Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Do You Have Strictly Text Relationships?

Woman texting

This was an interesting essay over on HuffPo about breaking up with the people you text with once you get in a serious relationship. I haven’t been on the dating scene in about eight years, so this idea that people might have a number of random “texters” in their lives — people they strictly flirt with over texts but don’t actually date or even see in person — is sort of new to me. But you can’t even say this is just what the kids are doing these days because the author of this particular essay is in her 30s and wrote: “From teenagers, 20-somethings, 30-somethings and probably beyond… it’s become a normal dating shenanigan practice to text with 5-10+ people on a rotating, flirting, basis.”

So, I ask you: is that right? Do you have 5-10 people on a rotating, flirting basis you text with? And what happens when you find someone you actually want to have a relationship with? Do you do like the woman who wrote the essay and send a text out to all of your texters and tell them you’re off the market (that seems weird to me…), or do you continue texting with them, or do you wait until they text you and then tell them you’ve started dating someone and can no longer flirt-text with them? And if you are suddenly back on the market, do you send out a text to your former texters and let them know it’s back on? Do you ever just want to be like, “Dude, let’s just like go get a coffee or something”?

In related news: I’m glad I’m an old married.

57 comments… add one
  • avatar

    Banana April 24, 2014, 2:05 pm

    So I just skimmed the essay to see if there was any survey data (which itself isn’t exactly ironclad proof) demonstrating that this is actually a “normal dating shenanigan practice,” and there was none. I kind of have a feeling this is one of those cases where someone claims a particular activity is “like, so totally common and normal and everybody’s doing it” because she, the author happens to do it, and she either assumes that means everybody does, or she just wants to make the claim so she doesn’t seem weird.

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    • avatar

      Banana April 24, 2014, 2:06 pm

      OMG my first first comment! I think. I’m going to take this as a sign that my lunch break should probably be over by now.

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    • muchachaenlaventana

      muchachaenlaventana April 24, 2014, 2:14 pm

      So I have about 10 friends who are single and who ALL partake in this activity. Seriously it is SO freaking bizarre to me but yeah, I think this is an actual phenomenon.

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  • Fabelle

    Fabelle April 24, 2014, 2:12 pm

    Yeahhhh this was kind of an actual problem when I first dating Fabello. My solution was to keep flirting, but just do it less…? & less enthusiastically? He & I are okay with flirting, but some of the people I used to text were more like sext buddies, so when I toned it down to flirting from that, the communication dropped off anyway (so problem: taken care of by itself)

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    • rainbow

      rainbow April 24, 2014, 2:53 pm

      Question: Do you know lots of people, like a big percentage of them, or flirt with people you don’t like much?

      Because there is NO WAY I could do this with my current life. I know maybe three guys I would flirt with in the whole world and one stopped talking to me when he got a GF, the 2nd got on my nerves and I stopped talking to him and the 3rd I don’t talk to unless I’m drunk because he’s boring, and now I’m sober so no way.

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      • rainbow

        rainbow April 24, 2014, 2:54 pm

        God, that sound so sad. I’m slowly becoming a nun and/or crazy cat lady.

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      • rainbow

        rainbow April 24, 2014, 3:23 pm

        And of those 3 I would only have sex with the first one, but he was pretty shitty to me when he got the new GF (he pretended he didn’t see my “I’ll be in your city, want to meet?” message instead of saying no thanks like a polite adult) so now I don’t feel like it so there is NO ONE IN THE WORLD I WOULD HAVE SEX WITH. How sad is that? I need to meet more people.

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      • Fabelle

        Fabelle April 24, 2014, 3:03 pm

        I actually feel like I DON’T know a lot of people, at least compared to my peers? I feel like I only keep a few in my life. Like, the ones I text-flirted with were a few old/current-at-the-time FWBs, an ex, & one dude I knew from first from a gifted program I’d leave high school for once a week & then from college. I helped him out with college stuff (acting in his films, for example) but we never hung out. OH & one was my friend’s bf who she was in an open relationship with (I’ve written about him on here before; we stopped talking for other reasons)
        .
        So if I was text flirting, I had to find SOMETHING attractive/ intriguing about the person, but to answer your other question–yes, I think in ~person~ I tend to flirt with people I don’t like? Just as a default mannerism thing, if that makes sense?

