Dating Games: Beware relationship by proxy

Texting is a form of game-playing, plain and simple. It’s no way to date.

By TAMAR CASPI
September 24, 2010 16:35
4 minute read.
Texting is no way to date.

311_dating cartoon. (photo credit: Courtesy)

 
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Texting has become the bane of my existence. I understand its convenience, I get how it can be a subtle form of communication, and I can’t imagine not having the option to use it. But… when it comes to dating, we need to revert to the “prehistoric” era of phone calls and answering machines.

Guys: If you want to send a woman a signal that you’re interested, simply pick up the phone and call her. Texting her “hey, wazzup?” or “ma koreh?” is not going to send that same, clear message. The problem is, I think, that guys are hedging their bets – in case the woman is not interested, they can claim it was a just a friendly text, whereas a phone call’s intent is more obvious.

“S” has a good friend named Nir who is a tall, handsome, smart and funny guy. Did I mention he’s a doctor? Sounds like a great catch, right? I thought so, until I saw the way he handled dating possibilities, actually using texting as his proxy.

Nir meets girls often and easily, but drops the ball soon after – and now I no longer wonder why. The one consistent thread? He communicates solely via text: testing the waters, checking the calendar, finalizing plans, even sending a post-date wrap-up message.

When “S” and I met Nir at a really trendy Tel Aviv restaurant, throughout the entire dinner Nir was flipping his phone open and closed while his thumbs furiously punched the alphanumeric keys. Whenever the phone vibrated and sent reverberations across the table, I would watch as his eyes and the LED screen lit up simultaneously. He was addicted – but, I think, more addicted to the chase via text than to the lady on the other end.

Nir said that when he did call this woman, she wouldn’t answer but would instead text him. I told Nir she was playing games and was probably not really into him, or was already dating someone else. So when Nir asked my advice on how to respond to a specific text that left him befuddled, my answer was: Call her.

He made up excuses right and left; my bottom line remained that he should avoid further miscommunication by speaking to this woman directly. But he continued to wonder how to “translate” her message, and about what kind of idiosyncratic subtext he could formulate as a reply.



Ugh!

 I kept trying to impress upon Nir why a phone call would clear up the confusion, and save him time and energy as well. But no matter what I said, or how much I insisted, Nir was relentless in his support of texting.

Was he afraid of rejection, or did he lack confidence in his speech? Maybe he simply wasn’t that interested or intrigued enough by the woman to make the effort to call; maybe he didn’t really want the relationship to come to fruition.

Each of these possibilities is realistic and universal. But they’re the same anxieties singles have had for all eternity, and resorting to text messages is not the solution. Texting is a form of game-playing, plain and simple.

The amount of miscommunication that can result from 160 characters on a oneand- a-half-square-inch screen sent via the Short Message Service (SMS) gateway is infinite. To top it off, the amount of time it takes to type the message, abbreviating certain words and phrases to use fewer characters and keep to one screen, and yet still be smooth and charming, is dumbfounding. You could have a full-length phone conversation in that time and accomplish a lot more – if you simply had the guts to dial a phone number.

People have come to depend on the time-lapse between texts so they can create the best response and not accidentally stick their feet in their mouths. Understandable, but not quite as much fun as laughing over the faux pas together.

The simple fact is that men and women both will always, always, always prefer a phone call. If he or she doesn’t answer, leave a message (or, if you’re in Israel, hang up before the voicemail picks up so you’re not charged for the call, and hope the other person checks their caller ID and returns the phone call). If you don’t receive a call back, don’t waste your time by following up with a text. Cut your losses and move on.

If someone wants to talk to you, he or she will contact you. He’s Just Not That Into You isn’t just a best-selling book or movie with a star-studded cast, it’s also a tried-and-true philosophy. If someone is into you and likes you and wants to get to know you better, he or she will most definitely call, answer your call, or return your call.

If someone is not exactly interested in you but doesn’t have anything else going on, he or she will send a halfhearted text.

If someone is plain and simple not feeling you, you’ll never hear from him or her again.

Conclusion: If you eliminate texting as a proxy and get into some real communication, the signals will be that much clearer.

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