I’m Not Great At Texting

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Dear Meredith,

I’m a 28-year-old guy who has moderate success getting numbers, but sometimes I struggle to get to the first date. I’m a history major and serious writer and have a hard time coping with the limited nature of text messaging.

How do I express genuine intimacy and enthusiasm over a text message?

– Limited


One of my first jobs in the features/arts section of the Globe was writing about things to do in Boston.

The column wasn’t just a list of events; it was also supposed to be a fun read. The challenge was that I only had about 75 words to describe each event. I couldn’t ramble on. The work taught me that crafting something short can involve more “serious writer” skills than a 5,000-word story.

That surprised me then, but now it’s obvious. Social media has shown that some of the best writers get the most out of a small number of characters. Short messages are not limiting; they are a great challenge. Sometimes they can be very fun.

Texts can reveal great intimacy and enthusiasm, and not every message has to be perfect and clever. Your letter is 54 words – one of our shortest ever. But I get a strong sense of your personality, goals, and frustration. You are capable of being clear and concise – with emotion.

My first piece of advice is to be honest with people when you’ve hit a wall with texts. Say, “Hey, up for a call? My brain is done with texting for the night.” A lot of people will be thrilled to escape the back and forth. After you get to know someone a bit, you can tell them that texting is not your favorite way to communicate.

My second piece of advice is to text questions. Whenever you’re stumped, make it about the other person. So many people monologue about themselves. Show that you can be curious.

A third piece of advice? Read some Dorothy Parker. She always reminds me that you only need a few words to say the most important things with great spirit.

– Meredith

Readers? Advice for a more serious writer who doesn’t love texting? How important are texts before a date? Any alternatives?

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