Scenes of a Textual Nature
ALEX MANSELL discusses the conundrum of texting the opposite sex
Ahh game-playing. A natural part of human existence from the beginning of time, associated with the pursuit of pleasure. So it’s funny how as we get older the notion takes on a dual-meaning, that playing games can be far from fun, and can actually bring a great deal of distress to our adult lives. This manifests itself in the form of texting, that oh-so-potent form of sexual politics.
Texts make me crave a time when if you did fancy someone the only way of getting in touch was by letter or in person, both of which require effort, both of which send a direct message: I like you, you’re worth it, let’s do this thing.
Instead, we have the misty haze of messages to decipher. And that, my friends, is an art-form. Who should even text first? Is it a case of the boy should be the hunter, never the hunted? Should it be the person who initially asked to exchange numbers? Or is it the case that in asking for the number swap they’ve already played the first move on the sexual chessboard of chat, and it’s the other person that should go for it? Is it a sign of weakness to text first, or a sign of strength?
When that pull from last night’s Klute sends a message saying “Hey, last night was crazy, don’t remember a thing!” how are we to take this? Is this saying ‘oh shit, I definitely got with you last night, I was definitely off my face, it was definitely a mistake, definitely don’t contact me’? Or is it just a casual way of opening conversation and making them seem cool because they got sooo drunk? And if they send a message without questions, do they expect a reply? If it’s just a “Hey, how are you?” are they just texting to be polite? Do you bother asking questions in return? Are they remotely interested? Do they want to see you again??
And don’t even get me started on x’s. If they put one you can read it as being standoffish; if they more put more than one it can be interpreted as keen. And if they put none it’s tempting to reciprocate with none to show you can be equally aloof, but there’s also that voice in your head telling you to respond with some to show you can rise above social conventions and aren’t into petty games. Then of course there’s the question of whether you should you start to add more as you get to know them, but this has the danger of signifying further commitment and therefore hints at being too keen.
And when the conversation ends, who leaves with the upper hand? The person who’s had the last word or the one that hasn’t had to reply to the final text?
As if the content of texts didn’t present enough obstacles to interpretation, we also have to deal with the whole issue of timings. It’s pretty much in the LAD rulebook not to text a girl straightaway, to make her wait hours before replying and to stay damn cool about the whole matter. Girls too are taught to remain mysterious, to take their time and be the chased, never the chaser. And thus begins the ultimate game of mindfuckery.
Sometimes I think ‘whatever, I’m not playing the game’ and will just reply to a text when I receive it. However, if someone sends a message and two minutes later their phone buzzes with an instant reply it entails a number of downsides for the sender.
One, you look like you don’t have an active social life, that any form of human contact is greeted with joy and instantly receives a reply. Obviously this isn’t necessarily the case; you could be in the middle of something fun and cool and exciting and still have your phone on you, but it just comes across that you have nothing more interesting in your life than the promise of social interaction.
Two, you look horrendously keen, like you’ve been sat clutching your phone, waiting for that coveted message, ever since you and the love interest parted ways.
Three, you most likely expect as swift a reply in return and can only sit nervous and disappointed, jumping every time something resembling your phone beeps.
As sexual etiquette generally dictates that you should always play it cool, remaining ever the enigmatic lover, you really have no choice but to wait before replying. But by waiting you’re engaging in that very game which causes you so much grief.
So we reach a conundrum. What I’m basically saying is you shouldn’t text too early, in the name of conserving interest and remaining the flame and not the moth, but you shouldn’t text too late because in reality it is stupid to get embroiled in such inanity. There is no middle ground. We can’t win. I could be sentimental and optimistic and say “ahh forget the rules, do what you want, follow your heart”.
But that would be foolish. Texting is no simple matter. We will always be players. There will always be a game. Just make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into before you pass go – and always play to win.