A podcast about texting and dating

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Welcome to Subtext!

Relationships are confusing, especially when they’re digital. What did she mean by putting a period? Why did he wait so long to respond? We’re here to talk about your toughest texting questions (and share a few stories of our own).

You can download the Subtext podcast on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify!!! or BuzzSprout.

Hosted by Sarah Ellis and Michelle McSweeney, each episode focuses on an aspect of communication in a digital dating world. Here, you can find links to the research we mention in each episode.


Episode 17: Best Foot Forward

iTunes / Google Play

Sydney’s dropping her own knowledge on us about the way we present ourselves online.

Turzio, Alyssa D. 2018 Constructed Identities and Perpetuated Inequalities in App Dating.

Ranzini, G., Lutz, C. 2016. Love at first swipe? Explaining Tinder self-presentation and motives .

Episode 16: Less Is More

iTunes / Google Play

He made things feel comfortable so quickly… What’s going on here?

Gibbs, J. Ellison, N. B., Heino, R. D. 2006 Self-Presentation in Online Personals: The Role of Anticipated Future Interaction, Self-Disclosure, and Perceived Success in Internet Dating

Holiday Special: Cuffing Season

iTunes / Google Play

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…or is it?

Cuffing Season: Defined

Episode 15: I’m Not (Always) Excited!

iTunes / Google Play

Exclamation points? A gender issue? Here for this!

Waseleski, Carol, 2017. Gender and the Use of Exclamation Points in Computer-Mediated Communication: An Analysis of Exclamations Posted to Two Electronic Discussion Lists.

Vandergriff, Ilona, 2013.Emotive communication online: A contextual analysis of computer-mediated communication (CMC) cues.

Waller, Nikki, 2018. She’s Not Mad. She’s Just Not Using Exclamation Points.

Schapitl, Lexi, 2018. The exclamation point is a loaded punctuation mark! Here’s why.

Episode 14: A Texting Scorecard??

iTunes / Google Play

Can’t tell if someone likes you? There’s an app for that.

Crushh! App. Rust, R.T., Cooil, B., 1994. Reliability Measures for Qualitative Data

Online Statistics Book (great Stats Book in the public domain)

Episode 13: It’s not O.K.

iTunes / Google Play

Read, A.W., 1963. The first stage in the history of “OK”.

Read, A.W., 1963. The second stage in the history of” OK”.

Greenspan, S., 2011. 11 Points Guide to Hooking Up: Lists and Advice about First Dates, Hotties, Scandals, Pick-ups, Threesomes, and Booty Calls.

Heath, M., 2018. Orthography in social media: Pragmatic and prosodic interpretations of caps lock.

McSweeney, M.A., 2018. The Pragmatics of Text Messaging: Making Meaning in Messages.

Halloween Special: A ghost story

iTunes / Google Play

Out of the blue, he just…vanished?

Freedman, G, Powell, D. N. Le, B., et al., 2018 Ghosting and destiny: Implicit theories of relationships predict beliefs about ghosting.

LeFebvre, Leah 2018 Ghosting as a Relationship Dissolution Strategy in the Technological Age (in The Impact of Social Media in Modern Romantic Relationships)

Episode 12: If the punctuation fits …!

iTunes / Google Play

99% Invisible Episode on the interrobang

Parkes, M.B., 2016. Pause and Effect: an Introduction to the History of Punctuation in the West.

Bazin, J.P.H.B., 1966. Plumons l’oiseau: divertissement.

Progressive Punctuation

Episode 11: 2.57 Texts to a date

iTunes / Google Play

What’s the perfect number of messages to send before you decide to meet in real life? Turns out math is involved.

Ramirez, A., Sumner, E.M., Fleuriet, C. and Cole, M., 2014. When online dating partners meet offline: The effect of modality switching on relational communication between online daters.

Boilerplate messages are about 75% as effective as customized ones.

Rosen, L.D., Cheever, N.A., Cummings, C. and Felt, J., 2008. The impact of emotionality and self-disclosure on online dating versus traditional dating.

Virtual Dating Assistants.How Many Messages Does It Take To Get Her To Meet In Person?

Episode 10: A Quirky way to Solve Dating

iTunes / Google Play

Rosena, Cheever, Cheyenne, Cummings, and Felta. 2007. The impact of emotionality and self-disclosure on online dating versus traditional dating

Larzelere, R.E. and Huston, T.L., 1980. The dyadic trust scale: Toward understanding interpersonal trust in close relationships.

Ellison, N., Heino, R. and Gibbs, J., 2006. Managing impressions online: Self-presentation processes in the online dating environment.

Episode 9: Wear your finest suit

iTunes / Google Play

Natasha Aponte set up an elaborate date with dozens – maybe hundreds – of men. Were there warnings signs before the date? If so, how could these unsuspecting men have spotted them?