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      • rainbow

        rainbow April 24, 2014, 3:21 pm

        Makes sense. I usually don’t, because I find that they tend to want to repeat it (like, if you do it once then they’ll flirt with you whenever they see you) and I find it annoying when I’m busy / having a bad day / thinking of something else.

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      • Lyra

        Lyra April 24, 2014, 8:55 pm

        I need a score card to keep up with your dudes.

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      • muchachaenlaventana

        muchachaenlaventana April 24, 2014, 3:03 pm

        My roommate kept around guys she called her spare tires and she was not even interested in them but would just text them nonstop (about 4-5 at a time if not more). It was totally an attention/validation/boredom thing. I finally one day was like wtf are you doing, you are wasting your time you don’t need that just be single, and she stopped doing it and it was like a lightbulb for her.

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  • avatar

    lets_be_honest April 24, 2014, 2:15 pm

    I’ve never heard of this. 🙁

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  • avatar

    kerrycontrary April 24, 2014, 2:19 pm

    This concept is so foreign to me, but I have one single friend who definitely texts/snapchats guys. But they’re all guys she’s seeing in person as well. But I’ve definitely heard people talking about texting someone fairly frequently that they’ve only met 1-2x in person. Whatever floats your boat!

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  • Fabelle

    Fabelle April 24, 2014, 2:22 pm

    Oh, & for a non-sexual example: I do have a gchat buddy who I’ve only met once. He was a rep at an employment agency who tried to help me find a job, then he asked me out, & I had to do the “I have a boyfrand” thing, but he took it well & now we’re friends. He tells me about his online dating escapades, & I give him advice (which I can because of this site… haha)

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  • avatar

    ktfran April 24, 2014, 2:27 pm

    THIS. LOVED IT: Do you ever just want to be like, “Dude, let’s just like go get a coffee or something”?

    I don’t get it. At all. What’s the point to sending flirty texts, or IMs or e-mails if there’s not potential for there to be more. Sure, I’ve flirted with people using these methods, but it has ALWAYS turned into a few dates or some kind of relationship.

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    • avatar

      Banana April 24, 2014, 2:38 pm

      Now that I think about it, this actually explains a lot. I never really saw the point of endlessly texting/chatting someone you weren’t going to hang out with (in a romantic sense — I mean, obviously I love chatting with people I never see here, but I’m not trying to date any of you!). But every once in a while I’d encounter a guy who never seemed to have time to hang out, but wanted to text/chat in a very flirty way CONSTANTLY. Maybe they were text-zoning me. I usually just moved on to someone who actually wanted to hang.

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    • avatar

      RedroverRedrover April 25, 2014, 12:18 pm

      Maybe it just makes them feel good? I don’t know, I’ve never done it either, but I’m also not a flirty kind of person. I’m a “serious relationship” kind of person. If I was interested in someone, I wanted to pursue it, not just flirt around and never have it go anywhere. So yeah, it makes no sense to me, with my sort of personality.

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  • LlamaPajamas

    LlamaPajamas April 24, 2014, 2:28 pm

    I did this with one guy before I met Llama Guy. We “met” online dating and messaged for a while then swapped phone numbers and started texting several times a day. It wasn’t anything sexy though, just nice little getting-to-know-you, how’s-your-day-going texts. I put a stop to it though once I realized he was too busy to ever actually meet in person. But it was nice because I was seeing another online guy at the time and it wasn’t so sucky when that didn’t work out. I guess it was a bit of a confidence booster? But there’s no way I could manage texting 5-10 guys at once. I get texts to my sister and Llama Guy mixed up!

