The Crucial Difference Between ‘Texting’ And ‘Dating’

It’s actually a pretty big leap from one to the other.

With the onset of dating apps and social media, it’s easier than ever to connect with new people — and you don’t even have to leave your couch to do so. The digital age has added a new dynamic to the realm of casual dating.

In the past, in order to foster a relationship with someone you were interested in, you’d have to put forth a great deal of physical effort. Things like dinner dates, movie dates — and dates in general — were a lot more relevant 20 or 30 years ago than they are today. Nowadays, if we’re interested in someone, we can just shoot them a text and take it from there. And this has made it a lot easier for us to maintain relationships with people, albeit casually.

If you’re interested in someone, you should be transparent about your intentions — especially if you plan on carrying out a lot of your chats through text.

If you’ve got a dating app installed on your phone — and a modicum of ambition — it’s not uncommon to find yourself speaking to more than one person at a time, with the potential for romance with each one. This isn’t to say that you’re promiscuous or disloyal to the people you’re involved with, because, most of the time, they’ll be talking to other people, too; it’s simply the nature of casual dating in the year 2016.

Texting will usually serve as the first phase of casual dating. Whether you meet someone at the bar, get set up or connect on Tinder or Bumble, most relationships will start with text messages.

In most cases, texting will save you time in the long run. Instead of having to jump right into a dinner date with someone you barely know, texting allows you some time to get a feel for another person. But, keep in mind, you can only learn so much about a person through a series of blue and white chat bubbles.

Texting is the 2016 equivalent of playing the field. Just because you’re texting someone often doesn’t necessarily mean you’re exclusive with them.

At the same time, a lot can get misconstrued through text messages — specifically, the terms of your relationship. Texting can become very misleading, when it comes to someone’s romantic intentions. For instance, in the past, I’ve texted certain women solely because I enjoy conversation with them — and have had them confuse that for romantic interest. At the same time, I’ve misjudged the intentions of women whose willingness to converse with me did not belie a romantic interest.

This is all part of what makes the early stages of casual dating so challenging in the year 2016. Not only do we have to navigate subtle social cues and dating “games,” but we also have to do so over the screens of our phones. This all becomes especially confusing when you’ve been texting a girl (or a guy) for a long period of time and you begin to wonder what will come next.

For me, purely from a labels standpoint, “talking” is the earliest form of a relationship. For the most part, in 2016, this is done through text messages. From there, talking (or texting) becomes “seeing” someone; usually regularly. After that, you’ll start formally dating someone. In the dating phase, you’ll gain more interpersonal responsibilities.

The issue is, in 2016, a lot of people confuse texting someone for dating them. They’ll think that, just because they have a couple of conversations with someone through text, it meansthey’re entitled to the rights and privileges usually associated with dating. This is usually not the case. Just because you’re texting some person regularly doesn’t mean you’re dating them. Texting is one thing, and dating is something else.

If you’re unsure about the current state of affairs with the person you’re texting, here are some things to keep in mind.

1. Dating typically implies phone calls. Texting, well, it’s pretty self-explanatory.

When you’re dating someone, phone calls are unavoidable. Phone calls before bed, phone calls on your lunch break — phone calls when you don’t even have anything to talk about. This is one of the more obvious hallmarks that separates a serious relationship from those more casual. In today’s day and age, there is an undeniable difference between calling someone and texting them.

Although it seems trivial, calling someone shows them that you genuinely care to hear from them. Although you might be texting a few different people at once, it’s unlikely that you’ll take the effort and time out of your day to call any of those people. See what I mean? When you take the next step with someone, it’s likely that you’ll find yourself calling them more.

If you’re just texting someone, without the presence of any phone calls, I’d venture to say that the person you’re texting isn’t super serious about things.

2. Dating typically implies exclusivity. Texting, eh, not really.

As a rule of thumb, dating someone will usually imply exclusivity. If you’re going on dinner dates with someone and seeing them a few times a week, it would feel kind of awkward to be involved with other people. However, when you’re in the budding stages of texting someone, this policy is a lot more ambiguous. The way I see it, texting is the 2016 equivalent of playing the field. Just because you’re texting someone often doesn’t necessarily mean you’re exclusive with them.

If you’re unsure about who the person you’re texting is talking to, other thanf you, it probably means that your relationship is not too serious, at least not yet. In order to take any relationship seriously, you’re going to need a commitment. If you’ve been texting someone for a while without any talks about exclusivity or a deeper commitment, I wouldn’t expect your relationship to take the next step anytime soon.

3. With dating comes unscheduled pop-ins. With someone you’re texting, all in-person encounters are arranged in advance.

When you’re dating someone seriously, the prospect of them “popping in” to your apartment, pretty much at any time, shouldn’t be too overwhelming. When you’re in a relationship with someone, you’ve gotta follow an open-door policy of sorts. That said, when you’re just texting someone — and seeing them casually — the idea of stopping by their house without warning would be unheard of.

Regardless of how you choose to communicate — whether by phone, text, Twitter DM, whatever — the foundation of any real relationship will rest on the commitment. It’s easy to get swept away by new relationships that may appear to be more serious than they actually are, and most of the time, texting only adds to this sense of ambiguity and confusion. If you’re interested in someone, you should be transparent about your intentions — especially if you plan on carrying out a lot of your chats through text.

But, whatever you do, don’t assume that the other person is automatically interested in you just because you text each other. That’s where you’ll run into trouble.