Don’t text me, bro

Texting shouldn’t supersede in-person interactions.

Bronwyn Miller

Last night, I spent five minutes deciding if I should use “ha” instead of “haha” in a text. At that moment, I realized that getting an unlimited texting plan likely ruined any chance I ever had at romantic success.

I’m not ashamed to admit that I engage in the number exchange at bar close from time to time. But when one person types the other person’s number in and the other responds, “text me so I have yours,” the interaction is doomed from the beginning.

You’ve been “text zoned.” I can already predict how this relationship will go. We’ll kick it off the next morning and text for a few days, starting with the generic, “Did you have a good time last night?” and escalating to some banter about the day’s responsibilities. At some point, I’ll get a “haha k,” take it as a “screw you,” delete his number, and we’ll never talk again.

He could have been my soulmate, but we’ll never know. This has become a pattern in my life: The in-person interaction is promising, but once we part ways, it goes sour. Either I’ll slip up with an awkward drunk text, or he’ll use “lol,” and I’ll decide we’re severely incompatible.

The answer is, of course, texting should be reserved for already established relationships, not those in the crucial initial stages. Texts are not what should be forming our first impressions. My sarcastic personality can’t be understood in 160 characters before it’s understood face-to-face. Texts fail at conveying tone, even with heavy emoticon usage.

The capability of constant contact is frightening — and perilous. We are expected, almost required, to be accessible at all times; we have learned to associate delay with disinterest. When I drop off in a texting conversation for a different reason, I feel the need to honestly justify my absence in order to ensure my intentions aren’t misconstrued: “Um, sorry, I got really engrossed in a ‘Walker, Texas Ranger’ marathon.” Judgment ensues.

The prospect of instant gratification is also dangerously tempting. Feeling down? Drunk and frisky? Validation is just a few jumbled sentences away. I sometimes miss the low level of intensity with which relationships were required to develop many years ago — when we would have to call someone at home and leave a voicemail if he or she was out. Plus, my landline couldn’t receive dick pics.

My biggest concern is what superfluous texting means for in-person communication, for the meaningful connections that we need and crave as social beings. When we’re talking to someone face-to-face, we don’t have 10 minutes to belabor a response. We’re able to figure out pretty quickly if we click with people when we actually spend time with them, but texting snafus can ensure that stage is never reached.

I’m not a technology Luddite. I think texting certainly has its place — but getting to know someone new is definitely not it. I’m sick of wasting time dissecting the meaning behind texts. Should I respond to “OK sounds good” or is that too needy? Does that wink face mean I’m just a booty call?

Call me old fashioned, but my communication with the opposite sex needs an upgrade. In dumbing down my exchanges to fit my thoughts and feelings within the confines of a text, I’m drastically oversimplifying myself. My text message game — or lack thereof — shouldn’t be what gets people interested in me.

Some people have a rule that requires a certain number of dates before they’ll sleep with someone. I’m one step away from instigating a calls-only policy until we’ve hung out three times.