Here's the Thing: Dial Down the Texts

Not everyone is going to be ready to dive into rapid fire conversations with you via text.

A SWEET ONLINE BOY:

I'm a single, late-twenties guy who's actively dating women. Recently, I've been thinking a lot about text etiquette during the short-but-crucial window of the first few dates (let's say dates Nos. 1-3). To set the parameters; I'm someone interested in a long-term relationship, and most of my dates come from dating apps. To me, the period of dates Nos. 1-3 is crucial in determining if/how the relationship proceeds. And constant, productive texting can really expedite things and make them much smoother! Whereas unreliable, slow texting can delay the process and cause lots of confusion.

I'm of the mindset that all of us are on our phones 24/7. I don't know a single person who's not checking their phone every 30-60 minutes (TOPS), especially when they're at work and bored af. We're far removed from the days where you don't see a text or can't respond for hours upon hours. And so especially when it comes to dating, I believe you should be able to respond to a text in a reasonable amount of time. And especially if you're trying to reciprocate interest in someone, it doesn't seem to make any sense to wait more than 5-6 hours to respond! 

So, what should we expect when it comes to texting? Say it's Sunday and I'm trying to plan a date for Thursday. I text my date Sunday night at 6pm with an idea, and she doesn't respond to confirm until Monday at 2pm. I'd understand if she waited that long to turn me down, but why wait so long to confirm?! Obviously there's a bit of gamesmanship involved in texting, but in today's day and age it's almost insulting to be a poor dating texter. Like I wrote earlier, we're all looking at our phones all the time! It shouldn't take half a day to decide if you want to hang out. Whether you do or don't want to see this person again, it seems like the least you can do is get back to them within a few hours. 

Am I being unreasonable?!? I do believe things are different for younger people or for people who are only hooking up, but for people like myself interested in finding a steady relationship, I'm having trouble coming to terms with waiting all day to get a text back. 

SOPHIA:

I don’t know if you’re being “unreasonable,” but you’re certainly being… either demanding or desperate, neither of which is the look you’re going for when it comes to putting your best foot forward, I presume.

Let’s take a step backward, because you mention two things that stand out:

  1. “unreliable, slow texting can delay the process and cause lots of confusion.”

  2. especially if you're trying to reciprocate interest in someone, it doesn't seem to make any sense to wait more than 5-6 hours to respond.”

It’s understandable that you missed this, but your answer is kind of right there. The people you’re texting with want to slow things down. They are showing you that repeatedly and you’re swatting it out of the air because it isn’t what you want.

While I think people should be honest about what they want, your singular focus on Getting in A Long Term Committed Relationship Right Fucking Now, It’s Been Two Dates, Ok?!? is probably a bit fast for most people. In general, I’ve found that my female friends move a whole lot slower when it comes to sex and dating than my male friends do. Often going slowly is because of the safety concerns around dating men, and to be perfectly transparent someone with the intensity level of “I want you to text me back within the hour after a few dates” is a safety red flag; that’s the type of behavior exhibited by a guy who thinks things are more serious than they really are, or gets possessive early on. I frequently use this metaphor with my friends, it’s weird but bear with me: think of dating women like you would trying to feed a deer*. You need to be still and patient and let the deer come to you. Instead, what I frequently see is men chasing after deer, throwing slabs of steak at them and shouting, “WHY WONT YOU EAT?? I’M TRYING TO FEED YOU.”

I know— I KNOW— that you’re just trying to not waste your own time, that you don’t want to fuck around, but you simply must have sympathy or empathy for the other people in the equation. As a note, I think it would do you wonders to not frame people who aren’t ready to dive head first into dating you for years as “a waste of time.” (My quotes not yours). They’re getting to know you, and you’re getting to know them, which is not a waste, ok? Not everyone is going to sit down at a table and know within 14 minutes of talk about where you grew up that This is The One. I understand the longing for long-term, committed love, I do. But your singular focus on that can come across poorly. It’s like saying, “I need a car, yeah I have some requirements and some features I’d love if I can get them, but ultimately I need to get around.” The alternative is, “I’m dating and if I meet someone who is wonderful, I’m in a good place to see where it goes.”

A lot of what you wrote above is about you; now of course, you’re the one writing in and it’s an advice column about yourself, but you’re giving off strong “I WANT IT THAT WAY” vibes, and not a lot of “willing to work with someone” else vibes. If someone doesn’t want to spend their work day crafting texts to a guy they’ve had one date with, that’s NORMAL. Talking to people and especially men and especially men you’re trying to date takes EFFORT, and these people do not owe you effort on your timeline. It’s not a slight; they just have lives. (Also, someone being on the fence about dating you is not an insult, ok?)

Relax. Take five deep breaths. Then take a few more. Take a walk around your office. Buy some pretzel m&ms (not because they will help you, but because they taste good). Allow yourself to see where things are going with new people; become genuinely curious (IN A CHILL WAY) about getting to know the people you date. You can still bow out if someone isn’t on the same page as you about what they want, but you do not need to race to the finish line or speed anything up. I have a feeling that when things are working with someone—really working—the texting will come naturally.

*Deer are majestic and powerful, but also need to earn trust. This isn’t about women being meek or anything; don’t make it a thing.