The first time I ever received a text message was about five years ago. It was from a 30 year old guy who I'd met a couple hours earlier at a get together of a mutual friend.
He walked me to my car and asked me if I'd like to get together for dinner some time.
Pretty much in shock that he was interested in me, a 41-year-old divorced single mom of two young kids, my voice was shaking when I answered, "Okay."
He asked me for my number and as I was saying it, he was punching it into his mobile address book.
"Sounds great, I'll send you a text," he smiled with his perfect teeth.
I was standing there thinking, "What? Text?" I had never received or sent a text message. By the look on my face, I could tell he realized this.
"You don't text?" Mr. Dream boy smiled.
"Well, let me teach you," he said enthusiastically. "Where's your phone?"
By the time I took my phone out of my purse, he was able to take it from me, press a few buttons and show me the text he'd just sent me. It read, "It's Will."
He then leaned in really close (which was sexy) and showed me how to return the text. From that moment forward, I was cast into the world of dating in the electronic era.
I dated Will for about four months, and during that time, I don't think we ever spoke on the phone. Not even once. Every date was arranged via text, and when he just wanted to reach out to say hi, see how my day was, or say something really cute, he would send one, causing my knees to buckle and my heart to pound furiously.
When Will wanted to tell me something longer in nature, perhaps a funny story or a date suggestion, his message was sent to me in an email (with links to potential restaurants and other date places.) I guess that's how his generation does things in the dating arena.
I started to reflect on my pre-marital dating days, which date back to 1999 and earlier. When I'd meet a guy, he'd call my home phone. I can remember times when I'd get home from work and check my home answering machine (there wasn't even voice mail in the earlier years!), so excited to find out if my new man had left a message.
Nothing was instant. Nothing was immediate. You had to wait. And really, it was torturous! At least now, if you meet a guy and he doesn't call you, you know right away because you have your cell phone attached to your body at all times!
The other thing was, if you were dating a guy, he would call you every night and the two of you would spend hours on the phone, just getting to know each other and never wanting to hang up. In a way, I liked it. You really got a feel for the guy, and he didn't have time to think of a clever response via text. He had to think on the spot and answer questions in an open, honest way.
On the other hand, who has that kind of time now? Other than for work, I don't talk on the phone unless it's my family or my boyfriend who is sitting in traffic going to or coming home from work.
A lot of divorced people have kids, so who is going to sit and talk to their new guy on the phone? In that regard, Will's use of electronics was the perfect match for my single mom lifestyle. But I have to be honest, there really was something that felt impersonal about dating someone and communicating only via electronic methods.
The majority of young people are like Will. They don't use the phone. And divorced people don't have time for it either. But I have to say, part of me misses those long, meaningless conversations late at night, both sitting there not having anything to say but not wanting to get off the phone. It's very high school like, but very endearing.
In a real conversation, one that doesn't involve emoticons, like smiley faces, hearts and tear drops, and chat acronyms like LOL, 2NTE, H&K, or KOTL (kiss on the lips), men and women are so much more authentic. Not only are they giving their honest reactions without having as much time as they need to think carefully about their next response, but when you hear someone's voice, there's a much more three dimensional discussion going on. HOW they say something, the way they laugh, or their passion on a certain topic is how you really get to know what's in their heart.
Texting does have its pluses. It's a huge time saver, it's succinct, it can be really sexy. Plus, it's nice to have written things saved if it's a text that means something to you. You can look at the text when you are feeling down and it could bring you a smile and warm your heart.
On the other hand, there's nothing better than to get a phone call from your guy, hear that voice you adore, and reap the benefit of hearing the laugh that lights you up like a Christmas tree coming from the other end of the phone.
There are both benefits and negatives to both electronic communication and to spending time on the phone. Maybe a little more of an effort to talk on the phone to the person you are dating would be appreciated. Yet, keep those cute, sweet, sexy texts coming!
By the way, Will and I are facebook friends and we text each other every once in awhile. I still get a happy feeling and a smile when I see a text pop up from him.
Jackie Pilossoph is the author of the blog, Divorced Girl Smiling. She is also the author of the comedic novel, FREE GIFT WITH PURCHASEabout life after divorce. Ms. Pilossoph is a weekly business features reporter for the Pioneer Press, with the monthly column, "Heart of the North Shore." She lives in Chicago with her two kids. And she's divorced (obviously.)