Are We Dating? And other Confusions created by Texting.

My Curated List of Text Messages that Explain Why Everyone is So Confused


Last Friday night while sitting with my friends on a rug on the patio (I have yet to buy patio furniture) the topic of texting and dating arose in conversation. Mainly the discussion was about how confused everyone is about dating. What’s the difference between hanging out and dating? What about the difference between talking and dating? Dating and in a relationship? Are we ending? Are we beginning? And many other questions that seemed to have no clear answers. And then we wondered were our confusions a result of the grand invention of the Inexpensive Text Message?

To test this hypothesis, I talked to [the large sample size of] two other friends about the topic after the devastating US Portugal match. Not ready to end our Sunday night, it was an exercise of cathartic release. And the theory seemed to ring true. The stories were plenty.

In order to shed light on this scientific discovery using clarifying evidence, I’ve compiled a list of dating confusions created by texting for your pleasure.

1. The Wait We’re Still Dating? Text You know this one, you haven’t heard from the girl you hung out with a couple of times, the one you were texting pretty regularly (at least 3 times a day). It’s been like a week and a half. And then sitting on the train at the Metro Center stop, the can-you-hear-me-now bars on your phone come on. You have service. Before the doors close, a text pops up:

“Hey wanna go to the Nats game tonight?” Doors close and the train rides on and you are wondering the WTF? This is like we just talked an hour ago, not a week and a half ago. But because you don’t have anything to do that night, and you, like her, like everyone else, is utterly confused and therefore defaulting on “cool” mode, say:

“Sure. Where should we meet?” When really you are like “Hey freak where the hell have you been?” You go home, shower, get back on the train, go to your meeting place and the next text pops up:

“Hey running 20 minutes late.” To which you want to reply “This was your activity I’m just an innocent bystander! Why am I waiting on you?” but instead you reply

“Okay I’m gonna get a drink.” Leading to the next Text of concern.

2. The I would’ve been there on time if we only had landlines Text Pretty self-explanatory, but essentially text messaging has made it where no plans are ever actual certain. In the past, if someone didn’t show up, there was fear of death, flat tire, or other extreme possibilities which forced upon everyone a level of responsibility to show up on time or give ample notice. Now, there is a good 45-minute window added to all meeting times thanks to text. It doesn’t really matter how you are going to entertain yourself in that 45 minutes, but you’ve been informed that the other party will eventually arrive and is not dead, which is apparently is sufficient excuse. Which leads to the next Text.

3. The Let’s Text Tomorrow to Figure It Out Text otherwise known as The We Likely Won’t Be Meeting Up Tomorrow Text. You know the conversation, the guy you like is finally moving from a fully text based relationship to an actual face-to-face situation. You are excited. And then you ask,

“So when/where do you want to meet up.” He responds that you two will figure it out over text the next day. You realize that this relationship is staying right where it is, in the Textosphere.

4. The I Act Like I Am Planning Something With You But Am Actually Just Seeing What My Options For Leisure Are otherwise known as The Sike! Text. This is one of my personal favorites. You know it. You are on travel somewhere, let’s say Istanbul. And the guy you met on Hinge sends you an iMessage when you happen to be on WiFi.

“Hey when are you getting back?”

“Friday.”

“What time?” (You are wondering, is he going to pick me up from the airport??? knowing that short of visiting your parents, airport pickups are the highest signaling of commitment from an American male, and/or a demonstration of his coming to terms with his mortality.) So you tell him. And then on said date and time your plane lands and you text.

“Hey I’m here.”

“Cool. Welcome Back!”

“What are you up to today?” I.e. Are you outside with flowers? To which he replies

“Hanging out with friends, probably gonna go to a bar soon.”

Aww yes, he was just wondering what his options were at said time and date.

5. The Fast-Forward To The Boring Part Of The Relationship Texts. Also known as Logistical or Marriage Texting. This one goes like this. You haven’t hung out with the guy ever, because you met online, and you’ve already gotten to the “Just got home from the gym.” Part of the relationship.

“Yea I’m making dinner.”

“What are you making? I’m gonna watch House of Cards and go to bed.”

“Salad and salmon. Alright ttyl.”

“Morning, man that was a good sleep.”

“Cool. On the way to work.”

“That’s early! Yea heard red line is a problem this morning.”

“Yup take a bus if you can.”

“Cool. Thanks will do. What are you doing after work today?”

“Not sure probably go get a drink with friends.”

“Cool. Okay have a good morning talk later.”

Shoot me.

6. The Cross-generational GenX + GenY texting. Also known as Use of Emoticon Differential. Or Emoticonfusion. The younger generation, the one right after ours, communicates with those 500 smiley faces that come on your iPhone. The other day, in response to something outrageous I texted, a guy from this generation sent me a smiley with what looked like a very cold forehead, a sort of brainfreeze. I had no idea what he was communicating to me. Did he like my come on, did it freeze his forehead like ice cream? He said that the face was in shock. I would’ve never gotten that. And we certainly lost any subtlety in communication he was attempting. And now we are still confused.

7. The I Have No Idea What You Are Feeling Because You Are Always LOL Texting. This is a killer.

“Whats up lol”

“Nothing escaping meeting by imagining World Cup players as smurfs”

“Yea I’m bored out of my mind too. Lol”

“Want to get a drink after work?”

“Lol that’s a possibility”

You get it. How is it possible that everything involves laughing out loud?

8. The “Hm” Text. It goes like this.

“Hey there’s two tickets for 300 bucks round trip to the Virgin Islands. I have to buy within the next 15 minutes. Can you do that weekend we talked about?”

“Hm.”

Did we just break up? I mean, that is, if we were going out?

9. The I Was Writing Something Long and Thoughtful and You Knew It Because You Could See The Three Dots For a Long Time But Then I Deleted It Just Sent The “Yup.” Text. The three dots shown while someone is drafting a message in iMessage are quite possibly the most important source of eternal hope and ultimate let down in our daily lives. You know it, when you are in the middle of a conversation you probably should be having face-to-face but are having on text instead, about the other party’s relationship with his father, or about how much you pissed him off the other day when you ignored all his friends while you were too focused on mastering ping pong. The dots are there, he’s writing something vulnerable, deep, true, honest, something. It’s long. You wait. Put the phone down. Pick it up. Dots still there. You put it down. Pick it up. The dots stop. No dots. Nothing. And then…wait for it…“Gotta run. Talk to you later.”

Doooooh. I hear Radiohead’s High and Dry somewhere in the distance.

10. The Hyper Extended Conversation Text. You write something. She responds 4 hours later. You wait 6 hours and respond. She waits 10 hours and responds. You wait 6 hours. Before you know it you’ve been talking about one thing for 6 days.

One friend mentioned how during the time of landlines, he actually had to talk to people’s parents before actually talking to the girl he was calling. I think that would equate to marriage today.