Beware the Context of Text

I had dinner with a friend the other night who is dating a man from another country. He speaks excellent English but it is his second language.  Sometimes that leads to communication gaps, but it’s only accentuated by the way we communicate today…the text.

She jokes that he plays the language card on texts when they get into minor arguments. He says, “Oh but I didn’t understand honey“. Translation: I forgot to do that or I just didn’t want to that. But it can also lead to unnecessary arguments. The other day he sent her a text saying, “We need to talk”. Now every man or woman in the U.S. knows that means….we need to break-up. She called him back and unleashed a tirade before he could interrupt to say, “I just wanted to hear your voice”.

Her advice to 40-somethings? Don’t read too much into texts!

Most 40-something women are grateful that texts didn’t exist when they were in their 20’s and dating but for a different reason; to save themselves from being “too available”. Their advice: Turn off the phone and enjoy yourself.

“I’m so relieved that texts didn’t exist when I was in my twenties. Now you can contact guys at any time and the messages are misconstrued. You could be mad, you could be drunk and you can contact that person that you shouldn’t contact at any time. I would say turn the phone off and don’t answer it. So much better if don’t live by the text or by the phone. You have to live for yourself and not for waiting for everything to come in on the cell. The best way for you to live your life is to just concentrate on the things that you love to do.”  — 20-something, Cleveland, OH

Others feel it lacks the commitment and empathy of real communication and is mired in ambiguity. Their advice?  Don’t expect much and don’t think it’s real.

“Never text. It’s passive aggressive and more often than not you won’t get the response you want. It’s the downfall of dating with its hidden meanings. If he doesn’t have the balls to call, he’s not worth it.” – 40-something, Los Angeles, CA

“The whole texting thing. It’s so easy to drop out when you really should be dropping in and staying in” – 40-something, Santa Monica, CA

We all have heard the story of someone who got dumped by text.  People wimp out of getting rejected or perhaps, getting a slap in the face, by texting messages that should only be communicated in person. Beyond the break-up, there is the getting asked out text. The “where is our relationship going?” text.  The “am I going to see you again?” text. The “do you miss me?” text and the “do you like me?” text.  It’s like the notes we all sent in 6th grade …”who do you like?” It seems to take us back to a more juvenile type of communication.

In the end, most women I’ve talked to have come to learn that texting can sap up a lot of emotional energy when it comes to developing relationships and dating. For all the time it saves, how many women, and men too, have you seen analyzing text messages for hours asking, “What does it mean?” I overheard a girl on the subway the other day say to a friend, “He said ‘safe trip’. Does that mean he wants to see me when I get back?” Then there is the time spent figuring out the perfectly sassy comeback.

I know it’s easy to bash texts. All this is just to say be careful and don’t expect too much.  It can be a sweet and sex way to connect and let someone know you are thinking of them. It can be a great way to make plans and a convenient way to communicate. “Pick up some vino on the way home honey.” That’s all good.  Perhaps with all the miscommunication it doesn’t save all that much time. So keep the things you “discuss” on text as simple as the form!  And lastly…don’t be afraid to text back, “if you want to talk to me, call me!”

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