Don’t Text (Too Much).
I’m like a Grandma for three reasons: I drive really close to the steering wheel, I quilt and I hate texting.
I really hate texting.
On the outside, I look like a hip, fashionable forward-thinking woman of the future, but deep down I’m knitting you a beautiful scarf and secretly wanting to cook you your favorite dinner.
To me, texting represents the kids these days and their need to busy all the time.
Back in my day, we would have to sneak around to make a clandestine phone call, or instant message on AOL. I can still hear the eer-er-oo sounds of the internet dialup and my Pavlovian response to the gateway of instant flirtation. It was a great way to accelerate our bravery in the world of high school dating.
Now, texting has blown the roof off the pseudo connection that is part of our increasingly digitized lives.
We’re available all the time. The lightning-speed acceleration of a relationship in the one-dimensional mode of texting leaves much to be desired, and even less to the imagination.
After my first trip to India, high on life and lots of meditation, I ditched my iPhone and bought a dumb phone without texting. The menfolk hated it. There was no way to leave their scent and digitally mark their territory in 140 characters or less.
Even my students used to joke that my preferred mode of communication was carrier pigeon. Eventually, after being in a long-distance relationship for over a year, I finally acquiesced and got an iPhone again so that my boyfriend and I could Skype and use WhatsApp to keep connected while he lived abroad. I loved it because I loved him.
Now, back in this era of dating, I sit in my rocking chair in disbelief. Remember the former pro athlete I was dating? That ended before it could even begin when he texted me at midnight wanting to hang out right then and there. I was already in bed, PJs on and half-asleep. A mutual friend explained that he truly likes to hang out at that hour and it wasn’t intended as a booty-text, but the lack of common sense had me running in the other direction and I canceled our upcoming date.
I could go on and on with scenario after scenario of ill-fated texts that ended relationships that could have been saved in face-to-face communication, or even by talking over the phone. And, planning a date via text? C’mon, sonny. Pick up the phone and ask me out for shuffleboard like a gentleman.
Texting limits the amount of data we have to process. I want to hear your voice. I want to feel your nervousness and excitement.
And then, as we head further into the waters of an actual relationship, texting sets a strong precedent for mucking it up. A quick text saying “I’m sorry” doesn’t hold the same weight as holding a lover’s hands, looking into their eyes, and seeing the human behind the hurt.
The research backs this up: Anthropologist Ray Birdwhistell found that over 65 percent of communication is nonverbal. He also estimated that humans recognize the emotional tone of approximately 250,000 facial expressions. In another study from Brigham Young University (BYU), texting to express affection was found to improve a relationship, but using it as a way to make decisions or settle an argument was a one-way ticket to misunderstanding.
To add a little compassionate fuel to the fire, there are gender differences that help account for our different communication styles and preferences. Through Magnetic Resonance Imaging brain scans (MRI), researchers discovered that women activate between fourteen to sixteen areas of the brain that are used to evaluate human behavior and communicate, whereas a man uses only four to six.
So, I’m not saying let’s have a gab session on the phone for everything. But let’s be mindful of each other’s time, preferences and experiencing of the present.
Now, there are a few pluses to texting that I can admit to: Texting is a great, courteous way to say we’re running late, or to show our affection. I love those little “I’m thinking about you, boo” texts.
But, when it comes to getting to really know someone, texting is a disastrous communication tool. It’s rife for miscommunication, laziness and the kind of courage Mr. Pro Athlete would never have had over the phone, let alone in-person.
I crave connection. I’m far more interested in the interior landscape of things and what you’re learning about life and love rather than what you do. Who are you? What do you believe in? What were your turning points in life? What have you figured out that I haven’t and vice-versa. That’s what I want to know.
These are conversations that can’t be had via text message, and I have tried. It’s freaking exhausting.
So from here on out, I’m putting my high-maintenance, sassy-granny panties on and saying no more. Call me. Text me if you’re running late or want to say a quick little something-something, but call me if you want to have in-depth, two-way communication.
I spend enough of my day staring at a screen. And I want to be more present in the moment without the distracting ping-ping-ping of my phone ringing like a pinball machine.
In this era of dating where there are virtually no standards, we have to be willing to co-create our own. Dating shouldn’t be about marketing ourselves to the general population to get as much interest as possible, to become someone’s option like an episode of the Bachelor or Bachelorette.
It’s about mutual love, self-discovery, and taking responsibility for our preferences.
So speak up. Have an actual conversation.
It’s so much better than secretly resenting someone as you knit them an afghan blanket. Trust me.
Other articles in this series:
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Author: Kristi Kremers
Editor: Emily Bartran
Photo: Intel Free Press/Flickr