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  • avatar

    XanderT April 24, 2014, 2:29 pm

    My 27 year old single daughter was doing this and thought it was normal. All the while wondering why the guys didn’t ask to, you know, actually meet her. I told her if she wants a relationship to knock it off & meet people, not just text them. She is going out on her 3rd 1st date in the last 10 days. This is a good thing! She is meeting lots of guys face to face to see if there is anything there & not wasting hours texting flirty messages hoping to be asked out.

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  • avatar

    Tax Geek April 24, 2014, 2:38 pm

    BusyMom and I are like this. 🙁

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  • Lianne

    Lianne April 24, 2014, 2:39 pm

    I definitely did this like 8 years ago with a guy I had gone on one date with, but never went out on another date. I saw him semi-regularly through softball, and flirted somewhat, but not as outwardly as we did through text. It was as if the non-face to face flirting was safer? Then he started dating someone who he got serious with and it stopped. Now I am really good friends with her, too.

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  • GatorGirl

    GatorGirl April 24, 2014, 2:44 pm

    I don’t get the point of this…text flirting with people you have no intention of ever meeting? Huh? I really don’t think I would survive trying to date now.

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    • GatorGirl

      GatorGirl April 24, 2014, 2:46 pm

      Also, how does one text flirt. I can’t even flirt IRL, let alone like with emoji’s. What would one say? Are their pictures? Is it actually sexting?

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest April 24, 2014, 2:49 pm

        Uh oh, GG’s jealous. Its ok Geeg. I will sext you.

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      • GatorGirl

        GatorGirl April 24, 2014, 2:59 pm

        I’m genuinely confused! Maybe it’s just because I’m not flirty?

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      • avatar

        bethany April 24, 2014, 3:04 pm

        I have a friend who I used to to FWB with (like 9 years ago), and every now and then he’ll text me something flirty. It’s kinda weird. I’ll go along with it for 1 or 2 texts, but then I stop replying, or change the subject.

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest April 24, 2014, 4:18 pm

        I wouldn’t even know how to flirt. I sound like an idiot when not flirting, so I can only imagine what a lousy flirt I’d be. Same with texting. Sometimes I get a “hey” text from Peter and just respond with hey. I’ll add an extra “y” or 2 if I’m feeling frisky. Heyyy.

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      • muchachaenlaventana

        muchachaenlaventana April 24, 2014, 3:04 pm

        My boyfriend asked if I was in the mood yesterday and sent a suggestive text to follow 🙂 it was pretty flirty.

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  • avatar

    bethany April 24, 2014, 2:46 pm

    Do DW people count? I text dog pictures with AP. And booze pictures with GG.

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    • GatorGirl

      GatorGirl April 24, 2014, 2:47 pm

      We sometimes regular text (like sentences)! And we’re going to meet up in May!

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    • Fabelle

      Fabelle April 24, 2014, 3:20 pm

      Cats & I sexted!! (am I joking? am I not? Who knows 😉 )

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  • lemongrass

    lemongrass April 24, 2014, 3:01 pm

    So I guess I did this with one guy before I got together with Mr. Grass. We “met” on plentyoffish but never met in real life. It started out flirty but we realized that it just wasn’t there for us and so we more became friends. We talked for years but it slowly dropped off and we aren’t even FB friends anymore. We passed by in the car a couple times but other than that it was all just over FB.

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  • avatar

    thatgirl April 24, 2014, 3:31 pm

    I admit to doing this now…I don’t have 5-10, but 4, so close?
    .
    I don’t want a relationship right now. I do, however, want to be told I am sexy, interesting, sweet, etc. As I haven’t reached relationship status as of yet, and don’t plan on it, I do not know how one goes about removing these people from your texting rotation. I have already dropped one guy though, who was getting a little too personal and a little to close. I just didn’t reply to every text and he stopped texting as much, and it dwindled away to nothing now.

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  • TaraMonster

    TaraMonster April 24, 2014, 2:39 pm

    This is extremely common among the single people in my social group: late twenties, early 30s NYers. When my boyfriend and I became more serious I waited to get a text from some of the guys in my rotation and then just told them I was seeing someone. No big deal. Though my boyfriend I definitely didn’t like sit down and agree to do this. When it started to feel inappropriate to be texting other people, that’s exactly what I said, “I”m seeing someone so this needs to stop,” or something like that. I don’t remember.

