Another texting and dating question
December 15, 2016 10:56 PM   Subscribe

Argh! Communication in dating is hard ... is technology the culprit? Or just lack of enthusiasm ...?

- Met a guy on a dating website a couple of weeks ago, we went out. It was pleasant and we stayed out late talking . . . guy sent a nice/enthusiastic sounding text right after to say that they had a good time and thought that we had a lot in common. I texted back immediately and said, me too and made offhand reference to an idea for a second date.
- A couple of days later, guy texts to set up date though the tone of the text doesn't strike me as that enthusiastic. I text back and ask for their opinion on some logistics for the date.
- Two days later they still haven't responded so I send them a friendly, "Hey, have any further thoughts?" message.
- Guy responds, we arrange the second date.
- Second date goes well enough, stay out late talking though no kiss at the end.
- I hear nothing more for a few days so text to see how things are going - he had a busy week and we have friendly back and forth for a bit but the other person stops responding not long after I ask if they want to hang out again. Last message I got from them was asking me how my week was (kind of seem to have sent that at the same moment that I texted them to ask if they want to hang out). I respond that things are going well - then, radio silence on their end.

I am getting to the end of the efforts I feel like I want to make on this, but I'm also wondering if a text was not missed at one or more points, as I've had some issues with that on my phone lately/in general. Just the other week confirmed that I did miss a text from someone else I was planning a date with (who was a very consistent texter). I think I'm interested in this person (though I'd be more interested if they texted back consistently ...), and it's making me kind of anxious, more so than I've been in a while. Maybe I'm just feeling anxious in general lately.

What to do? One more text? Some other mode of conversation? Wait it out/forget him (in that case, tips for feeling slightly less anxious?)? I think I've evolved into a true millennial in that I have a major fear of an actual telephone conversation ... if I do text them again or send them another message should I ask if they got my last text? Or just follow up on the question about hanging out?

I know, I'm over-analyzing everything.
posted by knownfossils to Human Relations (23 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Another texting and dating question

Using text for any communication more emotionally significant than a request to pick up some shopping on the way home is an error. I understand and accept that this point of view is increasingly unfashionable. It remains correct.

Communication in dating is hard ... is technology the culprit?


F2F or GTFO.
posted by flabdablet at 11:02 PM on December 15, 2016 [11 favorites]

If I had really good vibes, problems with my phone, and a hankering to know for sure, I would go back to the app to send a final message with a specific invite, like "Hi, I'm going to see FILM RELEVANT TO THEIR INTERESTS on Friday, would you like to come?" You might get an enthusiastic yes or a "busy Friday but how about Saturday" suggestion, which is great! But if you get a "busy" without another time suggestion or no response, it'll be clear they're not interested.

To reduce future dating anxiety I'd also check my carrier and then get myself a new or new-to-me phone that doesn't miss texts. I'm normally into making technology last as long as possible, but dating is anxiety-prone enough without having to worry if you've missed texts.
posted by trotzdem_kunst at 11:43 PM on December 15, 2016 [7 favorites]

he had a busy week

Oh, bullshit. Too busy to text "hey I'm busy right now but I'd love to do X on $NIGHT"? No one's that busy, or at least no-one who's actually ready to be in a relationship. I get it, I am also incredibly willing to make excuses for people's nonsense, but if I'm super into someone, which is what you want, I will make time to talk to them.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 12:42 AM on December 16, 2016 [29 favorites]

I think the first suggestion is good, but-- honestly-- whenever I worry I have been missing calls or texts, it has never actually been the case that I have missed calls and texts. If he wanted to reach you , he would have.
posted by frumiousb at 12:46 AM on December 16, 2016 [13 favorites]

You like him. Call him one (1) time. Offer him one (1) specific date plan. If the call ends and you two have not made a specific date plan, then he is not interested.

The risk here is that he will be openly rejecting (unlikely) or awkwardly let you know of his lack of interest more indirectly. That will be unpleasant. Having done it once, you will be better positioned in the future to know if you prefer the uncertainty of the maybe-missed-text or the certainty of the call. But you're not going to lose anything in the relationship itself, since if he is interested and you preemptively dump him that will be the end of the relationship as well, and if he's not, you won't have behaved inappropriately based on the information you had.
posted by praemunire at 1:09 AM on December 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

Texting in new relationships/dating does seem to lead to anxiety and possibly "out of sight, out of mind" in a way that actual phone calls don't, I've been noticing lately. That isn't to say that I necessarily think that's the problem here, but you yourself even said I'd be more interested if they texted back consistently ....

