How to Decode Relationship Techno-Speak

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Communicating via technology when dating may be easier in some ways, but decoding what your crush means can actually be pretty confusing. It’s tough to decipher another person’s emotions and intentions when all we see are words or emojis on a computer or mobile screen.

Often times, tone of voice and sincerity can’t be conveyed through these sorts of messages, and we begin to literally and figuratively read into the words, sparking thousands of questions and assumptions. Does he like me? Is he mad? Is he ignoring me? According to a recent study by online dating sites ChristianMingle and JDate, 69 percent of singles didn’t even know whether they were on a ‘real date’ the first time they hung out!

The conclusions we create — whether correct or not — jumpstart how we proceed in pursuing the relationship, and can inevitably make or break it before it’s even begun. So before you find your head spinning in circles trying to interpret whether he or she’s into you, use this guide to understanding their techno-speak.

The Ins and Outs of Text Messages

Texting is probably the most confusing form of communication, but it’s also the most utilized. According to ChristianMingle and JDate’s Mobile’s Impact Dating & Relationships study, 82 percent of singles use texting over any other mobile device features. Here’s how to interpret a text, from how long it takes him to respond to the very last period and emoji at the end of the sentence.


Just because your dating prospect doesn’t text back immediately, doesn’t mean he doesn’t want to talk to you. Before getting concerned, give him the benefit of the doubt. He may be busy, at work or in a place without service. People are never too busy to talk to someone they’re genuinely interested in, so give him at least three hours (which is the average response time 60 percent of singles expect); after that, he may just not be that into you.


Sometimes the placement of a period or use of a question mark does matter because it helps determine tone of voice. We tend to think that a period at the end of a text sentence conveys an abrupt and succinct tone, when in fact it’s the proper use of the period. Before assuming that your crush is mad, take into account that he may just be adept at grammar. The same rule can be applied to question marks, unless it’s an unclear question. If you receive messages like “Hello?” or “I thought you were going out?” those may be indications of anxiousness, impatience or annoyance.


If he starts responding in one-word messages, he’s likely losing interest and is trying to dispel the conversation. However, if you recognize his messages are longer than yours, chances are he’s really interested.

Emojis and Buzz Words

Don’t let the emoji with hearts for eyes or the cute sentiments fool you. Typing and texting are the easiest ways to put on that mobile charm. It’s easy to compliment on a screen because it removes the instantaneous rejection that could have resulted in person. Always check for sincerity and his capability to follow-through before believing the things you want to hear.

Clinging vs. Ghosting

Furthermore, there is such a thing as too much communication. The survey notes that 46 percent of singles have been annoyed with someone they’re dating for sending too many text messages in one day. Incessant calling and texting may be a sign of someone who’s needy, clingy, has trust issues or lacks self-confidence. Also remember it’s a sure sign he isn’t looking for a serious relationship if the only incessant communication you receive is past 10 p.m.

On the other hand, if you’ve tried to text, call or message your crush and haven’t heard from him in a few days, you may have fallen victim to “ghosting.” Ghosting is a term to describe when a date decides to no longer pursue or talk to you, without any response or any explanation, disappearing out of sight and out of mind. It’s best to leave this one be and move on.


Maybe you’ve been chatting with your online crush for quite some time and want to take it a step further in getting to know this virtual person beyond their profile picture. You may be thinking that a phone call, Skype date or even meeting face-to-face seems logical, but he doesn’t seem to agree. Perhaps he keeps avoiding situations where you hear his voice or see his face. In this case, you may be in contact with a “catfish.” A catfish, one of 2014’s new words in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, refers to someone who creates a fake online profile for deceptive purposes. When online dating, it’s important to be aware and guarded when exchanging interactions with someone who may not be who he or she says.

Overall, the nature of communication during the courtship phase will never be as clear cut as we’d like it to be. And no matter how lovesick you may be, it’s best to always take a step back and analyze what’s being said between you and your new love interest to ensure that the relationship is going in the right direction.

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Rachel Sussman is a relationship expert, licensed psychotherapist and author of The Breakup Bible.

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