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    • Dear Wendy

      Dear Wendy April 24, 2014, 5:54 pm

      Interesting — thanks for explaining. I’m just a few years past this trend, I guess — 37 and married. When I was 29 and single, there were definitely a rotation of guys I texted/chatted with, but we had face-to-face interaction too, even if the texting was our more common means of interacting.

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    • Addie Pray

      Addie Pray April 24, 2014, 6:02 pm

      where can i get this rotation of men you guys speak of? i have a rotation of chinese take out numbers.

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    • avatar

      MissDre April 24, 2014, 6:43 pm

      I definitely had some flirty text-only relationships as well before I met my boyfriend. I can’t even remember if I told them I had a boyfriend or if I just stopped texting them… But yeah I can certainly relate to the texting thing (I’m 28 now, so I would have been 23/24 at the time).

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  • honeybeenicki

    honeybeenicki April 24, 2014, 3:59 pm

    Umm… nope? I guess I haven’t dated in about 8 years, so maybe it’s newish.

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  • Fabelle

    Fabelle April 24, 2014, 4:17 pm

    OH so I was too busy incriminating myself earlier to also mention Fabello is not innocent of this, either–he (not really texts, but) gchats a girl from Canada who he’s known for like 10 years now. She’s married & I forget how they “met” (they’ve never actually met) but I know flirting makes up like 70% of their interactions. I feel like many have these mostly virtual “relationships” that they bring into their actual relationships? Like I knew about this girl prior to dating him (we were friends, I was close with people he knew, etc.) but if he were to begin dating a new person, he’d probably have to explain that shit. (“So yeah, my friend from Canada…but we never actually met…if you glanced at my chats with her, you’d probably be upset…”)

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    • Fabelle

      Fabelle April 24, 2014, 4:19 pm

      And that rhymed. Oops.

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  • avatar

    SummerChat25 April 24, 2014, 4:24 pm

    I am 28 and single and I do not do this.

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  • avatar

    SummerChat25 April 24, 2014, 4:25 pm

    As hit publish I thought “maybe this is why I’m single.”

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    • Addie Pray

      Addie Pray April 25, 2014, 4:17 am

      Lol

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  • avatar

    Elin April 24, 2014, 4:29 pm

    I do have several (not 10 plus… lol, but a few?) people that I text regularly. It’s people with whom there is like, a mutual attraction but we just can’t (for a bunch of reasons) hang out. It really just feels nice to have the attention; to know that while you’re single, there are still options. The author was right about that part.

    But… When I get into a serious relationship… I definitely will NOT be sending out a preemptive text. Yikes! It’s so presumptuous and braggy! I do think the flirty-on-the-side text relationships need to stop eventually, but by definition they’re not serious so you don’t need a serious explanation as to why it’s “over” lol. I’d probably just back off with my replies and let things fizzle on their own. If someone doesn’t get the hint after a while I’d spell it out. But otherwise I think it’s a little narcissistic to assume that anyone you don’t care too much about cares about you.

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    • Fabelle

      Fabelle April 24, 2014, 4:42 pm

      Haha yeah, I was picturing when I read that some kind of mass text (like, you know the person who would actually do this wouldn’t bother to send them individually): “FYI I’M TAKEN NOW SO NO MORE OF ‘THOSE’ TEXTS 😉 THANKS, ALL XOXO”

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  • avatar

    Lily in NYC April 24, 2014, 4:38 pm

    Ugh, a texting relationship is my nightmare come true. I probably send a grand total of two texts a week. But I don’t see anything wrong with it as long as their are no SO’s that would be hurt by it.

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  • gigi

    gigi April 24, 2014, 4:02 pm

    I do this quite a lot also. NOT constantly, because who has the time & energy for that? Ugh. But its kind of fun when you are bored. I don’t do it as much as as I did when I was strictly single, but since we are into the swinger scene, its a big thing. Flirty texting, sexting (which I am not too good at btw) And if you decide you are no longer interested you can either politely tell them, or ghosting works as well….

