Do you find yourself sending the same text messages over and over?
Have you left your partner on ‘read’ sometimes, not because you don’t want to talk, but because you just have no idea what to say?
If you’re feeling stuck, don’t worry – there’s a formula to good text messages, just as there’s a knack to having a good conversation or writing a good email. A good text conversation should be:
- Easy to fit into your daily life without feeling like ‘a chore’
- Easy-going and fun – there’s no need to overthink everything
- Mindful of each other’s boundaries and communication styles
- Not your only way of staying in touch
Here are 10 ways to send better texts to your long distance partner.
1. Keep it light and fun (most of the time)
A WhatsApp or SMS thread isn’t the place to discuss serious disagreements, deliver devastating news or fight with your partner. It’s far too easy to misunderstand each other’s intentions when you’re missing all the subtle nuances of body language and tone. So, if you have something heavy to discuss, giving your S.O. a heads up and then switching to a more multi-sensory method of communication (like a video chat) is usually a much better idea than texting.
I can think of one caveat to this, though. In my case, whenever I was (or am) feeling anxious, I know I can text my partner and he’ll be there for me. Most of the time when this happens, I’m outside and/or on public transport, so I don’t feel comfortable using video or audio. This is where texting can be a great blessing!
So – follow this rule when you can, but don’t overthink it if you can’t – it’s better to share via text than to suffer in silence 🙂
2. Don’t be afraid of emoji and gifs (but still be yourself)
There seem to be two kinds of people in the world: those that use emoji and colourful gifs for everything and those who are terrified of using them for fear of appearing childish or unsophisticated.
But texting is just as much about the visuals as it is about the words. Switching yours up with gifs, emoji and photos – when appropriate – can inject some real energy into your conversations.
Of course, you shouldn’t feel like you have to send your partner quirky gifs of clips from The Office if that doesn’t reflect your personality. Instead, make it genuine to your relationship and your personality by referencing the shared jokes, favourite shows and memories you have with your partner.
3. Use a variety of apps to communicate
I like to think of long distance communication as one long conversation with multiple layers.
What do I mean by that? Well, think about it: when a couple shares a physical space together (like sharing an apartment), conversations with a definite beginning and ending are only one part of how they communicate.
In contrast, LDRs tend to fall into the trap of trying to have ‘proper’ conversations all the time until you run out of things to talk about. So how can you create some of this same depth and complexity you’d achieve by sharing your space in person? One way to do it is to stay in touch in multiple ways.
Here are some of the possibilities:
- Offline communication, such as snail mail letters or sending care packages (occasionally, perhaps once every couple of months)
- Shared projects, like keeping a shared Pinterest board or adding movies to your Letterboxd watch list (as and when you feel like it)
- Texting (every day)
- Video calls and virtual dates (a few times a week)
- Syncing up your calendars
When you communicate in a variety of ways, things don’t get stale and you are less constrained by the limitations of any one specific method. You can also stay present in each others’ lives without having to initiate a conversation in the same way over and over again.
4. Try to match their pace
Nothing feels more jarring than a one-sided conversation, so if your tendency is to text at 1,000 miles an hour and they tend to be a little slower responding, try to reign it in after one or two messages and give them time to reply.
This also applies the other way round: if you always get a reply straight away from your S.O. but you prefer to leave it half an hour before responding, can you find a way to meet in the middle?
This doesn’t mean throwing your communication style out of the window and forgetting all about your personal boundaries – quite the opposite. It’s about respecting each other’s particular way of communicating and finding a comfortable balance that makes both of you feel appreciated.
5. Surprise them
People sometimes think spontaneity is about making big, romantic gestures, but it can be as simple as sending a message at a different time than usual, suggesting something different to your usual date night, or texting them something interesting or funny that you saw on your commute to work.
6. Timing > linguistic perfection
I have a bad habit of not replying to messages for ages – not because I don’t care what the other person thinks, but because I obsess too much over what to write.
But this is dumb. For most people, the timing of your text matters more than making your prose absolutely perfect – and it often says just as much about how engaged you are in the conversation (and the relationship).
Keep the bigger picture in mind rather than getting stuck on the tiny details and you’ll have more natural, lively conversations.
7. Keep it balanced
There are two things that can make a conversation feel like a bit of a chore to whoever you’re talking to:
- Not asking any questions and just talking about yourself, and
- Asking all the questions and never talking about yourself
Avoid doing either one of these things. If you find your conversations stalling, read them back and count how many times you showed interest in something they mentioned, and vice versa.
8. Talk about what you’re doing right now
You and your partner don’t need to know each other’s every move and action. But if you feel like sharing what you’re doing at the time, it can give your conversation context and keep it moving – plus, it’s romantic to be able to picture where your honey is right now whilst you talk to them 🙂
Perhaps you’re on your way to work, about to take a shower, or taking refuge in the bathroom at a party you don’t want to be at? If so, try to find a natural opportunity to insert this into the conversation.
Another advantage of this is that if you’re doing something that requires most of your attention, you can subtly let them know, without coming right out and saying ‘I’m too busy to chat right now’.
Which brings me to…
9. Stick to your boundaries, but don’t leave them hanging
If you are too busy to chat, acknowledge their message as soon as you can, and then let them know that something specific needs doing, but that you will be glad to talk later.
10. Eliminate other reasons for your lack of inspiration
What if you’ve tried everything above and you still don’t know what to say to your partner? If you worry that you’re running out of things to talk about in general, that’s a very common challenge in LDRs – and luckily there are things you can do about it.
Check out the post below for more on this!