I dunno. I feel like people 'play games' with regards to when they text back, how often they text, how much information they share over text, and all that. I don't think communicating your level of interest really works via text messages - it seems impossible to gauge that sort of thing with that limited amount of information. It's possible you both think the other person isn't interested, where that may or may not be the case.

I think the 'face to face' (or at least a phone call) and 'stick to concrete plan-making via text if you must text' ideas above are really good suggestions.
posted by destructive cactus at 1:13 AM on December 16, 2016 [3 favorites]

I agree that it's not worth the emotional energy to try to read "tone" in text messages and interpret the frequency of texting. That said, if the other person isn't responding to direct questions about when/if you're going to get together again at all over text it does seem like he's just not that into you. I Nth the advice to follow up with him to suggest one specific date plan.
posted by AndrewInDC at 3:50 AM on December 16, 2016 [8 favorites]

Oh, he's been very clear. I'm 99% sure he's merely on the fence about you, at best.

Younger me would have called or texted again. Older me would know better. Stop pursuing him and move on is my advice. Like yourself more than he seems to, send yourself the message you are worth 100% enthusiasm. This situation doesn't have that characteristic. You know what to do.
posted by jbenben at 4:01 AM on December 16, 2016 [16 favorites]

I respond that things are going well - then, radio silence on their end.

Previous relevant comment of mine about being terrible at communication in a dating context.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 4:17 AM on December 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

though the tone of the text doesn't strike me as that enthusiastic

There is no tone in a text message that you, the reader, don't put there. If there were emoticons involved then... maybe.

flabdablet and praemunire gave good advice.

He might be on the fence, he might just suck at text messages. Call once and see if he's interested. Don't waste time guessing what texts mean.
posted by Awfki at 4:54 AM on December 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

I feel like if he didn't kiss you after the second date, he's probably not feeling it. I wouldn't chase it.
posted by corb at 5:46 AM on December 16, 2016 [6 favorites]

If you actually want to spend time with someone, your communication should contain concrete plans. If you actually want to spend time with someone, don't send open ended questions like "when do you want to hang out." If you actually want to spend time with someone, send messages like "would you like to get dinner with me at 7 on Friday? I know a really good Thai place."

This goes for pretty much all social situations, not just dating. It's not texting that's at fault, it's that people are generally awful at being direct. Concrete plans or GTFO.

And when you're an adult, for the most part, anything other than concrete plans is the dating equivalent of running into an acquaintance on the train and saying "we should totally get lunch sometime."

People are often cagey and avoid being direct in dating because you risk rejection by putting yourself out there in such unequivocal terms, but life gets so much easier when you just accept that that happens sometimes. No one ever died from a bruised ego.
posted by phunniemee at 6:27 AM on December 16, 2016 [10 favorites]

One one hand, if he's using his phone to communicate with you by text only, it strikes me as being very immature. If he's really into you, he's going to do all he can to reach out to you and make those plans happen. That's way it works in a mature, adult relationship.

On the other hand, maybe he does have a completely forgivable/understandable type of anxiety that makes him wiggy about calling you or solidifying plans, and that's completely fine. However, is that the kind of relationship you want to be in?

Don't read too much into what he is/isn't saying in those texts.

Follow your own gut. In the event that you do decide to walk away, just keep yourself constructively busy, and look forward to moving one step closer to the right partner. Hang in there!
posted by Mistress of the Bunnies at 7:31 AM on December 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

Busy-ness is not an excuse; even if he's been out fighting wildfires and won't get back to town until next year, if he's into you, he will make sure to say "But I'm free on Wednesday, Jan 4th, if you want to grab dinner then."

