The texting debate – a rebuttle.

This article is in response to another blog, written by a friend of mine.

I’d always known about the debate regarding whether you call or text someone when it comes to the first date. Some people swear by the call. Others figure that these days everyone texts, go with that route.

I fall into the later category.

Before I get into the reasons why I prefer to text, I’ll mention the two prominent reasons people insist that calling is the best way to go.

The first is that by calling it shows a level of confidence. Women love confidence in a guy, and it takes a pair made of brass to sack up and dial that number (or at least that’s their thinking). If they’re willing to dial the number and speak on a person to person level it’s a sign of said confidence.

The second is an issue of tradition. Girls like being asked out by their potential date. It’s how it’s been done for ages, how their parents and their parents began their relationships. Guys ask girls, and they sure as shit better do it with sincerity. With their voices, goddammit.

Alright, I get both of those points. Sort of.

First, the the confidence thing. It’s a myth that it takes some massive level of confidence when calling a girl, or any more than it takes when sending a text. By the time a guy gets a girl’s number he’s already done the heavy lifting. He’s shown that he’s interested. She’s shown she’s willing to be bought dinner or a drink. There is virtually nothing to lose at this point; the guy is playing with house money. However, if this is a big thing with a girl and she refuses a date because I text instead of calling, I’m better off not going out with her in the first place. This might as well be the first filter: if she’s willing to cross me off the list because I didn’t dial her, her level of interest wasn’t high enough to begin with. By saying no she’s saved the both of us a lot of time.

Now, the idea of tradition: remember phone vs in-person? I remember having this same debate a dozen or so years ago. Do you call her? Or do you nut up and ask her in person? A decade later and I have to wonder if that even happens anymore. Now it’s understood that you get the number first, ask the girl out on a later date. So while it may seem as if the phone has been the way to go for the longest time, in reality it’s just taken the place of walking up to someone and asking them out on a date.

So why texting? Why is it such a better option? Many reasons.

First of all, it provides the proper amount of context to the evening. A drink with someone you barely know is tough to even consider a date; it’s more like the audition to having that first real date. It’s casual and free of pressure. A text represents it.

Second, a phone call has the chance to go bad on a number of levels. What if you’re not accurately judging someone based on their tone? What if they say they’re busy. Are they really busy or are they blowing you off. Have you ever given your number away because in the moment you didn’t want to turn someone down? I have. I have the suspicion that someone else has given me their number halfheartedly. Maybe they simply changed their mind about the date for any number of reasons. Now you’re on the phone with them, they don’t really care to go out and you’re sitting there wondering if you should really be making an attempt to get this date or if it’s better to just forget you know each other.

Most importantly, by texting you avoid situation in which you call and they don’t answer. This is the single biggest reason to text. I understand that (most) people aren’t using landlines anymore, and that if you own a cell phone you’re theoretically available 24/7. But we all know that isn’t the case. There are any number of reasons that you could dial someone and not get them. When I think of the times I’m truly reachable by phone call, it’s probably only a couple hours of my day. The rest of the time I’m at work, out of cell range, playing a sport, on my bike or have simply left my phone somewhere I’m not. Even when I’m around my phone I’m not answering it unless I know who exactly is calling.

So what happens when you dial someone up and they don’t answer? Do you leave a message and hope they call you back? Do you attempt to call again at a different time or a later date? What is the appropriate time to wait before attempting again? What if they see they have a missed call, they call you back but now you’re out biking, playing a sport, out of range, at work, in a bar, your phone is on vibrate, etc.

Phone tag is a fucking bitch over something that could so simply be avoided. Sending someone a text does two things: it gets your message across clearly AND it puts it on the other person to respond on their own time. Their response, if they do respond, may also be an accurate level of their interest. Is the answer vague? Do they give a wishy-washy response that leaves the prospect of a date open-ended? Do they even respond at all? One way or another, you know where you stand.

The only time I’d consider calling to set up a first date is when I know the person well and we’ve got a history together. If we’ve been friends, if we’ve hung out in the past, if we’re co-workers. By then we’ve gotten a rapport and we know each other well. If that’s the case, I wouldn’t send a text for something as potentially serious as trying to date a friend. A text is too ambiguous and if I’m taking a relationship to another level I want to be sure they know that’s what I’m doing.

But a first date with someone I barely know? There isn’t any rapport there. I don’t even know if I like them, much less want to seriously date them. The point is that it’s a casual time with someone, no need to make it anything more than it needs to be.

******

A scour of the internet brings up various opposing viewpoints. In her blog on the subject, my friend Eliza links to this Ask Men article:

Sure, we can make plans with our buddies or even avoid meetings with our coworkers, but when text messaging begins to dictate the finicky boundaries of love and lust, certain rules apply. A new sort of dialogue is beginning to emerge, so get it right before a text to her phone becomes a slap in the face.

The first date

She completes your sentences and you open up about your fear of flying. Things begin to spark, and your first night together is a success. If you were lucky enough to pass the first relationship test — the dreaded first date — then congratulations. Now, don’t mess it up.

This doesn’t help us with the idea of landing that first date, though. I’m not talking landing a second date. Personally, that’s something I’d like to accomplish in person, but if I did think I liked someone enough I wouldn’t have a problem calling.

I’m talking about asking someone out before there’s all that sentence finishing, sparks flying loveliness.

One debate on the subject I enjoyed reading came from Nerve.

Two twenty-somethings went back and forth on the subject, then the commentators took to the floor. In the end, 19 people (many of them women) were pro-texting to land that first date, 14 were against. This seems to be in line with what I’ve found from my friends. I asked six close friends, all of whom are currently in relationships. Five were adamant that texting is the best course of action. One, a guy, said he would call.

In the end, I think texting has no downside. To me, it’s all about setting an expectation and minimizing the opportunities for screw ups. There’s no phone tag. There isn’t the awkward silence or the chances of being taken by surprised. People can think about what they want to say instead of fumbling a conversation with someone you barely know. And, like I said, texting is its own potential relationship filter.

Yay technology.