“I’m never sure what to say when I’m texting someone, especially someone I don’t know very well. Sometimes, I worry that I’m a boring texter, and I can’t think of any funny or interesting conversation starters.”
Texting can be a good way to stay in touch with someone, get to know them better and make arrangements to meet in person. But you might struggle to think of things to say or how to keep the conversation going. In this article, you’ll learn how to make friends with someone over text.
If you’ve had a great conversation with someone and clicked over a mutual interest, suggest that you exchange numbers. This may feel a little awkward, but it gets easier with practice. For example, you could say, “I’ve really enjoyed our chat! Can I get your number? It’d be great to stay in touch.”
The next step is to follow up within a couple of days. Use your mutual interest as a reason to stay in contact when you text a friend for the first time. Ask them a question, share a link, or get their opinion on a topic.
- [To someone you met at a cooking class]: “How did that spice mix turn out?”
- [To someone you met in your engineering seminar]: “Here’s that article on nanobots I mentioned yesterday. Let me know what you think!”
- [To someone you met at a party who shares your taste in books]: “Hey, did you know that [author you both like] has a new book coming out soon? I found this interview where they talk about it [link to brief video clip].”
Unless you know someone well, it’s usually best to follow the standard rules of text etiquette:
- Do not send excessively long texts, as this can make you come across as overeager. As a general rule, try to make your messages roughly as long as the messages you receive.
- If you don’t get a response to a message, do not send multiple follow-up texts. If you have an urgent question, call.
- Match the other person’s emoji usage. If you overuse them, you may come across as too enthusiastic.
- Do not break up long messages into several shorter messages. Sending multiple texts when one would do can trigger multiple notifications, which can be annoying. For example, text, “Hey, how are you? Are you free Saturday?” instead of “Hey,” then “How are you?” followed by “Are you free Saturday?”
- Spell words correctly. You don’t have to use perfect grammar, but your messages should be clear and easy to read.
- Be aware that adding a period after a one-word answer (e.g., “Yeah.”) can make your message come across as less sincere.
Close friends often break these rules and develop their own style when texting. You don’t need to follow these rules forever. However, it’s sensible to use them in the early days of your friendship.
When you get to know someone in person, asking thoughtful questions is a good way to find out what you have in common and build rapport.
The same principle applies when you’re getting to know someone over text. Begin with small talk and gradually introduce more personal topics. At the same time, try to avoid firing off too many questions. Aim for a balanced conversation where you both share things about your thoughts and feelings. See this guide for more tips: How to have a conversation without asking too many questions.
Instead of closed or “Yes/No” questions, ask questions that encourage the other person to give you more details.
- “How was the concert on Friday night?” rather than “Did you go to the concert on Friday night?”
- “What did you do on your camping trip?” rather than “Did you have a good trip?”
- “Oh, you read the book too, that’s cool! What did you think of the ending?” rather than “Did you like the ending?”
When it’s your turn to reply to a message, do not give one-word answers unless you want to shut down the conversation. Respond with a detail that will move the conversation along, a question of your own, or both.
Them: Did you check out that new sushi place?
You: Yes, and their California rolls are great! Loads of vegetarian options too
Them: Oh, I didn’t know you were a vegetarian? I’ve been getting into more plant-based foods lately…
You: I am, yes. What kind of things have you been trying?
When you have a face-to-face conversation, you can use your body language and facial expressions to show how you feel, which is lost over text. Use emojis, GIFs, and pictures instead to convey emotion.
Instead of texting “Hey” or “What’s up?” you could try some of these strategies to open a conversation with a new friend over text:
- Share things you think they’ll like, such as an article or short video clip that’s relevant to one of their hobbies, and ask for their opinion. For example: “So this list of Top 100 American movies…do you agree with #1? Seems an odd choice to me…”
- Share something unusual that happened to you. For example: “Well, my morning’s taken a weird turn… our boss called a meeting and said we’re getting an office dog! How’s your Tuesday going?”
- Share something that made you think of them. For example: “Hey, saw this amazing cake in the bakery window. [Send photo] Reminded me of the one on your Instagram!”
- Bring up something you’re looking forward to, then ask them for a general update. For example: “I can’t wait to head out to the mountains this weekend! First camping trip of summer. Do you have any plans?”
- Ask for recommendations or advice. If your new friend loves sharing their knowledge or expertise, ask them for help. For example: “You said you spend too much time on Asos, right? I need a smart outfit for my sister’s graduation next week. Any brands you’d recommend?”
Some websites publish lists of sample text messages you can send to a friend or crush. You might be able to find some entertaining ideas for conversation topics, but before using them, ask yourself, “Do I think my friend would actually find this interesting?” Do not ask a question or use a random line just for the sake of it.
Some people only use texting to arrange in-person meetings or to exchange essential information. Some like to text friends several times per week or even every day; others are happy with occasional check-ins.
Pay attention to your friend’s usual texting pattern and, if you meet up, how they act toward you in person. This will help you gauge how interested they are in your friendship. For example, if your friend is happy to see you and you have good conversations face-to-face, they probably value your friendship but don’t enjoy texting. Try suggesting a phone or video call instead.
If someone takes a long time to respond to your texts, gives only short or non-committal answers, and doesn’t seem interested in having any kind of meaningful conversation, it might be time to focus on other people who are more willing to make an effort.
Unbalanced conversations are often a sign of an unbalanced, unhealthy friendship. Check out our guide on what to do if you’re stuck in a one-sided friendship.
When you’re talking over text with a girl or guy you like, it’s easy to overthink every message because you are keen to make them like you back.
When you like someone a lot, it’s easy to put them on a pedestal. It can help to remember that they are human. Try to see them as someone you are trying to get to know rather than someone you need to impress.
Check that you aren’t making assumptions about someone based on their sex. For example, there’s a stereotype that men don’t like to talk about their feelings, but this is a generalization. It doesn’t mean that guys aren’t interested in talking about emotions. Treat each person as an individual.
You may have read articles that tell you to wait a while before responding to a guy or girl so that you don’t come across as “too eager” or “needy.” This kind of game playing can become complicated, and it gets in the way of meaningful, honest communication. If you have time to respond to a text, it’s fine to reply immediately.
However, it’s important to remember that humor doesn’t always translate well via text message. If you’re not sure whether someone will understand that you’re making a joke, use emojis to make it clear that you aren’t being serious or literal. If they seem confused by your message, say, “Just to make it clear, I was joking! Sorry, it didn’t come across as I hoped,” and move on.
Texting can help grow a friendship, but in most cases, spending time together will help you to bond. If you’ve had some good conversations over text, ask them to hang out in person if you live close by. You may find our guide on how to ask people to hang out without being awkward helpful.
If you live far apart, suggest online activities like watching movies, playing games, or taking virtual tours of art galleries.
Avoid generic questions and answers like “How are you?” or “Yeah, I’m good, what’s up with you?” Ask engaging questions that show you are interested in the other person and their life. Emojis, photos, links, and GIFs can also make your text conversations more entertaining.
Asking meaningful questions, sharing links to things your friend will enjoy, and keeping your conversations balanced will make you come across as more likable. However, meeting and spending time together in person is usually the best way to deepen your friendship.
Start a conversation with a more personal opening question that shows you have been paying attention to whatever they have been doing recently. For example, if you are texting someone who has just started a new job, you could say, “Hey! How’s it going? Was your first week of work good?”