(photo credit: Courtesy)
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
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.
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
isn’t just a best-selling book or movie
with a star-studded cast, it’s also a tried-and-true philosophy. If
into you and likes you and wants to get to know you better, he or she
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
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
will be that much clearer.