Being vaguely "busy" and ghosting on texts is something I used to do when I was a Dating Jerk, hedging my bets and juggling more than one person. Making nice chit-chat made me feel less guilty about the fact that I was ignoring their direct question. I think if you're okay being his second choice, and seeing him intermittently, that this can continue. But if you're looking for a relationship, it'd probably be better to make one last attempt, then drop it and find other people to hang out with.

And who knows--it could be that he's going through some crisis that's too much to talk about with someone he barely knows, and it could be that he's thinking about you but for whatever reason isn't doing anything about it. Who knows? Not your problem.
posted by witchen at 7:40 AM on December 16, 2016 [2 favorites]

Drop him, he's not interested enough, he should be talking to you about things you'd both like to do on future dates imo, and I am currently dating a legitimately busy guy, and he has never dropped off communication despite that, if you want someone who is giving as much as you this one is not it.

Consider using WhatsApp for communicating instead of text if you're worried about texts going missing.

Source: a lot of online dating experience.
posted by lafemma at 9:28 AM on December 16, 2016

Hm, ya know what, I think I am convinced by the "if he was that into you he'd figure out how to get in contact" concept. Truth be told, when I've felt this level of anxiety before it often means that the person is on the fence ... the last person I was dating where there was actually a missed text, I think it was clear from all other interactions that he was really into me.

Just tired of this whole rigmarole, sigh ...
posted by knownfossils at 9:46 AM on December 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

Agree. Sorry. My phone used to miss texts and I wondered about this. If he wanted to be in touch he would be. And the "I'm busy" stuff sounds like he's not into it.
posted by ramenopres at 10:20 AM on December 16, 2016

Just tired of this whole rigmarole, sigh ...

It is exhausting. But it doesn't last forever. There is very likely someone in your future who will communicate clearly and often and it will feel like the best breath of fresh air.
posted by witchen at 10:24 AM on December 16, 2016 [5 favorites]

Something people have said to me that's helpful is: even if this person is into you, this is how they communicate. Will that style/amount of communication work for you in a relationship?
posted by needs more cowbell at 10:27 AM on December 16, 2016 [8 favorites]

Invite him over for dinner. Cook him a nice meal.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:03 AM on December 16, 2016

Hi, old fart here. People telling you that texting is a bullshit way of communicating are also old farts. You don't need to listen to them my dear snake person. You do you, etc.

What do you have to lose by sending one last message that is, "hey I would be interested in seeing you again. let me know if you'd like to join me next Tuesday for X". Your pride? Totally ok to be burned out on internet dating and need a break from it but if you're going to approach dating in a way that minimizes your emotional risk, why even bother.

Be bold and be ok with rejection. Being passive is going to get you even less.

Brief story time, several years ago I had an ok internet date and planned on fading away. She drunk dialed me a week later and demanded to know why I hadn't called and what the F was my problem. Suddenly in the medium grey blur of samey mediocre dates, emerged someone interesting. It led to a relationship over the next year and a half that sadly didn't work out, but was incredible while it lasted.
posted by danny the boy at 11:11 AM on December 16, 2016 [4 favorites]

To put it another way, could his side of the story be asking himself "where is her enthusiasm" and deciding there's not really anything there?
posted by danny the boy at 11:15 AM on December 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

whenever I worry I have been missing calls or texts, it has never actually been the case that I have missed calls and texts.

But that's not a given. Sometimes your text message really never gets delivered and you don't get any notification.

Earlier this year, I sent a text message to my then-girlfriend which she didn't seem to receive. To protect my ex-girlfriend's privacy, I won't say what we were really talking about, but it was as if I asked where we should go for dinner, and she wrote back about something completely different; I asked, "Oh, did you not see my text about dinner?" and she showed me a screenshot of the two messages that should have had the dinner question in between them but didn't. I double-checked my phone and saw that my dinner question was marked: "Message delivered."

She and I both used iPhones. I called Apple and Verizon, and they both said it happens sometimes that a text message is labeled "delivered" on the sender's phone but isn't actually received. I spent a long time trying to get to the bottom of it with both companies, neither of which was able to say exactly what had happened.

So, he might think he was the last person to send a text, and you stopped responding. I'm not saying that's likely in your case; there are other signs he's lost interest. But realize that text-message bugs really do happen sometimes.
posted by John Cohen at 5:49 PM on December 16, 2016

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