Let’s be real here: texting with someone you like can sometimes feel like you’re deciphering a code. It’s easy to get hung up on their choice of words or use of emojis (or lack thereof), and even trivial things like their punctuation. As much as the buzz of your phone and the image of their name popping up on your screen makes your heart skip a beat, it also brings up a ton of anxiety—are they interested in me? What exactly do they mean here?
To ease your worries, we spoke with human behavior and relationship expert and author of Get Over Your Ex Now! Dr. Patrick Wanis on five texting behaviors that indicate interest. With these five pieces of info in mind, their texts will seem a lot less like code and more like a diagram to whether or not they're interested!
1. They want to learn more about you as a person
The initial “talking stage” that takes place before most relationships begin can be a fun, exciting time for both people to learn more about each other. The truth is, however, guys generally don’t enjoy talking too much over text while girls can be the complete opposite, says Dr. Patrick Wanis—so, if they are making that extra effort, you’ll want to take notice of it.
"Men get very frustrated when they have to text too much, so they don't enjoy texting as much as women do,” he explains. It is quite common however that this behavior changes when you first begin talking because he may be interested in pursuing something with you—therefore, if you notice that he’s attempting to make conversation and learn more about you, that it could mean good news as far as whether he is interested in you or not.
"If he's asking things to learn about you—if he's asking questions that tell him more about who you are, then he's interested in knowing you,” says Dr. Wanis.
For example, are they asking you about your hobbies or the classes you’re taking this semester? Or maybe they’ve dove in a little deeper and asked you about your family or your career aspirations. Either way, it’s important to note whether they’re putting in the effort to learn more about you as a person, not only in terms of compatibility but also for the sheer generalization that guys don’t particularly enjoy conversing over text—there must be a reason why he’s sucking it up for you!
"Guys don't like texting back and forth endlessly, so if they're doing it in the beginning [then] they're doing it with an intention, and then they're going back to what they feel more comfortable with which is texts just for the exchange of basic information such as, "Okay I'll see you at 10 o'clock," Dr. Wanis explains. So, while this type of behavior may not last forever in established relationships, the fact that he’s texting you to learn more about you now can be a major indicator of interest.
As far as the ladies go, Dr. Wanis really emphasizes the fact that girls generally enjoy texting more than guys do, so you’ll find it much easier to fall into these types of conversations with a girl!
2. They take interest in what you’re doing
Sure, it’s easy to casually send a “What’s up?” type of text, but according to Dr. Wanis, if they’re interested in you, they’re not only interested in learning about you, but they also want to know what you’re up to and when you can get together.
"Guys tend to be more direct, so if they're interested in you, they will be actually thinking of when they're going to see you,” Dr. Wanis explains. “They won't just be saying, '"Hey, what's up?"' which might be their initial way of contacting or connecting with you—they're going to go one step further and say, '"What are you doing? What are you doing now? What are you doing tomorrow? What are you doing Saturday?'"
Since guys tend to be more direct and girls tend to be more subtle, don’t be afraid to show interest in their plans! At the end of the day, everyone appreciates direct answers, and it helps to match their interest with yours if it’s there.
3. They respond in a timely manner
If Dr. Wanis teaches you one thing, it’s that you should not play games. It can be common in the initial stages of talking that both people are guilty of waiting a couple hours or maybe even days (see: ghosting) to respond. This could be for reasons such as either one of you doesn’t want to come off as eager, or like you have nothing better to do. We’ll let you in on a little secret—these are huge no-nos!
In reality, someone who is interested will respond as soon as they can and will actually want to. And if they’re busy with friends, studying or at work? They’ll let you know and provide a reasonable explanation. And in return, they’ll want to talk to someone who will respond back right away as well.
"I teach [to] never play games. Because you're starting the relationship off with deceit. Even if it's dating, that’s just deceit,” says Dr. Wanis. “So, don't play games, don't be deceitful. If you're able to respond, respond! If you're not able to respond in that moment because you're studying or busy or working, then you write back later and say, "'Hey I got your text earlier today, this is the first chance I've had to respond.’”
Yup, it’s as simple as that, really! If someone tries to respond to you in a timely matter, you can be confident that they’re interested; however, it is a two-way street!
4. They’ll look for more opportunities to see you
So, now you’ve got a groove going—you’ve been exchanging texts for a little while now, have learned more about each other and they’ve shown obvious interested in what you’re up to and what your plans are. So, what else can indicate interest?
“If he's really interested, he then asks you out on a date,” says Dr. Wanis. “He asks to get together with you. Invites you to places. He becomes more inclusive in his texts. He tells you what he's doing, he asks what you're doing, and then he asks you out on a date."
It’s important to note that not everyone moves at the same speed, so don’t be discouraged if the person you’re talking to hasn’t asked you out on a date within the first couple days—he easily could just not be ready yet!
5. They’re direct (or at least expressing interest) in what they want
Generally speaking, Dr. Wanis stresses that guys are more direct, especially with texting, while girls are more subtle. So, while it is a whole lot easier to receive a direct answer, ladies leave more delicate cues—pay attention to the small details!
"Guys tend to be very direct and they tend to be thinking more in cause and effect, and they have an objective—the girl will be more subtle,” says Dr. Wanis. “She won't come out right and say 'I want to go out with you.' She’ll express interest in a more subtle way.”
While it can be scary to answer a direct question, it’ll only work in your benefit to be straight-up with your answer. "Answer the bloody question! Answer it directly," Dr. Wanis says with a laugh. "Just be honest.” Both girls and guys will certainly appreciate the honesty!
But if their questions are anything but direct? Pay attention to how he or she is expressing interest, especially from a girl. If your text exchange turns flirty, then maybe toss out a feeler or two to see how she responds. Compliments are a major sign of interest, but make sure that she’s not just being friendly!
Dr. Wanis also notes that some people are emoji people and others are not. “I think, generally speaking, women use them much more than men do,” he says. So while emoji use does definitely depend on the person, they could be key in figuring out whether or not she’s interested. Plus, there’s no defined rule out there that says only guys can be direct. If you’re a girl talking to another girl, for example, and feel like you’re in a subtle-texting stalemate, it may be in your best interest to ask her if she likes you, especially if you’re unsure whether or not she is interested in dating girls.
Talking to someone you’re crushing on can be quite nerve-wracking at times, especially if you want to pursue a relationship. Texting should be a fun and light way to getting to know each other, but with these little tips in mind, you can feel more confident about whether someone is expressing genuine interest in you or not. And if that’s not enough to convince you, I’ll leave you with this:
"Remember this—when a guy really wants something, he will tear down the wall,” says Dr. Wanis. “He will climb the mountain. He will cross the river. He'll walk through the fire to get it. And that includes you. If the guys not interested he'll make no effort, and he'll come up with lots of excuses. But when he's really interested, he will make every effort. And nothing will stop him."
While Dr. Wanis let us in on what guys are thinking, we think this can be applied to all genders—so just be confident and have fun!