I frequently talk about accidental text messages. But as long as it keeps happening, I will keep talking about it. Today's dilemma deals with those situations when you think you're getting texted accidentally but you're just not in on the joke.
Recently, a friend of mine went on a first date with a guy she had met through a friend. She had a great time and they parted ways on a high note -- he headed to a friend's party and she headed to grab some dinner before going home. Before she even got home, she got two messages from her date, sent back to back with the exact same time stamp:
"Hey, what are you doing tonight?"
"I just tried it and failed."
Taken by itself, the first text would be a clear accidental text. But wouldn't the guy realize his mistake and send a quick apology? The second message was more curious. What was he talking about? Their date? My friend was discouraged. She thought they had really hit it off. She deliberated for half an hour before sending back the message:
"I'm not sure if this was meant for me, but I'm curious about what you failed at."
Her date texted her immediately. Yes, the texts were definitely meant for her, he said, and -- here's the kicker -- he was referring to a joke he had made during the date about guys' awful pick-up lines. She had missed the reference, which is a common problem with text messages. All those subtleties just don't translate.
After some more texting back and forth, the crisis was averted and the two ended up going out again. Thankfully, my friend had decided to text him back although she was initially upset and confused. It's a good lesson to learn: don't sit there fuming: Confront the message sender. You don't have to do it in an abrasive way, but clear the air, at least for yourself. You never know when your assumptions might be incorrect.
It's a lesson for guys to learn, too. Text messaging is a very direct, literal and immediate form of communication. Don't try to be subtle or even sarcastic or joking via text, because you risk being misunderstood or worse -- offending. It may seem unnatural, but don't be afraid to pick up the phone and use it as... a phone.
This column was originally posted on Crushable.com.