As a millennial, I understand the appeal of the text message. It’s easy, convenient, non-threatening, and can be ignored. I have texted guys to suggest a hang-out when I hadn’t heard from them in a while; I have received tweets, texts, and e-mails from men for last-minute “dates” that never seemed to work out the way they did in my head. I’ve had a texter vanish into thin air, leaving me (embarrassingly) devastated.
Many of the men and women I hear from feel wrecked by similar text-based relationships and confused when they end. Part of the problem is what I call “text goggles.”
Text goggles: A phenomenon in which texting impairs the judgment of an individual in a relationship and makes the other person with a character deficit, emotional instability, or lack of depth appear more attractive than they actually are.
Text Chemistry ≠ Real Connection
Roxanne Jones, founding editor of ESPN The Magazine and a former vice president at ESPN, noted in her CNN Article, “As a happily single woman, I am shocked at how many professional, attractive, and otherwise intelligent men have no idea how to communicate effectively by phone or face to face.”
Text chemistry can skew your judgment and make it easy to think something is there—maybe a future, a different romantic feeling, or possibly a spouse. But text chemistry doesn’t equal real-life connection.
Texting isn’t bad, and I’m not anti-technology. We just need to be careful because it doesn’t translate well into relationships. Here’s a cardinal rule about texting: Texting should always be leading to face-to-face interaction, not taking away from it.
New Dating Rules for the Texting Generation
My messy relational life before meeting my husband led to heartbreak and loads of confusion, but after sorting through the broken pieces I discovered that texting or being the “always-available” girl might have been part of the problem. Enough was enough, so I decided to experiment with dating differently, specifically in the areas of communication and sex. I really wanted to find Mr. Right, not just Mr. Tonight.
My dating rules were simple. I would not accept dates made over social media or texting, nor would I be waiting around for a last minute “out tonight?” or “come meet up with us?” text. Secondly, I didn’t think sex was casual like everyone said, and decided to wait until marriage to make sure the guy would actually be around in the morning.
My husband had similar thoughts about dating and took his romantic life equally as seriously. Safely on the other side of marriage, we started sharing our rather counter-cultural dating perspective and had millions respond with similar frustrations and a desire for more from love, sex, and dating. And we have heard many success stories just in time for our book, Real Men Don’t Text, to hit bookstores.
Texting Can Cloud Your Judgement
Here’s some reasons texting can produce clouded judgment:
1. Texting is easy. Easy isn’t bad. It just means you can’t—or shouldn’t—start planning your perfect summer wedding because your “text chemistry” is through the roof. The constant texting may simply mean the person on the other end is bored, likes the attention, is looking for a hookup, or enthralled just like you are with the chemistry.
2. Texting is not a real connection. While texting has dramatically changed the dating climate, text-based relationships can bring a false sense of intimacy—the same way following your favorite blogger or singer doesn’t mean you actually know them. It’s easy to feel exhilarated and even connected by a rapid-fire, flirty text banter, but text chemistry doesn’t hold weight off screen. Too many settle for this emotionally addictive buzz in lieu of a real connection.
3. Texting allows both you and him to be someone you’re not. The person on the other end of the message may not be who his/her texts suggest they are. You might be wearing text-goggles. But just like if you were under the influence of alcohol, you need to take off the text-goggles—spend some quality time communicating face-to-face—before you imagine you’ve met your soul mate.
4. Texting handicaps the communication necessary to build a healthy relationship. How does Mr./Mrs. Text handle conflict? Are they in the 58% that will cowardly break up with you over text? We’re losing basic communication skills—how to have healthy argument without name-calling, conflict resolution, or asking personal questions, because it’s easier to hide behind technology. It’s common to mask hurt feelings, deep emotions, and harsh words behind screens. Communication is the most important aspect of a relationship that withstands the test of time, and carrying out a majority of your relationship on screen means you are headed for dangerous waters.
Real communication takes courage. Telling a man or a woman you want to end a relationship over the phone or in person takes character. Putting yourself out there and not sending a mass text or a late-night one is what will make the men stand out among boys. Take a risk and find a lasting relationship without the goggles. You won’t be disappointed.
Photo credit: jhaymesisvip
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@Ruthie_Dean is a marketer, speaker, and the co-author with her husband of Real Men Don’t Text: A New Approach to Dating. Ruthie’s writing has appeared on Fox News, Christianity Today, Relevant, Prodigal Magazine, The Angelos, The Good Women Project, and other print and online publications.