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). You may even find yourself worrying about trivial things like their punctuation — we’ve all been there. 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 can also cause a ton of anxiety — are they interested in you? What exactly does this text mean?
To ease your worries, I spoke with Dr. Patrick Wanis, human behavior and relationship expert, on five texting behaviors that indicate interest. With these five pieces of info in mind, a person’s 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. In the case of many heterosexual relationships, however, guys generally don’t enjoy talking too much over text while women can be the complete opposite, says Dr. 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,” Dr. Wanis says. It is quite common, however, that this behavior changes when you first begin talking because they may be interested in pursuing something with you; therefore, if you notice that they’re attempting to make conversation and learn more about you, this can indicate interest in you.
“If they’re asking things to learn about you — if they’re asking questions that tell them more about who you are, then they’re interested in knowing you,” says Dr. Wanis.
For example, is this person asking about your hobbies or the classes you’re taking this semester? Have they dived 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.
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 — 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,” says Dr. Wanis. “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 of hours or maybe even days (see: ghosting) to respond. This could be for various reasons, such as you don’t want to come off as eager, or you have nothing better to do. I’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 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 at that moment because you’re studying, 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.’”
4. They’ll look for more opportunities to see you.
By now, you’ve got a groove going — you’ve been exchanging texts for a little while, have learned more about each other, and they’ve shown obvious interest 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 —they could just not be ready yet.
5. They’re direct (or at least they express interest) in what they want.
“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 for your benefit to be straight-up with your answer. “Answer the bloody question! Answer it directly,” Dr. Wanis says. “Just be honest.” Everyone will certainly appreciate the honesty!
If a person’s questions are anything but direct, pay attention to how they’re expressing interest. If your text exchange turns flirty, then maybe toss out a feeler or two to see how they respond. Compliments are a major sign of interest, but make sure that the person is 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. While emoji use definitely depends on the person, they could be key in figuring out whether or not a person is 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 and you 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, and with these little tips in mind, you can feel more confident about whether someone is expressing genuine interest in you or not.