The beginnings of a 21st century relationship:
“Hey! What’s up?”
“Nothing much, you?”
“Not a lot! What are you doing today?”
“Probably going to take a nap and then go get some food.”
“Cool, what kind of food?”
I remember the days in high school when I would get a potential significant other’s number and I would excitedly await the extremely personal “Hey!” to pop up on my phone the next day. My heart would leap with glee as I saw his name on the screen.
Then I would promptly spend five to ten minutes waiting to respond (so I didn’t seem so eager, of course).
Texting has changed the way that our society (and younger generations) look at dating and relationships as a whole. It’s not sufficient anymore to go out on dates or meet up for coffee when we make free time free time. Nowadays, it is customary to go through a phase of “talking,” where the potential couple spends nearly every waking moment staring at a little white screen, waiting for a text, wrapped up in a world of emojis and abbreviated words.
I suppose I didn’t realize that until recently (like two days ago, recently) when I got angry because I saw too many inbox texts on my phone after a class. “I don’t have time for this,” I thought to myself.
The truth is, texting takes the personality out of communication. We may ask a lot of questions, or write novels of responses, but it’s just not the same as a real conversation. I don’t want to have your formulaic, premeditated responses; I want to hear what you have to say in person, organically. I want to see the way that your eyes light up when you talk about your passions, I want to see you crinkle your nose when I say something that offends you, I want to hear you, “LOL!”
One of my friends once said that he hated constant texting with his girlfriend because, “When we do meet up, we don’t have anything to talk about!”
It’s so true.
Texting is a great medium to send friends or family good news or funny points of interest as you go about your day. I frequently send pictures or screenshots of things that have caught my attention. I also enjoy getting texts that say “I thought of you today because I saw ___” or “I miss you, I hope things are well. Let’s talk on the phone soon!”
Sometimes texting is convenient in the case of long distance friends because we can catch up when we are too busy to allot a long period of time to talk on the phone. I LOVE getting texts that say “Hey! Let’s hang out!” (but don’t be offended if I say that I’m too busy this week). I don’t mind responding to quick questions or giving advice, but chances are, if you’re just going to say “Hey!” I won’t really want to respond.
I think part of the reason that I have been so disenchanted with dating culture lately is the constant buzzing of my cell phone.
When I ask my friend about the guy that she met at the bar two weeks ago and she says “It’s good, I really like him.” And then I go on to ask when they’ve seen each other and she says, “Well, only once, but we’ve been talking,” I roll my eyes.
We don’t need to constantly communicate with one another. We need moments of reflection and alone time when the phone is away and the texts don’t come in. We need time to look up when we’re walking at the beautiful fall leaves against the clear, blue sky.
It’s no secret that the success of marital relationships has decreased in recent decades, and I can’t help but think it’s from overstimulation. I get tired of people if I see them too often, and I can’t imagine that anyone in their right mind would want to constantly feel obligated to talk to one person.
Some might argue that it’s the process of “getting to know you” that inspires this incessant flow of conversation, but I think it’s quite the opposite. To me it seems superficial to offer the details of life over text. It takes a lot more courage to offer innermost thoughts and struggles in person. On that same token, it takes a lot more skill to be a great conversationalist in person than over the phone. Texting also allows us to put the other person on a pedestal. We inadvertently idealize who they are, only to be disappointed when the real thing doesn’t live up to our expectations.
To me, actions speak so much louder than words. So instead of shooting me that quick, “Hey,” to see if I’m interested, ask me out to coffee (hint, hint, I will probably say yes).
Life is too short to live on a phone, and interpersonal relationships are too precious to grow within the confines of texting conversations.
This has been a relatively new development in my mind, but I’m going to make a conscious effort to stop the texting and start speaking instead.
So go out, talk, converse, breathe, drink coffee, explore the world together, live.