In the past five years, the very initial stages of a relationship have changed drastically. People used to exchange numbers, then there might be an initial phone conversation or a short meet-up over drinks one night. In those conversations you would begin to asses the person at the other end of the line or across the table. You would listen to his/her vocal intonations, you would learn about his/her family, friends, job, hobbies. And then, if both parties were mutually interested, a relationship was struck up. Phone conversations, text messages and dates all fit into the equation.
But now, that initial stage is conducted by text message, Facebook chat and maybe an email or two. I have a friend who is the type of girl who has always wanted to be married and raise a family. She loves her own family and looks forward to the day when she gets her chance to create the same atmosphere that she grew up in. And dating today is hard, maybe harder than ever before, especially for a person with high ideals and very definite ideas of what she wants in a future spouse. But all of her relationships start with text messages – hours of them. There are no meet-ups, no phone calls. Just 140-character messages flying back and forth day and night.
To be honest, it drives me crazy. Based on these short, often ill-conceived messages she makes a judgment on whether she is interested in the guy. More often than not she isn’t interested because of some stupid text he sent along at some point in the two-week texting relationship. On the rare occasion that she does meet one of these people, he ends up coming off as nothing close to the person he appeared to be through text or a computer screen. She gets frustrated with the whole process and thinks dating is flawed.
But it’s not dating that is flawed here, it is the way it is happening now. A text message is great for a quick ‘What time are we meeting?’ message but it is not able to convey a sense of humor, it makes sarcasm sound like disdain and earnest interest appear casual.
A big part of why it doesn’t work, I think, is that humans crave one-on-one interaction. It can be great to have fast, instant communication but we want that face-to-face bonding that happens when you sit across the table from someone and see their facial expressions and hear their tone of voice.
I’ve encouraged this friend to swear off these texting relationships and jump into the fray immediately. When the texts start flying between her and some new guy, pick up the phone and plan to meet – that first week.
What do you think? Are their benefits to that period of texting at the start of a relationship? Or does it hinder more than help?