I remember the first time a boy called me on the home telephone. I was 15, his name was Brett and we met (wait for it) at debating camp. We pashed in front of the campfire and he got my number. I was out when he called so my Dad took the message. When I got home, Dad thrust a piece of paper into my hands. On it, he’d scrawled BRETT (underlined three times), a return phone number and three exclamation marks. Those were the days.
Fast forward to 2016 and it’s rare to have a phone conversation with someone even when you’ve got through the dating stage. Instead, we text. As you can imagine, and as many of my real-life friends who follow this blog will attest, I love a text message. What can I say: I’m a writing type. But I am coming to despise the use of text on the dating scene. I would actually go as far as to say it’s ruined dating.
It’s a thought that was solidified for me by this great article shared by my gorgeous friend, EM. These days, you can know when someone reads your text (read receipts ie the devil’s work), you can know when they’re writing back to you (for iPhone to iPhone texting, those flashing dots! They do my head in!). It’s just all so immediate. In an instant-gratification world, waiting for a text response becomes torture. We all have our phones on us 24/7. We are so used to everyone – friends, family, lovers, – responding to our questions or banter immediately, and a pox on anyone who makes us wait more than an hour.
As The Other Miss J said the other night, it brings out the crazy, especially when you factor in the lack of tone in text. I have looked back at text messages where, at the time, I was mortally offended by the content because I had interpreted the tone in a certain way. Turns out, in hindsight, I had completely overreacted.
The other thing about text messages, particularly when you’re dating, is that you get used to a certain level and timeliness of response. If you both have nothing to do, the texting can be fast and furious and you get used to that. Then life happens and texting takes a back seat. Case in point: Single Dad. When he doesn’t have his kids, he is mad about a text. He texts all the time. When he does have the kids, it can be a day before he responds. Which is, of course, how it should be. But then on the weeks he doesn’t have the kids and you send him a text and he doesn’t respond right away and you’re like SEND ME BACK A TEXT I KNOW YOU’RE NOT BUSY GOOD GOD HOW DID I GET SO CRAZY AND PSYCHOTIC.
Note: I am actually not that crazy despite the aforementioned combined with some of the stories on these pages. But my point is texting makes you crazy. It makes you crazier than phone calls ever did.
And don’t get me started on the blokes who seem to want an electronic pen pal so your texting ends up being a banal discussion of what’s for dinner, what’s happening this weekend, what’s the weather like etc etc. This piece from Modern Love really resonated with me. Heavens, I’ve had a few of these types.
So what’s the solution? Calling? No thanks. I despise talking on the phone and, you know what, when I try to be brave and call, I will often get voicemail and then they respond via text. We are losing the art of conversation and it’s sending us potty in the process.
I think the answer lies somewhere in the middle. Texting can be fun. But use it sparingly. Know your limits. Enjoy the quick-time banter when it happens but assume that it is the exception rather than the rule. Don’t get addicted to the ding of a text message. Call when you can. And reminisce about the magic of a message scrawled on a piece of paper once in a while.
Photo credit: Kim