Don’t Let a Flirty Wink Get the Best of You

    There was a time in the not-so-distant past that text messaging was strictly the domain of stranded middle-schoolers who wanted 2 kno when Alex’s mom wud pick them up from the movies.

    Character after painstaking character could only be hashed out on Nokia brick phones with such infuriating torpidity that it would have been unthinkable to break out the bone-softening keypad any more than was absolutely necessary.

    Fast-forward five years and one awkward adolescent bow-out, and texting has morphed into our preferred mode of communication — useful for a myriad of purposes, including (but not limited to) insta-gossip, late-night booty calls and Mexican horoscope alerts.

    Yet the flurry of LOLs and bracket emoticons whizzing through phone towers across the nation reveals a sad new reality: Few know how to work the 160-character limit to its full potential.

    And the afternoon after a defining Friday-night number swap, every unspoken word counts.

    First off, timing is everything. Tempting as the prospect may be, do not — even if you believe yourself to be employing the soundest morning-after logic in the history of the sport — reach for your iPhone upon the first rays of Saturday sun, attempting to make good on a drunken promise to “stay in touch.”

    Desperation is a virus easily identified over cellular airwaves. Even on the off-chance that your new text interest is divinely destined to be the love of your life, a premature message airs the fact that you are both eager and available — two qualities surpassed only by cargo pants and body acne on the grand scale of all things unsexy.

    Instead, adhere to a strict 24-hour rule. Waiting a full day before sending an ultra-witty flirtext will disguise your eagerness beneath a nonchalance so thick, not even the German Shepherds of hopeful conquests could catch a whiff of your fragrant longing.

    Waiting a day gives the object of your desire time to sweat it out a little — and, with any luck, strike up the desperation himself.

    But remember, surpassing the ill-fated initial error of jumping the gun does not — I repeat, does not — give you free reign to spit out burning unanswered questions (“So, do U care if the curtains match the drapes??”) at your every whim. Never undervalue keyboard restraint; it is as instrumental in crowding your Asia Hall Twin-XL on Friday night as in finding short-lived electronic love.

    Try not to get too down in correspondence downtime. Ultimately, most people who are worth your precious inbox space also lead full lives — so if your proposition for afternoon coffee (or, more transparently, late-night homework help) goes unanswered for an hour or two, do not jump to the tempting conclusion that you are an undesirable, unworthy ogre.

    Even more important, resist the urge to follow up with an asinine question to force a response — or worse, “u there???” There is always a reason for unresponsiveness (be it a preoccupying bio midterm or your own repulsiveness), so — as daunting a task as waiting it out may be — doing so will create the invaluable, if faulty, illusion that you have a life beyond this budding text romance.

    Once conversation starts to flow, drafting more substantial messages — the greatest test of all — hinges on whether your audience is more interested in how your Anthro paper went or what you’re wearing. Luckily, there are a couple universal rules of composition to guide any straying keystrokes back to the herd.

    First: Unless there’s at least a small tinge of irony, LOL is unacceptable. The default should be “haha,” and only in response to something with genuine comedic worth — but action acronyms with ’90s chat-room roots are almost always out of the question.

    Second: meticulously scribed though they may secretly be, your texts should come off as effortless. Evidently carefree composition can be achieved by purposely excluding apostrophes, capital letters or even question marks. The goal here, again, is to create the illusion of nonchalance.

    Of course, you’ll eventually have to transcend the comfort of the keypad to benefit from any kind of more gratifying oral contact. No serious conversation should ever take place through a medium once reserved for Alex’s mom and newly relegated to booty calls and small-talk.

    But if you can make the very specimen whose Facebook you’ve spent the better part of 48 hours scrutinizing believe that you have better things to do than craft the perfect creeper text, give yourself a pat on the back: you get the official texting guru’s gold asterisk, and better yet, are one step closer to some midnight “hw help.”

    Special how-to requests? Contact the guru at [email protected].

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