Life Advice



The secret sauce of text convos: playful reciprocity

Erika Ettin, Tribune News Service on

Published in Dating Advice

Do you often find yourself stuck in an endless loop of lackluster text chains with potential matches?

It’s a common dating app woe, but thankfully, it’s one that you have the power to turn around to work in your favor. Whether you like texting or not, it’s an integral part of modern-day courtship. The sooner you accept that and engage with your texts or in-app DMs, the sooner your connections will be bringing you more fun, excitement and actual IRL (in real life) DATES.

Here’s one useful tip for upping the odds on better text outcomes: If you’re looking to get to a date, choose to always reciprocate. (Oh, look -- we’re rhyming now!)

While we cannot control the behavior of others, we do have the power to harness our own efforts. The more we intentionally reciprocate on the bids others make for attention, the more our text conversations are going to flow.

Think of reciprocating via text as though you’re engaged in a tennis match.

For example, a potential suitor lobs a ball your way: “Hey. How was your day?”


Now, because this isn’t the most exciting entry into the game (in fact, I tell my own clients to ban, “How’s your day?” and “How’s it going?” from their texting lexicon), you may think that it’s an acceptable reciprocation to offer up a response such as, “Fine.” or “Good. Yours?” And in pure mechanics, sure, you are reciprocating. But in reality, when your goal is to create connection, responses like those are more like no response at all. Think of them as dropping the ball.

The true art of reciprocation is all about infusing intention and playfulness into your responses. You want to show that you’re “game” or open to playing, and willing to be lighthearted. An upbeat tone is especially important in the beginning while you’re just getting to know one another.

Here are some sample responses to the boring “How was your day?” question that keep the conversational tennis ball in action:

-- “I had a life changing burrito from this little food truck outside my office for lunch. What’s your stance on cilantro?"


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