3. Show him you have a life
If he texts you asking what you’re up to and you keep saying “nothing,” there’s a lot of pressure on him to keep the conversation interesting. Showing him that you have an exciting life already lets him know that having you in his life will add value to it.
Even if you’re sitting at home by yourself, you don’t have to say you’re doing “nothing” (it’s probably not true). Instead, let him know you’re resting by reading a book and what you think about it or that you’re organizing your kitchen cupboards after putting it off for the last month. Details make things more exciting.
What if you don’t feel like you have an interesting life? Work on building one. When you meet someone you like, spending all your time with him can be tempting. You want to make sure that you have enough hobbies, interests, and friends that you’ll be OK if a relationship doesn’t work out.
Make it a priority to improve your social life. You don’t have to altogether ditch dating even if your life isn’t quite there yet. If you meet someone you like, pursue it by all means. But remember that a romantic relationship should be an addition to a good life rather than the center of it.
4. Use emojis and exclamation points sparingly
Emojis can help you get your message across, but they shouldn’t take the place of words. A message with too many emojis or exclamation points can be overwhelming, so keep them to one per sentence, and don’t use them in every sentence.
Using ALL CAPS can also be overwhelming, as it can give the impression that you’re shouting or raising your voice.
5. Use proper grammar
Memes, slang, and emojis can all be fun ways to mix things up, but you want him to be able to understand your messages easily. “Txtng like dis” can be exhausting, which means the conversation is less likely to go deep or last long.
Sending memes and gifs can be great, but notice if he’s reciprocating or if it’s one-way.
6. Recognize moments where you shouldn’t text
Texting when you’re drunk, upset, or otherwise overly emotional is a recipe for disaster. You’re more likely to say something hurtful, extreme, or that you don’t mean.
Instead, force yourself to put your phone aside if you know you’re going to be drinking. If you’re upset about a message he sent or something that happened during your day, take the time to do something to calm yourself down and revisit the conversation later. Journal, go for a walk, listen to music, try some breathing exercises, or all of the above.
Avoid texting late at night because it can send a message that you’re looking for a hook-up rather than something more serious.
Also, if you’re in the middle of a meeting or something else that has your attention, put your phone aside until you can give the conversation the attention it deserves.
7. Don’t be negative
When we’re just getting to know someone, the best thing to do is put our best foot forward. Sure, your boss will upset you, and your neighbors will be loud as you’re meeting someone new, just like annoying things will always happen.
Try to vent to a friend or therapist rather than a potential romantic partner.
If you find yourself struggling to keep negativity out of your conversations, do some work on becoming more positive. Doing so will not only help your social life but will improve your overall wellbeing.
8. Don’t over-text
Resist the temptation to send another text, and another, as you’re waiting for his reply (known as “machine gun texting”). This type of texting can come across as clingy and annoying.
Remind yourself that he may have needed to step away from his phone, and wait until he answers to send another text. It’s OK if it takes him some time to respond: he may be busy. Some people are more glued to their phones than others.
The best way to refrain from machine gun texting is to step away from your phone yourself. Go for a walk or distract yourself in some other way.
9. Know when to take it off text
Some conversations are better suited for a call or in-person meet-up. When the conversation is getting deep, or if you’ve been texting every day, you can casually suggest meeting up in person or having a phone call.
Keep in mind that over text, we can’t hear someone’s tone or see their body language, so some mix-ups are bound to happen. If you feel that’s happened or you need a quick answer (if you’re meeting up soon and some details are unclear, for example), don’t hesitate to pick up the phone.
Leaving him wanting more
How to end a text conversation with a guy you like can feel even more difficult than starting. When you want someone, and the conversation is going well, it can be tempting to try to keep it going.
But missing each other and fantasizing can be some of the best parts of a budding relationship. You need to leave space for that to happen, though. If you’re texting back and forth all day, every day right from the start, there isn’t much room for him to start craving you.
