When it comes to mastering the art of male/female interaction, text messaging is one of the few obstacles that the average competitor can clear with the use of performance enhancing devices. In this case, we like to call those devices common sense, etiquette, and basic grammar. Unfortunately (much like the realm of face-to-face interaction), such necessities can be withheld from certain individuals to a near cruel extent, causing relationships to fall apart, chemistry to dissipate, and you (yes, you), to ask yourself the inevitable, “What the f*** happened?” Women in particular seem to have an axe to grind when it comes to the way men do (or don’t) respond to text messages. Some of the most common complaints: Lack of emoticons, excessive use of capital letters, no punctuation, no response, and our personal favorite, “He says he’s busy!” After listening to various questions and gripes on how text messaging is affecting the dating game, we just had to ask, “Men… What gives?”
Let’s start with the basics – why text messaging? “Our cell phones are our lifelines,” says textPlus’s resident, ‘Textpert’, Drew Olanoff. “Very rarely do I have people in my contacts that I don’t know. Texting is primarily a one on one interaction – so it’s an intimate form of communication. There’s a certain air of privacy to texting – you know, unless you’re Brett Favre or Tiger Woods.”
Still, the average single individual is astounded by the affect a cell phone has on their existing (and often past) relationship status. Men and women often go into a bar to meet their latest and greatest – exchange numbers, and never say a word post introduction. However, they’re inevitably swapping fun, flirty text messages.
“It’s the quickest form of communication,” Olanoff explains. “In the dating realm, if you’re going to ask someone out, that face-to-face contact (especially when you’re younger) is intimidating; text messaging eliminates the awkwardness.”
You get a really good sense of who someone is via text message. If you text someone and they don’t respond for an hour and a half, this is probably someone who won’t return your calls… It’s someone who will be late for a date.
Like many means of communicating technologically, the system has its flaws. But get this: Nine times out of ten, when women complain about the texts they’re receiving, they aren’t complaining about the technology – they’re complaining about the user... on the other end, of course.
“I just don’t get it. I’m an avid BlackBerry Messenger user – so I can see when the guy I’m dating reads my messages,” says 27 year-old single lady, Christy Hall. “When he doesn’t respond, and he’s read my message, he’ll text me hours later saying that he didn’t get it, or that his phone was dead.”
Christy, we hear you. According to Olanoff, “I didn’t get your text,” doesn’t happen. “Those of us who are texters, look at our phones every time they buzz.” he explains. “You get a really good sense of who someone is via text message. If you text someone and they don’t respond for an hour and a half, this is probably someone who won’t return your calls… It’s someone who will be late for a date.”
We also wanted to know what kind of things should never be sent over a text message. Like the multitude, we’ve heard countless horror stories of SMS gone wrong. “Common sense rules apply – what texts would you not want to get from someone?” Olanoff asks. “Breaking up with someone over a text message? Not cool. Though, those people are probably jerks anyways.” he adds. “You don’t get someone’s tone over a text message either. If you want to be a smart ass, don’t do it over a text.”
Taking a moment to look back at Olanoff’s references to Brett Favre (the NFL is currently investigating whether or not Favre sent inappropriate text messages and voice mails to former Jets sideline reporter, Jenn Sterger) and Tiger Woods (assuming we’re all familiar with this one), surely avid texters can learn from these incidences?
“Watch when sending pictures. Texts are very private, but if it’s not something you’d send to your mom, you probably don’t want to send it,” Olanoff laughs, “I’d love for Brett Favre not to be guilty in his situation, but…”
It would seem that with the rise of Smart Phones (iPhone, Blackberry…), comes an interactive revolution. Though on many levels (dating in particular), there seems to be a massive disconnect. “If you’re constantly dropping ‘LOL’ and ‘OMG’, you’re not really putting your best foot forward,” Olanoff says. “However, texting is the quickest form of communication. It’s amazing; the iPhone learns over time – it starts auto-correcting me. Now? I can text faster. Also, the idea of, ‘unlimited texting’ is huge. You used to have to guard texts with your life – you’d get maybe 300 outgoing texts every billing cycle. I’m sure I sent at least 2,400 last month.”
It looks like text messaging is here to stay – and everyone is getting on board. “Match.com has enabled a feature where without giving out your phone number, you can exchange digits and have a text conversation,” Olanoff tells us.
Surely most men will disagree with this next statement, but the majority of women don’t ask for a whole lot when it comes to texting appropriately (or hell, inappropriately). The lesson in all of this? Respond, laugh at our often-illogical text lingo, and sign off with a smiley face. Oh, and texting isn’t for everything. “Texting is great for short bits of conversation,” Olanoff states. “I have friends who send me paragraphs, and I’m like… No. If you can’t say it in two or three sentences, do it another way.” He adds, “If you have serious, heavy news, don’t text it. Don’t text and drive, and don’t quit your job through text! You’d be surprised - but it happens.”
Probably one of the most enlightening conversations we’ll have all year occurred while writing this article. Why? Everyone can relate. That, and Drew Olanoff is just a great resource on a topic that so many women tend to complain about when it comes to finding, “the one”.
“Textpert sounds really cool until I see it in writing,” Olanoff adds, “I’m not fourteen, I’m thirty years-old.” So, let us get this straight: dating, text messaging, flirting… Bottom line? He laughs, “I think men and women just do a lot of things differently.” * - You can follow Drew Olanoff on Twitter: @ThatDrew