It’s been an unusual week in terms of dating. I’ve been in NYC for much of it – and since I don’t understand Tinder, and I don’t do one night stands, anyway – not much has happened on the romantic playing field. I’ve pretty much checked out of OKCupid (sorry, Julie), and, as if OKCupid knows (and takes it personally), it seems to have pretty much checked out of me. This can’t possibly be true, but based on OKCupid, the lesbian scene in LA is small and boring. And other than the occasional man who still writes me (for reasons that confuse me), little action translates to no action.
What I have been acutely aware of, however, during this last week, is the utter primacy of texting in the world of romance. Hell, in the world of everything, but let’s stay focused for the sake of brevity.
One of my close friends, with whom I had the utter pleasure of spending quality time during my visit, decided to refer to me as Digital Dahlia, because, yes, I’m addicted to my phone. But I’m not surfing the web. I detest when people send me links to videos I must watch (I really do mean to watch them later, I swear, I just forget before later arrives). Even Facebook, when I’m on the run, gets neglected.
But texting? Aw man, I love it so.
One of my best friends lives in Baltimore. We talk on the phone occasionally, but, in this day and age, who has time for that? When there are serious issues afoot, then, sure, we aren’t afraid to pick up the phone. But for the mundane, the ordinary, the immediate – texting was made for that.
For many people, iPhones and iPods may serve their purpose by putting countless musical tracks in your pocket. For me, I love having Julie in my pocket. I love the immediacy of being able to share anything. A random exchange with a stranger? A quick photo of a snowfall? A touching email from a paramour? Shared. Instantly.
And don’t get all preachy that we’ve lost the ability to be alone – because I am totally capable of being alone (perhaps more than most people). But I also adore knowing that Julie is there, in my pocket, even when I’m alone. Whenever I have a comment or a question or an anecdote or a reaction.
So what about romance?
Well, texting is great for that, too.
But before I get all swept up in my “In Praise of Texting” moment, let me clarify two things.
1. This is not a post about sexting. That’s an entirely other animal, and you can read about that over here.
2. This is not about how texting has ruined dating. Because, yes, in many ways it has. But to moan and groan about that is about as productive as complaining about the death of the LP. Or the CD. Or the album format. (Does anyone complain about the death of the cassette?) Technology evolves, and it will leave you in its wake if you refuse to play along. So yes, while it sucks that people have lost the cojones to make a phone call, to ask you out in the old fashioned way, texting has its charms and its convenience, and it is what exists now, so we might as well accept it and move on.
But where texting is delightful is with its ability to facilitate contact, even amongst new friends or new paramours. It permits the sharing of information, personal anecdotes, snapshots, even flirtations – all without appearing too invasive, too forward, the way a phone call might. Texting slips in the back door without you even realizing it showed up. It doesn’t park itself on your couch or trek dirt across your clean kitchen floor. It merely pops up, in the corners, on the fringes, discreet, patient, ready for you when you are ready for it.
There’s an art to texting, as anyone who does it with any kind of frequency knows. Some people compose long texts (akin to emails) – with carefully composed paragraphs – before hitting send. I will do that on occasion, but most of the time, I don’t get the point. Texting encourages an ADD moment, it is a medium based on immediacy, so why not indulge?
So my texts are usually short. Back and forth. If I’m there, if I’m paying attention, my responses are immediate. Quick. I’ve been accused of being too quick by some who favor a more deliberate pacing, but what can I say? I like to write. I like to sling words back and forth. I like to do everything fast, especially communication. Especially flirtation.
Ah, and this is where texting can get really, really good. Again, I’m not talking about sexting. That’s another category. But the flirty text? That line or two of text that makes you melt, that gets you all weak in the knees, that leaves you hungry as you watch the little bubble indicating something else is coming? Aw man, those texts are addictive. Those texts are the best.
Which is why it can be frustrating if you’re trying to engage with someone who is not a textual flirter. Some people just aren’t. Some people aren’t fans of the word-slinging. Some people are too reserved to know how to engage even when they want to. And some people think texting should be strictly professional.
Ugh, those people.
But for the rest of us, few things are better. Well, other than actual kissing. But if you can’t, if logistics prohibit physical contact, then bring on the text. Because when it’s good, it’s so very, very good. And when it’s not? Then I just write to Julie.