Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Texting vs. Calling in the Pre-Dating Stage

In my role as a dating coach, I've been getting a lot of feedback recently from single women in their 40s and 50s about my newsletter article "Whatever Happened to Old-Fashioned Courtship" -- especially regarding the fact that more men these days seem to use text messages rather than phone calls to correspond with women they've "met" online...before they've actually meet in person.

It's not that the women are against texting per se. Their complaint is that the guys seem to just want to text for days or weeks without asking for a phone number so they can set up an in-person meeting for coffee and conversation (and to find out if they have chemistry). Naturally, the women get the feeling the men aren't interested in meeting them at all. And, sadly, that turns out to be true in most of the cases I'm hearing about.

What's the reason for this? Are the guys truly NOT interested? Are they for some reason hesitant to talk on the phone or to meet? Or is this just the new way of doing things in the 21st century dating world? Well, I did some research and heard various explanations from both male and female dating coaches and also from single men themselves. Here are some of the points they made:
1) Texting is a very casual type of communication, and a lot of men get into the habit of texting because it's easier (requires less effort) than having a phone conversation. It's an easy way to flirt without taking it any further.
2) Many guys (especially shy ones) prefer texting because it allows them to think about the wording of what they want to say vs. having to think on the fly in a live conversation. (Of course, the same can be said for e-mailing.)
3) Men think that women will be more likely to respond to a text and it's easier to get a fast reply any time of the day or night because most women have their cell phones with them all day, including at work.

At first look, all of these seem to be logical reasons for texting rather than calling. And they seem perfectly OK to do with someone you know well or have been dating for a while. The problem for the women I've talked to is that they think it's inappropriate in the early days or weeks of getting to know someone (before you're actually dating) because:
1) It's too informal for asking a woman out on a first or second date. Most women say they prefer a phone call, so they know the man actually wants to hear their voice, have a conversation, and get to know them better. Using a cell phone screen and 140 characters per message doesn't allow for that. They say they can tell SO much more about the person through voice tone and inflection, conversation and listening style, etc. during a phone call.
2) It gives an implied sense of intimacy that isn't there yet. When a woman answers every text a man (who's still a stranger) sends her, he gets the message "You seem to be OK with letting me follow you around all day with short, inconsequential messages via cell phone, even though you haven't even met me." And so he continues to do that without taking it to the next level and initiating a phone call, meeting, or date.
3) It gives the man less of a reason to need to take a woman out on a date. By his way of thinking: Why would he need to go out with you when you talk to him all the time anyway?

What do think, this accurate? And guys: what's your take on this issue? Do you text a lot more than you talk with new women you've contacted via online dating sites? If so, why? If you really want to get to know a woman, are you more likely to have an urge to talk with her on the phone or in person rather than via text messages? How do you ask a woman out nowadays? I'd enjoy hearing any and all comments. Thanks!
P.S. I love this quote from one female dating coach: "Conversations are for dates, not for cell phone screens." Just think of all the body language you're missing when you're texting rather than talking in person (since communication experts tell us that at least 70% of what we say is nonverbal)!