THE BLOG
08/12/2014 11:08 am ET | Updated Oct 12, 2014

A Textual Relationship

Tara Moore via Getty Images

In spite of where your brain might be headed after reading the title of this post, the relationship in question isn't inherently sexual (though that's not to say that sex is off the table).

If you're into online dating and have picked someone up off of Tinder, Hinge, OKCupid, JDate, JSwipe, E-Harmony, Match.com, Coffee Meets Bagel or any of the other multitudinous online dating sites, you've probably experienced a relationship that qualifies as a "textual" one.

Before online dating came into existence, there were pretty much two ways you could meet someone -- a random chance meeting while out in the world or as a setup from a mutual acquaintance. Regardless of the way you met, the next steps were usually pretty cut and dry -- if there was chemistry, you'd meet up in person and see where things went.

Of late, I've come to realize that there's an entirely new dynamic in the "getting to know you phase" of a relationship. And it's all done via text.

Scenario one:
You meet online. Initial messages are exchanged. Commonalities discussed. You've learned enough about one another to decide that neither appears certifiable and you're ready to move to the next step -- the exchange of phone numbers. This can be a dicey move because who knows whether they'll abuse the privilege (or whether they are a textual deviant intent on sending you dick pics now that they have your personal information). Regardless, the assumption is that at this point, you're a step away from meeting up in person and it's a show of good faith. Once numbers have been swapped, you begin texting. Sometimes, it's a text here and there. Other times, it rapidly escalates into a non-stop textathon.

I for one think this is incredibly bizarre. Why are you talking so much if you've never even met? What happens if once you meet, there's no chemistry and now you have this awkward thing going where you're communicating every single day? Not to mention that the inevitable ghosting can take on a whole new level of obnoxiousness once this level of communication has been established. It's a problem.

Scenario two:
You've gone on a date. There's chemistry. You liked one another. But you live in New York, which means that the likelihood that in your over-scheduled, over-stimulated over-worked and over-planned existence you have a free night that matches up with their free night is fairly limited. So instead, in the traditionally pivotal "getting to know you" phase, you get to know someone by texting them until you find time to have a second date. Equally strange.

People hardly talk on the phone these days. We text. Send pics. Tweet. But can you really get to know the essence of a person in these superficial, limited interactions? What if someone sends a text that's misinterpreted? A flip comment that coming from a friend would be seen as cute and funny but coming from this stranger seems weird and inappropriate. So you write them off and don't give them a second chance on seemingly arbitrary grounds.

I wonder, are we limiting our potentials for having connections with people by getting to know them in less than ideal circumstances? Texting is addictive. Attention even more so. But at the end of the day, is it worth getting addicted to something (or someone) who may be in and out of your life faster than you can take a selfie?

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