1. Wrap up the conversation when it’s at a high point
It can be challenging to end a text conversation when it’s going well, but you want to aim to do that so you won’t find yourself in a position where one or both of you is feeling like you’re struggling to keep the text conversation going.
Use an excuse for a relaxed goodbye rather than keeping the conversation going at all costs. For example:
- “Right, dinner time! I need to go and make sure my food doesn’t burn.”
- “I’m going to tidy up before my friends come over, so I’ll talk to you soon.”
- “I’m stepping away from my phone now, but it was really nice talking to you.”
2. End on a question
Keep him thinking about you by asking a question when you end the conversation. It can be a deep question or something light, but the intention is to keep you on his mind and open the door for future questions.
For example, you may write something like, “I need to go do the dishes now, but next time we talk, I need to know: would you rather never eat Thai or Mexican food ever again?”
3. Hint at the possibility of future plans
Texting can be a great way to build attraction, but if your goal is to create a romantic relationship, you’re going to want to meet up in person before the momentum dies down.
If you’re too shy to ask him out directly, you can indirectly let him know you’re open to meeting up.
For example, you can ask him if he’s been to a particular restaurant that you heard is good and would love to check out. Using a general opening like this gives him an opportunity to suggest the two of you go together.
Or you may plan a group outing and let him know he’s welcome to join in. A group hike or game night can be a great way to get to know each other without the pressure of a fancy date.
4. Let him initiate
Once you’ve had your first few conversations, notice if you’re always the one texting first. Text first sparingly: you don’t want to set up a dynamic where you chase him or feel like you’re doing all the work.
You want to create a balanced dynamic where both of you feel secure. That can only occur when both of you show equal interest.
Look at it as an experiment, and see what happens if you’re not the one to text first or ask all the questions. If he’s not showing equal engagement, it may be a sign that you want different things or that he cannot be as emotionally engaged as you are.
It can hurt to see that someone isn’t willing or able to put in the same effort as you are, but at least you’ll know where you stand early on.
5. Don’t overanalyze texts
One mistake many people make is over-analyzing the texts they send or receive. The result is that all the joy of getting to know someone turns into an anxiety-ridden mess.
Notice how and why you’re overanalyzing. Are you reading into his messages because they’re unclear? Are you worried he won’t like you? Do you assume that you’re not good enough?
Try to reframe this period in your mind. Remind yourself that you’re not trying to be liked but rather engaging in a mutual process of discovering whether or not you like each other and whether you’re compatible.
It can take time to find someone we truly mesh with, and the road will be littered with some rejections. That’s inevitable, but it’s possible to learn from it rather than letting it get us down.
6. Be yourself
Don’t play games or get so caught up in these rules that you find yourself trying to be someone else. Keep to clear, honest communication and don’t try to guess at who and what he likes.
If your goal is to find a boyfriend who loves and accepts you for who you are, you need to allow him to get to know the real you.
7. Let him be himself
We can sometimes get so caught up in our ideas of how relationships should look like, that we don’t let them evolve naturally.
For example, you may make a joke expecting someone to reply a certain way and be disappointed when they react differently. It’s natural to be disappointed sometimes, but it’s worth asking yourself if your expectations are reasonable or if they’re too rigid.
Keep in mind that if you’re dating an older guy (or someone younger than you) you may have some different expectations of the dating scene. People from different phases in life may hang out at different places, use other websites, and have different dating experiences. Don’t put people in boxes, and keep in mind that different backgrounds can lead to different expectations.
What do I text a guy to start a conversation?
Texting a message that includes a question can be a great way to start a conversation. Don’t be afraid to be forward: let him know you’re interested in getting to know him. Referencing something that he’s mentioned before can be a great opening.
Go here for more tips on how to start a conversation with a guy you like.
What texts do guys like to receive?
Guys generally tend to like to receive light, short, and clear messages. Long, rambling paragraphs can be confusing. Instead, keep things to a few sentences, and avoid serious topics at the beginning.