Textual relationships

Perhaps just a myth, but I’ve heard that guys used to call girls they liked to ask them out on a date.

Before instant messaging, you knew a guy was interested in a girl when he actually decided to pick up the phone and call her. He had to think of something to say, form coherent sentences and develop a loose game plan of somewhere to go.

Now, the anticipation of receiving a text message with the words “sup, whatcha doin” has replaced the anticipation of receiving a thoughtful phone call. I realize that new forms of media often change the way people interact with each other. However, there is something about this new form of initiating relationships that bothers me.

I find it confusing, inconsiderate, and generic. So much can be misconstrued by instant messaging, that it can drive you to the point of insanity.

The person you like sends you a message. Various thoughts go through your mind. Why did he wait two hours to respond to me? I know he has his phone on him! He’s either illiterate, trying to be cool, or just doesn’t care because he actually just sent me the message “wat u up 2 2nite, who u wit”?

Once, I was traumatized when a guy texted me back “coo” – as in “cool”. He couldn’t even give me an “l”. I wasn’t even worth properly spelling out a four-letter word. Needless to say, it didn’t work out.

Another time, my friend confessed to us that this guy she was dating would only respond to her using emoticons. We convinced her to stop talking to him because he’s probably emotionally unavailable and only able to express himself through :S.

Are these completely unsubstantiated, neurotic conclusions? Quite possibly. But it comes with the territory of instant messaging. You can’t really feel out of the tone of a conversation when it’s done through a keypad.

Another oddity of instant messaging is the ability to go through the motions of a “real” relationship via text. People can experience an array of emotions – sadness, disappointment, and excitement – without ever really interacting with the person outside of text messaging.

One time, my sister cried over a texting exchange with a guy I’m not sure she even knew outside of one party they met at during Orientation Week. I tried to comfort her but I couldn’t help but think how he could have hurt her so much with 250 characters.

These textual relationships are easy to spot. For instance, your major relationship milestones (i.e. saying ‘I love you’) has been done through instant messaging and the texting to seeing-each-other-in-person ratio is 20:1. You only get so far with such relationships. At one point, one person will want to take the next step and interact in reality.This will be a make or break moment. You must decide if you can tolerate this person without using the safety net of the “I didn’t get your text” excuse.

Text messaging has had a significant impact on relationships. It’s difficult to believe that once upon a time relationships developed and progressed without the use of instant messaging. Although I enjoy the convenience of texting – sending a quick message in class, cowardly avoiding someone – it bothers me that it is the predominant form of communication today.

Instant messaging leads to miscommunication and frustration, especially in the dating realm. So if you want to make plans or discuss something of greater importance than what time your next class is at, please pickup the phone.