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  • veritek33

    veritek33 April 24, 2014, 5:25 pm

    Is it just flirting or sexting? For some reason I could see sexting a person you’ve never met, but just plain old flirting seems weird.

    I never claimed to be normal.

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    • avatar

      thatgirl April 25, 2014, 10:13 am

      Both…and with people, at least for me, that I have and have not met IRL.

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  • avatar

    Penguingina April 24, 2014, 5:33 pm

    This is most definitely a thing. I’m in college, and especially with things like Grinder and Tindr, “taking” to someone means you’re just texting them sexually most of the time.

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  • Portia

    Portia April 24, 2014, 8:41 pm

    According to Bassanio, the younger guys at his office will do this all the time. These are the same guys who snapchat and claim they’re not just sending dick pics.
    .
    During a short period of my life I had one of these, but it was an FWB from my past and therefore someone I had known in real life…

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    • Portia

      Portia April 24, 2014, 8:45 pm

      Oh but, the last time I was really single, IMing was all the rage and I had a few IM/email only flirtations like this. So it might not be new, just a different medium?
      And writing this is making me feel old so I’m gonna go…

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  • Lyra

    Lyra April 24, 2014, 8:53 pm

    When I was dating this fall I had 2 or 3 guys who I never met but we texted a lot…I was up to meeting up with them but things just fizzled before we met in person.
    .
    Remember that divorced dude I dated last August? The one who I liked soooo much but we were a horrible match? Well we started out texting CONSTANTLY before even meeting each other…and we did that for maybe two weeks before we met in person. It was actually really bad because I had kind of built him up in my head to be this awesome guy who I had a crazy good connection with and thus led to me getting attached waaaay too soon because of it. It was unhealthy and not normal and I’m very glad it ended.
    .
    Navy Guy and I primarily text. We very rarely talk on the phone because he kind of hates talking on phones…he does call me on occasion though. We maintain communication throughout the day but obviously with work and him in school we’re not talking constantly and I really like it that way. It feels like a really good balance. We still have our lives but we stay connected pretty well too. He also likes to send me cat pictures he finds online, especially if he knows I’m having a rough day (like today). He knows cat pictures cheer me up every time.

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  • avatar

    McLovin April 24, 2014, 9:30 pm

    I pretty much only text when I need to give, or get info in a hurry. But I’ve never had any kind of *relationship* that was mostly/completely texting. I sent a message to the *wrong* Steph one time. I got a really awkward reply from her that pretty much proved that I’m not capable of flirting with more than one at a time with texts.

    I still way prefer to talk on the phone – and I do have a few female friends that I sexy talk with at times though. I’m amazed at how many people legit don’t like talking on the phone.

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  • CatsMeow

    CatsMeow April 24, 2014, 9:46 pm

    I’m single, and I do the online dating thing kind of sporadically, but no. I don’t text anyone I have no intention of meeting. I had no idea it was a Thing.

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  • barleystonks

    barleystonks April 25, 2014, 9:48 am

    I desperately avoided texting for the most part- never conversations at all- until I met my husband, and really only let that change because he’s partially/mostly deaf and on the phone conversations are beyond frustrating for the both of us. Even now I rarely send texts unless it’s obviously going to be a 3-text-each or less convo if I can at all help it, even to him.

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  • avatar

    s April 27, 2014, 12:48 pm

    I haven’t been single in ages, so I hadn’t heard of this, but when I was in high school I definitely had a number of guy friends who our AIM convos veered into flirty, but that was it, so it doesn’t seem that strange or implausible to me. (The guy friends I had these sorts of convos with were friends made at summer camp, who didn’t live near me, so there was no real way we could have actually dated even if either of us wanted to). A good way, especially when you’re young and just starting to figure out dating to get affirmation that others see you, in some sense, as date-able, but without any real risk.

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