Love and Other (Near) Disasters

Need that cryptic post-first date text decoded? We're here to help

There was a time when we simply agonized about getting dressed and going on a first date. But thanks to the advent of text messages, the real conundrum now is how to obsessively read into the follow-up text: what it means and how the ef to respond. It’s kind of the worst.

True, it doesn’t have to be like this. We could “rise above” and “relax” and stop sending screenshots of the text to all of our friends asking them to play UN translators for romantic innuendo. But alas, we don’t live in a perfect world. And try as we may—and thank GAWD for emojis—there are still limitations to text message communication: we miss inflection, emotion, and no one will give us italics or bold text options dammit.

So I figured that we might as well put our heads together and see if we can’t find some universal truths from the types of texts we get — or send — after first dates. Here are the usual text suspects that come buzzing through the airwaves after a first date, what they might possibly mean and how to respond if you’re itchin’ for a second date:

“Thanks for a great time (smiley face emoji)”

First off, be grateful they didn’t jump the gun and use the heart eye emoji. Many a great relationship has been ruined by too much emoji intimacy too soon. Secondly, if you like this person, respond with enthusiasm. You could try: “It was so fun, thanks!” or “Thanks again, I had a blast.” Or if you want to be a little bold, write, “Thanks back atcha! We should do that again sometime soon.” Oooooooh vulnerability! This is a great first date text to get, no question. And it’s OK to put yourself out there if you really like the person. Hey, if they made the first text move, the ball’s technically in your court.

“I had a lot of fun last night. Things are going to be crazy at work for the next few weeks. . .”

This, to me, is less “they’re just not that into you” and more “they’re just not that into prioritizing a relationship right now”—which some people see as one in the same. Basically this is someone letting you know that at this point, they’re prioritizing work/other relationships (ugh) and want you to know they might not be around a lot right now. It doesn’t mean there won’t be a second date, but it likely means it won’t be moving along at warp speed. If I got a text like this after a great first date, I’d try my best to be lighthearted and understanding and say something like, “I had a great time too! I hope everything goes well with work.” Because it’s only been one date, there’s no need to freak out. Remember, you have a life too. Also, you can still be open about having a great time so that when their calendar does clear up and if you’re still single/free, they feel confident asking you out again.

“Hey, how’s it goin’?” (Sent five days after the pretty stellar first date)

This happens a lot. And this is one of the hard ones to decode. My optimistic side said they were busy and are just slow-movers, but my pessimistic side says they were busy taking other people out and/or they’re bored and you’re still in their phone so they’re like, “Oh, hey, I remember her.” I don’t think it has to be a deal-breaker and I definitely think that a second date can be really revealing, so if you had fun on the first date — and even if you’re a little annoyed at their lack of first-date-text-etiquette (if there even is such a thing)—I’d suggest going with it and not acting like you care too much. Shoot them back a quick answer “(Crazy week of work, but looking forward to the weekend. How are you?”) Then, just see how it goes from there. Yes, romantic texting is a game of freaking chess.

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