My friend Monica recently hit it off with a guy at a party. They snuck off to a corner, chatting for hours about the things men and women chat about when they first connect. Monica and I finally caught up a few days later for the debriefing. Inquiring minds, especially those of a fellow single girlfriend, wanted to know. And I almost fell out of my chair when she told me that, after all that time and energy he gave her that night, he didn’t even ask for her number.
“Really? What’s with the mixed signals from guys? Is this what we’re working with?” I vented.
“And he had the nerve to send me a friend request on Facebook after the fact,” she shared, “so more mixed signals!”
I repeat, really?! Is that all there is? What’s become of meeting and greeting in our society? Has technology destroyed our ability to interact in a meaningful capacity?
Gone, it seems, are the days of hour-long first phone calls, declarations of feelings on looseleaf paper, and conversations that “define the relationship.” Now, we are forced to reckon with the oh-so-not romantic first email, tone-lacking text messages, and a relationship status determined by who first indicates ‘In a Relationship with…’ on their Facebook profile. Where’d good old-fashioned romance go? I mean, it’s kinda hard to woo me with only 140 characters, homie!
I’ve deduced that women get mixed signals from guys because we contribute to the confusing dynamic by accepting their behavior. Otherwise, what else would have made that, “man-child” (Monica’s term for a grown man that engages in childish behavior) think that friend requesting her, as opposed to asking their mutual friend for her number, was an okay entry point into her life? I shouldn’t be surprised I guess. In a recent text message conversation (I know, I contribute! Guilty as charged!) with my friend Allison, she described how she dated a guy for close to a year and probably talked to him on the phone twice. And I’m not exempt myself. I hang my head in shame at the fact that MySpace messages were a popular communication medium with me and Jason. They frequently trumped phone-on-phone action in our long-distance relationship.
That’s why when the last guy I met actually wanted to talk on the phone, I was nervous. I’d gotten so accustomed to the email/text/FB version of courtship that I questioned my own phone conversation skills. Back in the pre-social networking era, my skills were sharp. Honed over years of experience. Thankfully, getting back into the groove was just like riding a bike. It took a few minutes to steady my balance, but once I got the hang of it, it was like I never forgot how to be cute and flirty and witty with my words. Let’s hope this trend continues.
Maybe this all doesn’t sound worrisome to you now, but my paranoia strikes when I think about how even intimacy has become technologized. I mean, how are we ever going to get to mating if we barely figure out dating? And you know you can’t make no babies if all you have is ‘text sex.’ (Well maybe that isn’t such a bad thing for some of us.)
So, what’s next? Can we make our way back to connecting on an authentic level? Will men stop the games? Will women put their foot down when a man throws the dice? I’m a believer. Because just like those subway ads for Dentyne gum proclaim, “face time” is important. No typewritten “xoxo” can ever compare to the magic and sparks of the real thing. No love tweet, no matter how well crafted, can ever capture the same sentiment of those words when shared over a meal.
Written by KP