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.

NEWS We’re on Spotify – Check us out!!


Episode 27: Your Data On Dating Apps

iTunes / Google Play

Protecting your data online isn’t easy, and as it turns out… your online profiles are more accessible than you’d think.

Kirkegaard & Bjerrekaer, 2016 The OKCupid dataset: A very large public dataset of dating site users

Episode 26: Mayor Pete Buttigieg Is So Freaking Millennial

iTunes / Google Play

We’re fascinated by Mayor Pete and his super relatable persona. What makes him so exciting as a condidate?

Pete for America Singles in America Report

Episode 25: So What Are You Looking For, Anyway?

iTunes / Google Play

It’s such a strange question to answer on apps. What’s the best response?

Arundale, 2006 Face as relational and interactional: A communication framework for research on face, facework, and politeness

Norrick & Spitz, 2008 Humor as a resource for mitigating conflict in interaction

Episode 24: Are We Textpatible?

iTunes / Google Play

Don’t settle for someone who can’t match your emoji used

Ohadi et al., 2018 I just text to say I love you: Partner similarity in texting and relationship satisfaction

Riordan, 2017 Emojis as Tools for Emotion Work: Communicating Affect in Text Messages

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

Episode 23: Yes, I’m Sure I’m Gay

iTunes / Google Play

When someone tells you who they are, believe them.

Beck, 2017 Lesbian Body Dissatisfaction: The Roles of Gender Identity, Body-Gender Identity Incongruence, and Internalized Appearance Ideal

Del-Teso-Craviotto, 2008 Gender and sexual identity authentication in language use: the case of chat rooms

Episode 22: Waiting For That Perfect Text Back

iTunes / Google Play

Ever played that dating game where you wait hours to text someone back? We get it.

Riordan et al., 2013 Communication Accommodation in Instant Messaging: An Examination of Temporal Convergence

Episode 21: Staging An Instagram Thirst Test

iTunes / Google Play


What happened when Andrew’s friend tried to get her ex’s attention on Instagram? It was no small feat.

Jin et al., 2019 Romance 2.0 on Instagram! “What Type of Girlfriend Would You Date?”

Episode 20: My IRL Date With My Instagram Crush

iTunes / Google Play

Peter LAM

It’s an ‘Instagram vs. Reality’ moment when Peter goes out with his social media crush.

boyd, 2014 It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens

Court, 2018‘Love Stories of Tumblr’: How the Entire Internet Became a Dating Site; Platforms for networking and blogging do double duty as matchmakers; ‘I do feel better about saying I met him through Instagram’

Russo, 2018 It’s Complicated: The Best Place to Flirt Is Instagram DM

Episode 19: How TF Is GIF’s Pronounced, Anyway?

iTunes / Google Play

Moving Pictures—you know you love them. What if we talk you they’ve been a source of controversy?

Boissoneault, 2017 A Brief History of the GIF, From Early Internet Innovation to Ubiquitous Relic

Coates, 2007 Talk in a Play Frame

Hay, 2000 Functions of humor in the conversations of men and women

Petri, 2014 President Obama weighs in on pronunciation of ‘GIF’

Episode 18: Ghosted Out Of Nowhere? Spot The Signs

iTunes / Google Play

An IRL meeting leads to online love… and then, a surprise twist.

Chin et al., 2019 Attached to dating apps: Attachment orientations and preferences for dating apps.

Drouin & Landgraff, 2012 Texting, sexting, and attachment in college students’ romantic relationships

Freedman et al., 2019 Ghosting and destiny: Implicit theories of relationships predict beliefs about ghosting

Episode 17: Why We Over-Curate Our Profiles

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: Are Shorter Messages More Casual?

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: How To Navigate Cuffing Season

iTunes / Google Play

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

Cuffing Season: Defined

Episode 15: Exclamation Points: A Feminist Manifesto

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: Rate My Date App — Our Thoughts on Crushh

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: The Dreaded ‘O.K.’ Text — It’s Not Okay

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: Sarah Gets Ghosted

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: Your Texting Punctuation Playbook

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: How Many Messages Should I Send Before Making 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: Here’s Why It’s Smart To Be Quirky On Tinder

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: That NYC Mass Tinder Date — How Did She Do It?

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: He Saya ‘Haha’ In Every Text & I’m Not Laughing

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: The Real Reason Behind OKCupid’s New Campaign

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: Hack Your Tinder Algorithm

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: My Ex Reached Out Via Email—What?

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: FAcebook Gets Into Dating

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: Why Is Everyone Shortening Words These Days?

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: The Real Meaning Of The Red Heart Emoji

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: Hypens Over Text — The Great Debate

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


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