FWD: Halp! How To Text A Person You Would Like To Make Out With

How long do you wait before responding to a text message from somebody you like? Eight minutes. posted on

How long do I have to wait before I respond to a text message from a person I’m trying to date/kiss/etc. ?

OH GOD. This question – which we’ve been asking ourselves, maniacally, since time immemorial – is, I’m serious, the bane of my existence. It’s the Aaron Burr to my Alexander Hamilton, the Kryptonite to my Superman, The Mule to my Foundation. (Too much?) I just hate it, and it hates me back.

My heart’s answer, the one that I want to be true, is that there is no such thing as “waiting to respond.” As soon as you see that you have a text message, you respond to it, because you are a human being and why would you make someone you LIKE suffer like that? Aren’t we all going through enough as it is? Why put off something you know you’ll do eventually? Carpe diem! Seize the phone, and use it to text people back immediately, goddammit!

My world-weary, cynical, reluctant answer is: eight minutes. Wait eight minutes exactly. Why not? It sounds like a good number. It’s just long enough to make the person you’re texting wish s/he were never born (and apparently that’s how we want our crushes to feel, just a little), but not so long that s/he’ll think you’ve lost interest entirely. The two of you can start texting each other back and forth at eight-minute intervals and then obviously (because you followed the secret hard-to-get formula!) you’ll fall in love and get married. But don’t invite me to your wedding because I’M NOT COMING.

I’m in the middle of applying for a lot of jobs (fun!) and have noticed that a surprisingly high number of the older professionals with whom I’m in contact are extremely casual in their emails. Like not signing their names, or starting emails with mine…nothing! Is it okay to kind of match the tone set by different professionals? I don’t want to be too casual, but I don’t want to be too formal if that’s not what they’re into, either. Basically I just want a job.

This is something I’m very familiar with as well! It seems that, especially for certain people predisposed to uncourteous brevity, the arrival of email was an unwelcome development that has been a thorn in their sides ever since. I don’t think this is an age thing, I think it’s a manners thing. (Except, maybe, for REALLY old people, like ones who were 65 when the Internet showed up. They’ve earned the right to email however they want. I barely understand the Internet and I’m 25 – I can only imagine what it would have been like to have this mess inserted into my life after 65 years of living in the real world.) I have maintained email correspondences with middle age and older folks with impeccable Internet manners, and emails with young adults who should really know better but somehow don’t. Bad manners transcend age!

All that to say – always err on the side of formality. Always start your professional emails with the recipient’s name, and always end them with yours. Maybe your courtesy will rub off on these folks by osmosis or something. I really don’t think anyone’s ever received a polite, well-mannered email and been like, “Gross, this person keeps writing his name at the end of his emails – I’d sooner hire a dead rabbit for this job than HIM!” ??? Sorry, I think with that Herman Cain ad I just have dead bunnies on the brain. The point is, until you have that job, be extra-polite. Email tone matching comes after they’re already paying you.

How do you gracefully untie your Netflix account from somebody after you’ve been sharing for a while? I feel bad yanking it back from this person I’d been dating, so I haven’t, but when they watch stuff on their iPad, their history is all up in mine.

There sure is a lot of Netflix bartering going on around here. Are Netflix negotiations what you resort to when you don’t have kids/pets with someone but want to feel as though there’s some emotional custody battle left to fight? Is one’s possession of a Netflix password (or lack thereof) the compass by which one’s life is led? “The Netflix giveth and the Netflix taketh away.” Haha. I’m just kidding, I know you just want your queue back. It IS annoying to have to look at all the crap your ex is watching – her movies and TV show selections interrupting your easy access to the classic ABC Family dramedy “Greek” in Recently Watched. (So good! SO GOOD.)

Her virtual presence on your Netflix page is just one more reminder of her that you probably don’t need, so here’s what I think you should do. First, give yourself a two-minute pep talk, because you seem to feel bad about this and I don’t think you should. If she isn’t terrible, she’s not going to be surprised that you no longer wish to provide her with free entertainment now that you’re no longer together. Second, send her a brief email (you can go with a text if you want, but ex texting is dangerous and I do not recommend it) letting her know that you’re going to change your Netflix password. No hard feelings, you just think it’s better if you keep your things/spaces/Internet footprints separate from now on. Third, change your password. Fourth, get back to Greek! The series finale, UGH, don’t even get me started.

Katie Heaney is a writer and text message analyst living in Minneapolis. She thinks you should have good manners, even on the internet.

Would you like to know how to be a human being when using technology? Email your questions to Katie.

Top Image: AVAVA / Shutterstock.com

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