Ask Dave-How can he get him to focus?
One man is constantly annoyed by his date’s need to phone-fidget. How can he get him to focus?
I am a 34-year-old gay man dating a guy who seems addicted to text messaging. Granted, my new guy is younger than I am, but am I supposed to accept his constant fidgeting with his phone while we’re at dinner or a party? I know lots of people do it, but it just seems rude to me. We’ve been dating four months and I like everything about him but this. And he doesn’t text only to his friends, either — he also likes to communicate with me via text.
Sometimes he’ll bring up touchy subjects that way, and we end up having disjointed text conversations that drag on for hours. Other times, he changes or cancels plans, and the text message seems like a cold way to let me know. It’s frustrating. I have told him I don’t like text messaging, but he acts like it’s no big deal. He says everyone does it. What’s the deal with dating and text messaging? Am I being unreasonable?
|We end up having disjointed text conversations that drag on for hours.|
—Tired of Endless Texts
We are supposed to manage technology; it’s not supposed to manage us. But it seems like not everyone has gotten the message about this.
Text messaging offers expedience and ease, but it also presents challenges for anyone who misses the waning art of actually speaking to your date. Given the loaded emotions inherent to dating, text-message challenges are exacerbated in a new relationship.
Text messages are like other forms of impersonal communication. At least with email you can more fully express yourself with more than emoticons, acronyms and a few (probably misspelled) words. But with both texts and email messages, you can’t sense irony, tone, humor or any other communication essentials. The BlackBerry, Treo and iPhone look sleek and smart, but it’s amazing how many dumb, modern-day applications they’ve spawned.
Sure, text messaging has helpful uses: “What time does the party start?” or “I’m 15 min. late.” For many, it’s a fun way to flirt, and if your flirting leads to a hookup or a follow up, it can be a better, shorter and therefore safer communication tool than a lengthy email or drunk dialing.
But is dating these days diminished by the U R A SLV 2 TXT phenomenon? According to dating coach David Wygant, “For those of you who use text messaging as a form of communication with someone you’re dating, text messaging is the most abused and misinterpreted form of communication out there.”
Yes, it’s true that some statistics indicate your date is not alone. Active daters are more likely to communicate via text message than married couples or those in long-term relationships, according to a study done by International Communications Research. Of the daters, 59 percent had sent a text message to their partner, but only 30 percent of married couples had done so. Overall, 33 percent had sent a text to their date or partner, up from 27 percent the prior year.
You might be happy to know that you are among the 6 percent who said that they do
judge their dates by their cell-phone etiquette.
|A sexy, flirty text is fun and adds a little spice to a long, hard workday.|
So, how can you get him to stop letting his fingers do the talking?
I think it’s time to set some ground rules. Have a face-to-face talk, and ask him to agree to the following:
There are two types of text messages—good and bad.
Start off by telling him that a sexy, flirty text is fun and adds a little spice to, for example, a long, hard workday. Let him know that you don’t want to throw the baby out with the bath water, but you do want to avoid texts that cause problems.
Texts are no way to convey bad news.
A boss once told me, “Never send an email with bad news.” She was right. Apply the same rule and proceed cautiously with text messaging. Don’t share harsh information, cancel a plan or be rude via a text message. If there’s a heated issue he wants to discuss, tell him you’d like to talk face-to-face or at least by telephone.
Nothing replaces in-person interaction.
Text messages, email and chatting online all have their place. But nothing carries the same impact as eye contact, hearing each other’s voices and actual, physical interaction. Experts say that 80 percent of all effective communication is nonverbal, so where does that leave text messaging?
Don’t expect a response to every text.
If he’s really dependent on text messaging and you aren’t, chances are you’re headed for some sort of missed connection. He’ll change the restaurant where you both had agreed to meet or pick another movie at the last minute and you’ll have no idea. Tell him that if he text messages you, he shouldn’t assume you got the message unless you text or call him back.
Finally, next time you’re at dinner or a party and you see him reach into his pocket for anything other than his wallet, smile and say sweetly, “Back away from the PDA. How about having a text-free night?”
Dave Singleton, an award-winning writer and columnist for Match.com since 2003, is the author of two books on dating and relationships. Send your dating questions and comments to him at email@example.com.