Relationship coaches give courses on crafting the perfect text message


In July last year, shortly after finding someone she liked on dating app Hinge, editor Abby Norton, 24, traveled abroad for two weeks. Due to the different time zones, she and her potential match struggled to communicate via text messages over the period, but they exchanged a few messages a day anyway.

When Norton returned to Minneapolis, where she lives, the two began seeing each other. But the exchange of messages between them still felt unsatisfactory. “It was like two a day, even though we were in the same time zone,” she says.

Norton was anxious. “It came to a screeching halt one night when I ended up crying” after “a day or two had passed without hearing from him” – mainly, she said, “because it occurred to me that I probably had internal issues of my own to work out that had taken me to that point of insecurity and anxiety.”

Norton decided to enlist the help of a professional in the newly emerging field of dating courses focused specifically on texting. She took a texting communication course taught by licensed therapist and relationship coach Kelsey Wonderlin of Nashville, Tennessee.

Wonderlin had been teaching relationship courses since the fall of 2021, but as of this past September, she started focusing specifically on texting. She is one of many relationship coaching professionals looking to teach clients the written communication skills needed to take dating from the online world into real life – and help them stay there.

Among the questions they try to help their clients answer are: What’s a great first message to send on a dating app? How to flirt in a way that isn’t creepy or obnoxious? What if the other person just doesn’t respond at all?

Relationship coach Blaine Anderson, 33, from Austin Texas, has nearly 180,000 followers on Instagram. Her videos about texting are popular with her mostly male audience. This fact, added to her personal experiences of receiving strange or excessive messages on dating apps, led her to launch last August the Texting Operating System course, which aims to “eliminate stress and men’s anxiety about communicating with women via text messages”.

According to Damona Hoffman, a relationship coach in Los Angeles and New York and host of the “Dates & Mates” podcast, many people get bogged down in “textationships.”

Text messaging has become an integral part of relationships, she says, and her course “The Dating Accelerator”, which costs $1,297 (about R$6,600) and combines face-to-face and by video, teaches people how to prevent this from happening.

Despite the widespread use of dating apps, experts like Hoffman, Wonderlin and Anderson feel that our society as a whole still lacks digital communication skills. The reason for this, for Wonderlin, is that there is no place people can go to learn how to start and maintain a healthy relationship. Instead, many are forced to figure out how to do it on their own.

After all, texting is still a relatively new medium of communication. “Our brains are not wired to think” about messages longer than 100 characters, points out Anderson. Firing text messages is practical, but it lacks the depth and nuance of face-to-face conversations. “It’s hard to summarize our complex feelings in short messages, so it’s easy to say the wrong thing by mistake.”

Hoffman says it’s not surprising that so many people are struggling. Many people like to send text messages due to the speed and efficiency, but there is still a lot of room for misinterpretation. One friend might advise you to take your time responding to a message so you don’t seem too eager, but another might recommend that you send repeated messages to make your interest very clear. The result is confusion.

“Sound communication education has always been lacking,” says Wonderlin. “But today, because most people meet each other online and immediately start texting each other, they have started to shape their communications into a new relationship around those messages.” And since many people prefer texting rather than the phone before meeting face-to-face, “it’s important to set the tone for healthy two-way communication from the very beginning.”

Blaine Anderson’s two-hour video course costs $149 and is divided into seven modules that cover common dating scenarios, from how to take a conversation into the real world to how to get one. second date. The course mainly focuses on the psychology behind different messages and offers message templates.

Wonderlin’s $333 video course takes students through five modules. To begin with, it deals with the importance of creating healthy communication from the beginning of a relationship. It then talks about different styles of texting – the short and dry communicator, the excited, the compulsive, and the distracted – helping students understand what might be seen as a worrisome sign and what the specific style is. of text communication of each person.

The course then teaches participants how to avoid falling into an anxiety spiral when someone sends a one-word reply or doesn’t respond right away.

Engineer Dan Leader, 36, of Detroit, signed up for Anderson’s course in December. “When I got along with someone online, it rarely resulted in actual encounters, and when there were encounters, they didn’t happen again,” he says.

Since taking the course, “I’ve been writing messages with intent and purpose,” he says. “I ask questions to get to know the person a little and for them to get to know me. Then I make a clear plan to set up a meeting at an appropriate time. I no longer feel the need to make small talk just to keep communicating with the person.”

Translated by Clara Allain

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