The Problem with Texting

annoyed-woman-text.jpgOnce upon a time, there was dating without texting.

There was also that “talking on the phone attached to the kitchen wall” shit – a thorn in every horny teenager’s side. Everyone from that era was relieved to see phone cords disappear.

But texting? That’s a colossal beast I’ve not quite tamed, and as far as I’m concerned, it could disappear tomorrow and go die in whatever wasteland those phone cords are decomposing in.

Some days I enjoy it; but I’ve increasingly learned to hate it. I’ve managed to live out full-blown love affairs just on my phone. I can start, flirt, banter, mediate, resolve, relive, expound, expand, shut down and end relationships through typing (and receiving) words on my screen without ever meeting someone.

Perhaps the biggest issue with texting is that men and women communicate differently. Women often text in order to bond, and men simply text to communicate. Or to get sex. But that’s an underlying motive in 99% of what men do, so that doesn’t count.

But this much is true, at least for me: I would be better off 90% of the time if I would just put my phone down and walk away from the keyboard.

In fact, I’ve had a few recent texting scenarios that left me wanting to pitch my phone into the Pacific. Here: Have a glimpse of what goes on in the head of an otherwise smart woman when she’s faced with the back-and-forth volley of texting:

The Athletic Trainer. Jim was a former trainer for the SF Giants, a huge fitness buff, really smart and a big ol’ sweetheart. He’d lost his wife 18 months ago and had just started to dip his toes into the dating pool. Our texting conversation started nice enough, until it turned into phone calls, Facebook messages, more phone calls and voicemails, then more texts, calls, messages and STOP. It was too much too soon, so I shut it down before we even met.  I like attention, but not over-the-top. I think it’s true with both sexes: there’s an allure to being slightly unavailable. However, in hindsight, I should have been more understanding. This was Jim’s first stab at dating after losing his wife, and maybe he was just nervous? Or unsure how much interest to experess. Or just a really great communicator. What’s the harm in that? Either way, I ended it prematurely – via text – and I soon after regretted being a jerk. I likely lost an opportunity to meet a great guy.

The Amazing Catch. I wrote about him in my last post. This guy was a total package–smart, successful, funny, confident, fun, sexy. And best of all, available. As in, emotionally and physically available. As in, ready for a relationship. That made the commitment phobe in me freak out, but the ready-for-a-partner side of me feel all warm and fuzzy. And excited!

We had four amazing dates, and then I fully admit it: I got weird. But just in texts. Because what do you do when two sides of you are at opposition? You flip flop.

Me: I don’t think I’m ready for this.

Me: Wait – I’m sorry! I’m just a little afraid of getting attached. But I like you!

Me: I don’t know if the timing is right for this. Maybe we’re too busy and neither of us have time for this.

Me: I’ve enjoyed you so much! Just give me a little time to get used to this.

Me: Maybe we need to take a break . . . 

Me: I’m so sorry! I just have a few fears about relationships I need to deal with. 

This wasn’t a real texting conversation, but it might as well have been. I put the two of us on such a roller coaster that it’s amazing he didn’t puke on my shoes at the end and say, “Fuck this ride, I’m done.”

He did eventually stop communicating, though, after sending several texts letting me know how much he enjoyed our time together.

Him: You’re making this too hard. Life is too short for this.

And eventually we were done.

Clearly this fear is something I need to figure out – most likely stemming from my last relationship with The Narcissist. And I will. But this time, I let my trigger finger kill every good thing that was about to happen. Not in person, of course.

It happened all. over. texts.


Today, I’m chatting with a few men who seem to have some potential . . . one is a gorgeous Italian who moved here from Milan six years ago. He’s an engineer on an oil rig, and I probably won’t meet him for about a month – he’s stuck on a rig somewhere in the Santa Barbara channel. He’s a little over the top with his flattery, a little too melodramatic at times, and he gets impatient when I don’t respond quickly enough.

But you know what? It’s only texts. And I won’t shut this down till I see what he’s like in real life.

Another man is a lifelong entrepreneur, super smart, very busy and inconsistent with his messages. He’ll easily go three or four days without a word, then pop in to say hi as if we’d just chatted yesterday. He seems interested one day, completely disappears for the next two or three, then shows up again to say, “I can’t wait to meet you!” It feels like mixed messages.

But you know what? It’s only texts. And I won’t shut this down till I see what he’s like in real life.

I’m learning, however slowly, that texting is exactly what you make of it. It can be the driving force in your relationships, or it can just be words on a screen. It can symbolize a person’s interest in you, or it can be lighthearted banter. It can be used for good, or it can be used for evil. Like a superpower.

Except it’s not. It’s really just (say it with me) “words on a screen.”

If I’m honest, I have to admit it’s played way too big of role in my relationships. Way too big.

Thankfully that’s changing. And moving forward, I am resolved to reserve judgment about the potential of a relationship based on our face-to-face interaction, not on what’s happening on our screens. And I will deal with unresolved issues with spoken words, not written ones. Especially not ones I type into a little blue orb on my iPhone.

If I fail, well, the Pacific will get one more iPhone. And I will resort back to talking on a phone attached to my kitchen wall. Assuming I can still find a phone cord.




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