Texting is a lot like the tango: With the right suave moves, you’ll end up with a woman’s legs wrapped around you. A single mistep? You’ll be flat on your face. Though now considered a perfectly acceptable way to woo a woman, men’s text transgressions can end a relationship before they make it to the first date.
Relationship expert Michael Masters, author of Text Appeal: For Guys, knows a wrong move equals a deleted contact. “Recovery is a nightmare,” he says. “Women don’t generally give you a second chance.” Here are the 10 worst mistakes to avoid when you’re texting a woman. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
1. Using abbreviations
Abbreviations show a clear lack of effort, say Debra Goldstein and Olivia Baniuszewicz, digital dating experts and co-authors of Flirtexting. “Texting is a casual platform, but you still have to be somewhat buttoned up.” So spelling at the level of a 7th grader neither charms nor entertains—unless you send, “Sup, u out?” This gem evokes laughter from all women—just at you, not with you. Eli Manning’s SNL sketch sums it up.
2. Mass texting
Ladies can smell a mass text from a mile away—especially when Sarah and Lauren are actually roommates. You might not kiss and tell, but your texts are read aloud to, picked apart by, and compared with her nearest friend. So make sure you get her name right
3. Last-minute invitations
Asking a girl out over text is acceptable, if not preferred. But leave a grace period between when you hit send on your witty-and-clever invitation and the actual night of. Goldstein and Baniuszewicz suggest three days.
4. Lacking confidence
Women like when you take charge, because indecision—like “wherever you want to go” or “I can eat whatever”—comes off more annoying than it does polite. As Baniuszewicz says, “Tell me where we’re going and when you want me to be there—done.” Bottom line: be a man with a plan.
5. Being dry toast
There’s no excuse for not sounding charming and hilarious over text. Limiting your conversations to lots of “haha!” and “cool” will lead her to believe that either you’re too lazy or just not funny—and that’s when your chances of scoring plummet. So throw out a line from Wedding Crashers or send a picture of Beauty and the Beast (“Us?”)—seriously, anything. Leave the simple texts for your mom.
6. Giving a one-word response
Have you ever imagined yourself being lit on fire? She has—when you responded “k” to her three-paragraph text about buying a sandwich this afternoon. No matter how mundane or trivial the subject matter, if you like her, you will coerce your thumbs to form a proper response. Throw in an emoji for good measure.
On the other hand, Masters believes you can use this to your advantage. If she’s breaking the rules (i.e. drunk and trying to define your relationship status at 3 a.m.), your “k” shows you’re mature—and will leave her groveling in the morning.
7. Texting your deepest feelings
Text message 101—any emotional conversation via text is an obvious no-no. Yet since so many men still make this blunder, it has to be said. If you have feelings to share, pick up the phone or run the risk of sounding pathetic.
And just for good measure, don’t ever start a text with “We need to talk,” “I’ve been meaning to tell you,” or “So I went to the doctor…”
8. Playing the horndog
Yes, we know the 8-megapixel camera on the iPhone may make her photos to you feel like your own personal Playboy, but overly sexual demands are a quick way to turn her from hot to cold. “Send me a pic,” and “What ru wearing” sound juvenile and pervy.
That doesn’t mean she’s not willing to get a bit frisky. “It’s completely acceptable to sneak in the sexual as long as it is shrouded in humor,” says Masters. Ease your way into the topic gradually—and keep it light. Leave the real sex for the bedroom.
9. Sloppy drunk messages
The only thing worse than the head-slamming hangover resulting from your Saturday night blackout is the pang of horror that hits you when recollecting the texts you sent the night before. Whichever disastrous message outcome came from combining mistakes ten (wazup wher chi at) and three (send me a pic of that ass), chances are she can no longer take you seriously—or thinks you’re a pig.
If you can’t achieve straight up self-control, at least there’s an app for that.
10. Crack texting
The king of all texting fouls, “crack texting” —as Masters defines it—means sending multiple messages without any or equal response. Frequency is the most powerful component in her view of you. Inability to set the pace will make or break your situation. The rules to live by: one text at a time, take your time, and don’t answer her every text. Otherwise, expect her to delete your number.