Monday, January 12, 2009

Technology as the New Post-It Note

Happy 2009 to everybody! It’s a new year and a brave new world. It remains to be seen what 2009 has in store for us all, but in my line of work I wait with bated breath to see what new technology is going to make New Yorkers' dating lives easier … and far more complicated.

People are now truly accessible 24/7 either by phone, email or text. Maybe you’re putting long hours in the office or vacationing in another hemisphere but there’s no more legitimately being MIA, because we all know you saw our email or text come in. (Add the happy face to know the comment is recipient friendly.) In this age of personal technology and instant gratification, in many ways it’s your choice of how and when to respond that carries the message. So what does all this technology mean for dating? It has opened a whole new can of worms.

For example, let’s start with text messaging. What does it mean if a guy actually calls to make the first contact after getting a girl’s number? What was taken as a given only a few years ago (i.e., a voice-to-voice communication) is now laden with meaning. Wow – he must be interested. OR, he is a gentleman. OR, he is from the “older” generation. OR, maybe he simply hates text messaging. But the act of calling is likely to be interpreted as saying something. Text messaging also says something. It has become the easy/lazy/”rejection-minimizing” way to make that first contact. Text messaging ensures you don’t look too interested – it’s casual. Like, “hey, I am going here … we should meet up. If you don’t, it’s ok. I don’t really like you that much. Well, I might, but I need to see if you like me first before I make that disclosure.” So in the end it just reads “hey, I am going to be at [x]. You should come by.” If there’s no reply, one wasn’t really rejected. It’s not like a phone call with a loud and clear “No, thanks” on the other end and the uncomfortable pause. It is a pause, but a pause that has the possibility of getting broken some day…

Emily Post would certainly have had a field day with this new age of technology-related behavior. Is it rude to booty text someone at 3am? I am guessing she would have answered with a resounding yes (regardless of whether the booty text is actually welcome). Is it rude and immature to break up with someone over a text (the more current version of Carrie Bradshaw’s being broken up with on a Post-It note)? I think we can all agree that Emily Post would have frowned upon this complete lack of etiquette. The same goes for canceling a date via a text (we’re not talking about impromptu plans here or plans with your buddies, but a true, certifiable “Date”) – it is simply bad form. Women and men – walk away from such a situation – you have learned all you need to know!

But what about some far more complicated questions that leave room for 21st Century uncertainty? Let’s start this maiden blog with one I have discussed with men and women alike and I have heard opinions from all over the spectrum: The Next Day “Thank You Text”. Here is the scenario. A guy has asked a girl out on a date. They have a lovely time and the man, having been the one to extend the invitation on this occasion, pays for the dinner. The woman thanks him graciously and sincerely, more than once, and the night ends.

Before texting and emailing I don’t believe too many men expected the woman to pick up the phone the next day and call. But now, with the age of fast and brief communication, there is an expectation among some men that the woman should send a thank you text (or email) the next day to say once more, thank you AGAIN. Is this simply a pure “thank you email” to the guy or really code to men who need reassurance saying “I really like you, now you don’t need to guess at all, I have completely tipped my hand and you can feel free to ask me out again. You are safe.” Is the failure to send such a text or email considered bad manners and a possible reason to not have a follow-up date? OR, if a guy really likes a girl, will he call/email/text/send a message via a carrier pigeon regardless of whether the woman sends a follow-up email (and they won’t hold the lack of a next day thank you email/text against her) because that is just what men do when they like a woman? The answer is yes, they will. The next day, most likely. Before you have even had a chance to send the next day thank you email/text. If he hasn’t, it’s not because you didn’t reach out to say thank you, again. As one author would say, it’s because he’s just not that into you. But that topic’s for another day … Men, feel free to weigh in on this (though keep it nice and clean, or you will be edited!). Women, chime in too – both sexes are part of the equation. Wow, this is going to be fun…


  1. Marni's comments about pre & post-date texting are right on. Unfortunate as it may be, the pre-texting era did the job of weeding out guys who don't have the cajones or couth to call for a date in the first place. It is a sorry state of affairs when a guy cannot ask a woman out on a first date by placing a phone call and actually speaking with her directly or leaving a voice message. How scared and/or lazy can you be? If you are SO petrified of rejection, maybe you are simply not ready to date. Remember, nothing ventured, nothing gained!

    As for the post-date text, of course it's a nice gesture from either side. Still - a real man makes the "mensch call." For those who are not mensches - that translates as calling the next day to tell the woman what a great time you had. Keep in mind - in the world of formal etiquette, it's the man who is congratulated for finding a 'real catch' not the woman.

  2. Oh such generalization in a specialized world! And isn't it predictable as the sexes become "equal" that women blame the men for not making the first contact? "Don't have the cajones or couth to call for a date in the first place." Youch! Go easy on the cajones, don't you know that they're sensitive? At the end of the day, I agree that men should ask the woman out, verbally, that is! But ladies, know that men enjoy a woman who is demurely, coquetishly forward. Aggressive femininity wins the day, and the guy! Without giving away too much, the woman who learns to be available, without being available, knows how to dangle a carrot, and opens the door to invitation with potential will ultimately get the carats!

  3. Ladies, sorry but I think you mean "cojones", "cajones" means drawers. Either way I think we are the ones that will need some. Good grief when did dating become so complicated?! While I agree that if he is into you he will call, there is nothing wrong with making the first move. I like the way "blubyu" puts it: "Aggressive femininity wins the day". Its worked for me many times.

  4. I'd like to see a reversal of this, in what does the guy do if he just isn't into the woman after the first date and wants to let her know politely but succinctly? In this case, texting seems insufficent, but emailing seems like a safe solid bet for both's not a break-up text, or a get-your-hopes-up callback, it's a simple "thanks for a nice time, but we're not a match" note to recognize the other person.

  5. Hi pricks1999 -

    You raise an excellent question on etiquette which I will definitely address in a future blog. Thanks for the comment!