• Tue, Dec 21 2010

Textual Healing: You Can’t Judge A Relationship On Texts Alone

textingText messaging is often the fastest way to communicate with friends and acquaintances, but it’s not always the best one. Especially when it comes to texting with guys. Here at Crushable we aim to help you sift through all the subtext and emerge relatively unscathed – with a little help from our friend Amanda Ernst.

We’ve all known those serial texters — guys who seem really funny and cute over digital forms of communication, but fail to measure up where it counts: in real life.

And that’s something to keep in mind. Texting is a skill, not an accurate representation of someone’s real interpersonal abilities. Sometimes we forget that a guy’s attitude toward us over text might be completely different from the way he feels, and acts, when he’s around us IRL.

Crushable commenter Katie has been there. “I was in a ‘serious’ text-lationship for half a year with a guy,” she revealed. “Shocking, I know. However, it was kept up because every three to five weeks we would run into each other. [We] never said too much and never hung out too long. It was like there were two different people, the first was a guy I could tell all my secrets to, laugh with and go to if I had problems and the second was well…just an awkward barely-even-friends-with guy. You can guess which one was the text-lationship and which one wasn’t. I trusted him through texts only, he was fun through texts only, and that was enough to keep me interested for half a year.”

“Texts only” seems to be a theme in my experiences as well. Whether initial text messages turn into an unrequited “text-lationship” (discussed in more depth here) or result in a couple of hook-ups or dates, I often find myself wondering how someone so interesting, engaging and sweet in our digital interactions could fall so flat in person.

This points to both a positive and a negative of texting: there’s more time to edit and think. Even during a quick interchange, where you and your guy are furiously texting back and forth, he still has a few seconds to think about how he wants to respond to you, whether he wants to be funny, flirty or supportive. Many guys, and let’s face it, people in general, aren’t that quick on their feet, especially when they’re face to face with someone they’re trying to impress. It’s easy to hide nerves and general awkwardness by text, and while you can click digitally, you might not find the same chemistry face to face.

Men who fall flat in person likely had these same issues back when most communication was done with letters and, more recently, phone calls, before the proliferation of text messaging. There are obvious challenges to translating a text-based exchange into a good face to face encounter. (It works the other way around, too, hence everyone’s trepidation with entering into a long distance relationship.) So what can you do when you realize that the guy you’re crushing on might be better over text messages than in person?

First, you have to define the problem. For example, “We text at least once a day, but I haven’t spent more than an hour with him face to face.” Or, “I haven’t seen his face since the first time we met, yet we’ve been texting for weeks.” Or even, “Every time I suggest we meet in person he says he’s busy.”

After you’ve decided what’s going on at the heart of your relationship, try to remedy the problem. Suggest meeting for a date, or spending less time texting and more time hanging out. Or try calling him on the phone. If he’s open to your suggestions, you’ll get to spend some different kind of time with him, and you can finally see how you feel about him one on one. Maybe, like Katie, you’ll learn that you two don’t really work in person. Hey, that’s okay, too. “Thank goodness it dawned on me that spending an hour a month with someone is far from a friendship and even farther from a relationship,” Katie eventually concluded. “The age of technology is a difficult time to live in.”

Have you ever had a relationship with a guy who was better in text messages than in person? How did the situation get resolved? How did you approach it with him? Leave your experiences in the comments below and you might see it featured in an upcoming installment of Textual Healing.

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