Video: Dozens Of Dudes Got Duped In Mass Tinder Date At Union Square

A woman used Tinder to trick dozens of men into going on the same date

Beating the Tinder game. 800+ Matches. I’ll probably get banned for this… Boilerplate messages] are about 75% as effective as customized ones

Bruch, E.E. and Newman, M.E.J., 2018. Aspirational pursuit of mates in online dating markets.

Timmermans, E. and De Caluwé, E. 2017. Development and validation of the Tinder Motives Scale (TMS) this article discusses the Tinder matching algorithm and motivations for use

Episode 8: Haha, So Insecure

iTunes / Google Play

Jas is just looking for a guy who takes initiative. What’s with all this nervous laughter?

Provine, R. 1999. Laughter Punctuates Speech: Linguistic, Social and Gender Contexts of Laughter

McSweeney, M. 2018. The Pragmatics of Text Messaging.

Episode 7: DTF(orm a Monopoly)

iTunes / Google Play

Anybody seen that colorful new ad campaign for OKCupid? It’s about more than it might seem.

Images from the OKC DTF Campaign

Match Group Brands

Episode 6: Just Listen to my Six Pack Abs

iTunes / Google Play

People keep sending Philip photos out of nowhere—and no, we don’t mean photos of food or cats. Why so aggressive? And bonus…is it possible to hack your Tinder algorithm so you get better matches?

Timmermans, E. and De Caluwé, E. 2017. Development and validation of the Tinder Motives Scale (TMS) this article discusses the Tinder matching algorithm and motivations for use

Blackwell, C., Birnholtz, J., and Abbott, C. 2014. Seeing and being seen: Co-situation and impression formation using Grindr, a location-aware gay dating app.

Drouin, M. and Landgraff, C. Texting, sexting, and attachment in college students’ romantic relationships Author links open overlay panel.

Higgs, D. 1999. Queer Sites Gay Urban Histories Since 1600

Toma, C. L., Hancock, J. T. and Ellison, N. B.. “Separating fact from fiction: An examination of deceptive self-presentation in online dating profiles.”

Episode 5: Email’s Hidden Message

iTunes / Google Play

Email: is it only for work or does it have a place in personal relationships? After a guy confronts Taylor over email, she’s left wondering if she should really take his accusations seriously.

WebMD on Borderline Personality Disorder

Bjørge, A. K. (2007). Power distance in English lingua franca email communication.

boyd, d. (2015). It’s Complicated.

McLennan, S. (2004). Guy, Guys, and Neutrality. Proceedings from the Annual Meeting of the Chicago Linguistic Society.

Episode 4: Is Facebook the new Tinder?

iTunes / Google Play

It’s everyone’s favorite subject lately (for better or for worse)…Facebook. What happens when this digital giant takes on dating?

Constine, J. (2018, May 1). Facebook announces dating feature for meeting non-friends. Retrieved May 1, 2018.

Gatter, K., & Hodkinson, K. (2016). On the differences between TinderTM versus online dating agencies: Questioning a myth. An exploratory study. Cogent Psychology, 3(1), 1162414.

Granovetter, M. S. (1977). The Strength of Weak Ties. In S. Leinhardt (Ed.), Social Networks (pp. 347–367). Academic Press.

Smith, A., & Anderson, M. (2016, February 29). 5 facts about online dating. Retrieved May 1, 2018.

Episode 3: I’m 5’8” and other Truths

iTunes / Google Play

Kevin’s chat with Leslie got off to a fairly…short start.

Basics of Articulatory Phonetics

Read, A. W., 1963. The First Stage in the History of “O. K.” American Speech, 38(1), 5–27.

Spradlin, Lauren and Taylor Jones, 2016. A Morphophonological Account of Totes Constructions in English. Presentation at 2016 Annual Meeting of the Linguistic Society of America in Washington DC

Episode 2: Heart Emojis on a First Date?

What’s the deal with heart emojis, anyway? Do they always convey affection? Are some more serious than others? Elizabeth had a Tinder date that was going well…until the heart emojis started coming her way.

iTunes / Google Play

Stark and Crawford, 2015. The Conservatism of Emoji: Work, Affect, and Communication

Unicode Consortium, Full Emoji List, v11.0

Episode 1: Hypen-gate

Today we’re discussing a personal story that involves a bit of a punctuation crisis. Sarah’s roommate Hannah and friend Victoria are here to weigh in—is it weird to use hyphens when you’re texting someone new?

iTunes / Google Play

Fischer and Garcia, 2015. Singles in America.

Vandergriff, 2013. Emotive communication online


Want to be a guest on the podcast? Email us at: or Tweet us @SubtextPod