Relationship alert! Just when you thought it was difficult enough in today’s world finding someone to hook up with, there’s an added element on the dating landscape throwing a damn monkey wrench into the whole “compatibility” conversation. Because aside from feeling the initial spark confirming that his hotness factor is gonna set your panties a’fire, besides finding out whether you have any common interests, and besides establishing that you and he rock each other’s worlds in the bedroom, there’s yet another thorny hurdle to cross. Do you and he have textual compatibility?
As Time writer Eliana Dockterman states in a recent article on “textual chemistry,” the complex emotional interactions between two people over text message can make or break a relationship. Yeah, you read that right. In other words, how you and he text one another is a very big deal.
Friends in my office, especially 20-something friends who’ve taken dating etiquette to a science, talk all the time about their prospective guy’s texting ability. Is he too fast to send messages or too slow? Are his texts too long or not long enough? How about his emoji use? Is it OK for guys to use them? Should they? Analysis of texting habits is as detailed as when gals of years ago used to talk about the kind of car a guy drove and what it said about him.
Of course, texting is today’s common form of communication. A 2015 poll by a research group found that 80% of Americans prefer texts over voice calls. And Americans spend an average of 26 minutes a day texting, according to the article. So how one communicates definitely makes a difference. Case in point: I have to fess up that I’m a frequent texter. Sometimes texting with friends is how I spend entire evenings. Well, OK. More than sometimes, actually. I do it a lot. And I admit that it can be annoying when friends are slow to respond. Or they finally respond but ignore what I wrote. By that same criteria, if a prospective date behaves textually badly, it spells trouble ahead because, as the Dockterman article points out, texting is a form of seduction.
My 20-something colleagues would certainly attest to this. Bad texters, they say, are reason enough to break off a relationship before it even gets started. Why bother? If he’s bad at texting, they say, he’s going to be bad at communicating in general.
I’m not sure I’m entirely down with that logic. What about if he’s a great communicator but texting doesn’t happen to be his preferred method. What if he’s one of those Neanderthal types who enjoys talking on the phone. Is that a relationship buster? It seems as if there must be an easier way of navigating the land mine-filled textual landscape. What are the rules, anyway?
According to Dockterman’s article, we all need to be mindful of how our personalities come across in texts. Women who make their text messages overly long, for example, might be viewed as too needy or chatty. Or desperate. But men aren’t easily let off the hook, either. Their personalities via texting are under the same scrutiny as in the days of yesteryear when they were trying to pick up women in a bar.
All in all, textual compatibility is just one measurement of whether a relationship is going to work. You still, after all, eventually have to meet in person. And sparks flying in the virtual world doesn’t necessarily equate to the same thing in person. The good news, however, is that if the in-person chemistry isn’t happening, you can easily break it off. Just send him a text.
What do you think? Do you set store by how well he texts? Will wooing in the virtual world lead to a wedding in the real one? Let us know in the comments. You can think of it as a text.