There was a time not so long ago when women judged men based on civilized criteria like the height of their Flock of Seagulls haircuts, or whether they paid for popcorn at the drive-in. Now we have texting. With texting came a set of rules which, though subtle, still set the tone for your budding relationship: “Hahaha” is encouraging, but “haha” is dismissive, and ending a text with an ellipsis means you’re confused (“I don’t know what I want…”) but ending a text with twoellipses means you’re horny (“I don’t know what I want……”). It’s exhausting.
The rules surrounding the practice of sending three texts in a row are particularly convoluted. Some people see triple-texting as the third rail of flirting: Once you send three unanswered texts in a row, these naysayers naysay, it’s over. I think triple-texting can be cute. But especially in the early stages of dating someone, you should understand the triple-texting spectrum, presented below, before you deploy one.
Never Okay: The Please Respond Triple Text
There comes a time in every dalliance with a psycho when you haven’t been in touch for a while, and they decide to burn it all down with a multi-text diatribe about PEOPLE who don’t RESPOND to TEXTS in a timely MANNER. Often these text meltdowns are followed by some variation of “please respond.” We’ve all been tempted to send texts like this: Once you suspect you’re being ghosted—or even if you’re just pining after a poor correspondent—it gets harder and harder to be chill and take no action. But be chill you must. Nobody has ever received three novel-length texts about how they should be ASHAMED of themselves for being such a TEASE and thought, “Huh, that guy really showed me myself. Better respond.” But they havescreenshotted those texts and sent them to all their friends with the caption, “If I get murdered soon, it was this guy.”
Rarely Okay: The “Where Have You Gone?” Triple Text
If you sent her a text a few days ago and didn’t hear back, and then you sent her another text yesterday and didn’t hear back, don’t send a third text today. Every text you send from this point on will just make her feel harassed. The best dating advice anyone has ever given comes from Justin Long in He’s Just Not That into You: “The rule is this: If a guy doesn’t call you, he doesn’t want to call you.” It’s true of women too. She didn’t fall ill, her grandmother didn’t die, she didn’t lose her phone, and she didn’t forget about you. (If she did forget about you, better to abort anyway.) You can still come back from two unrequited texts. Maybe down the road the textee will pause and think, “Huh, that guy seemed nice and interested, but not in a creepy desperate way. Maybe I’ll text him and see what happens.” But you can’t come back from three unrequited texts.
Sometimes Okay, Always Annoying: The Player Triple Text
The linguistic conventions of the player prohibit texting more than three words at a time, which is why I occasionally receive a string of texts that looks like this: “hi”/ “what’s up”/ “in your neighborhood.” While not offensive, per se, these texts do not make you look casual and aloof. They make you look like you couldn’t even take the time to compose a proper text with proper punctuation.
Usually Okay: The Banter Triple Text
If you really have a robust rapport with someone you’re dating, then by all means, send three texts in a row. Send five texts in a row, if they’re making the textee laugh. Just be cautious of banter burnout: It’s all fun and games until you’re lost in your “bit,” firing off multi-text jokes, and I’m bored of being your audience. (Again: “hahaha” means go, “haha” means stop.)
Always Okay: The Correction Triple Text
Sending a third text to correct a typo in a previous text is acceptable. The disgrace of an uncorrected typo always outweighs the disgrace of a triple text.
Always Adorable: The Flirty Sexy Haiku Triple Text
When you’re text-flirting,
If you’re not sure what to send,
Send a cute haiku.