Texting a new crush is a lot like playing ping-pong. You say something, they say something, you say something again, they something again, and then you eventually make plans to get jalapeño margs and make out a lot.
But none of the above can happen if the conversation never gets off the ground.
You see, if you’ve been trying to gauge your new flame’s interest and they’re not giving you much to work with—maybe they’re sending you one-word responses; maybe they’re taking hours upon hours to respond—you may be dealing with a dry texter.
Dry texting is what happens when someone sends you short replies that don’t move the conversation forward. It usually consists of one-word answers like the dreaded ‘K,’ says dating coach Alexis Germany. And when you’re just getting to know someone, it can be hard to tell if someone is not into you or just not into texting.
While you could throw your screenshots in the group chat and let all your friends decipher their texts, you have more important things to do and don’t want to invest even more time and energy into a conversation that might be going nowhere.
So if you think your texts are fizzling out or you want to see where your crush it at, here’s everything you need to know about dry texting—including how to spot it, how to stop it, and how to know when it times to take the L.
What Is Dry Texting?
Dry texting is what happens when someone gives you short, non-engaging replies in a texting conversation. It can also be super repetitive and just plain boring, says Claudia Cox, a relationship coach and founder of Text Weapon. “A great example of dry texting is the person who always starts a conversation with ‘Hey’ followed by ‘What’s up?’ and that’s about as exciting as it gets,” says Cox.
For obvious reasons, this type of messaging can be exhausting because when your crush isn’t adding anything to the conversation, you may feel pressure to keep the back and forth going. (Especially if they’re super hot and you want to kiss their face.)
But don’t worry just yet: Cox notes that in every connection, from a new crush to a full-on partner, some dry texting is expected.
“Even the hottest, most passionate couples will go through periods when the conversation lulls,” Cox says. “One partner could be tired, stressed out, feeling sick or just burning the candle at both ends.”
Pricilla Martinez, CEO of Regroop Coaching, agrees that a conversation lull doesn’t mean game over. “For some, texting is just a tool to make plans to meet up,” Martinez says. “Don’t assume the conversation is drying up because they’re not interested.”
Keep in mind that dry texting is typically a consistent pattern of one-word answers or fizzling conversations. So someone hitting you with a “Hey” or “K” every once in a while doesn’t mean the convo is dried up.
What Are Some Examples of Dry Texting?
As the experts say, it’s hard to spot dry texting from a single message. While someone “thumbs up” responding to your last or just sending a “haha” may make you want to throw your phone off a cliff, dry texting means a series of fruitless conversations. Here’s what the experts say to look out for:
- Repeatedly sending one-word answers.
- Keeping conversation short and not asking more questions or engaging you in conversation.
- Ignoring or glossing over photos, links, or memes that you send.
- Never texting you first and/or never starting conversations.
- Leaving you on read for days at a time.
Signs Your Texting Is Turning Dry
Here’s a dose of reality: Sometimes good, promising conversations will dry up, says Cox. It’s kind of inevitable. Whether your crush isn’t over their ex or if they started texting some new Tinder person, they may dry up your conversation rather than tell you directly they’re not feeling it.
“If they were always super-quick to respond with fun, upbeat messages and then suddenly you find yourself hanging on read for days, they might be trying to slowly step away from the conversation and you,” says Cox.
Here are some of those warning signs:
- They take longer to get back to you.
- They send random, low-effort messages that aren’t leading to a date.
- They send shorter, less enthusiastic texts.
- They avoid invitations to meet up or FaceTime, make excuses and cancel plans last minute, or pretend to be completely unaware that you’re asking to hang out IRL.
How to Prevent Dry Texting
The first step in stopping dry texting is figuring out for what reason the convo is going dry. Your crush may not be a huge texter or they may be super busy at work. If you’re really interested in them, check in with them about the texting lull.
You’ll also want to get to know the person’s communication style, says Martinez. “Don’t be afraid to ask if they prefer talking on the phone, FaceTiming, or just meeting up.”
Especially because texting someone you don’t know that well is hard. You can’t tell their tone, you can’t read their body language, and you can’t be sure they knew you were joking when you sent the Paris Hilton “Stop Being Poor” meme. Asking to hop on the phone or meet in person may give you a better sense of your crush’s communication style.
It’s also possible the conversation is turning dry because of something that was said that threw them off. "Clear the air, and if nothing changes, then you know it’s probably that their interest isn’t there,” confirms Cox.
Now if asking to meet up seems a little early or premature, our experts suggest switching up your texting style. “Think of engaging and thought-provoking questions to ask,” Germany says. “Try questions like ‘What was the best part of your day today?’ or if they mentioned something specific they were doing, ask about it.”
In addition to asking more specific questions, Germany suggests scaling back the texting a little bit. If you feel like you’ve been doing all the work, slow down your texting and see if your crush picks it back up.
“A good goal is to aim for a 1:1 ratio, like an in-person conversation,” says Cox. This means you should actively try to match their responses and how much effort you’re putting in.
Cox also suggests taking a look at your own texting style as well. If you are texting a crush like you would text your best friend (aka not holding anything back, texting full-on rants, and giving play-by-play accounts of your entire day, take a step back, says Cox.
“Steer clear from 300-word mega texts, random texts about topics they know nothing about, or over-texting him to the point they’ve run out of things to say.”
When It’s Time to Give Up
I don't know who needs to hear this, but dating is supposed to be fun. If you find yourself pacing in your bathroom and totally stressed about a texting conversation in the very early stages, it’s likely time to move on.
“If you find the conversation more frustrating than fun, it’s time to give it up,” Germany says. “If you are still unsure, don’t text first and see how long it takes for them to reach out. If they reach out pretty quickly, the situation might be able to be salvaged with some direct communication, but if it takes days or weeks, it’s time to move on.”
In the event your crush really doesn’t like texting, our experts suggest offering a different way to chat—like FaceTiming, hopping on a call, making plans IRL, etc. But if they’re still dodging the alternative communicative methods, it’s time to take the L.
Germany notes that if someone’s into you, they’ll likely figure out some way to chat. And Cox adds you don’t want to waste your time on someone who’s not invested in you.
That said, “If you are truly into them and everything seems to click when you are together in person, they hold true to their word and seem to genuinely care about you but are a dry texter, limit your text exposure to them and make plans in person,” Cox says. “If they seem as aloof in person as they do via text, move on.”
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.
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