Texting someone new is an emotionally agonizing experience. Usually when you just start texting someone, you’ve only met them once or twice, which means the foundation of your relationship thus far is probably, “You seem nice, and I’d probably bang you before I’d bang the people surrounding you.” Thus the entirety of your future relationship lies within the rectangle in your purse. The texting will prove if you are verbal matches, if you can repartee, banter, if you are compatible spellers or grammartists (not a word, but dammit it should be!). Your texts have all the power to make or break this thing, and your strategy is imperative, like a game of chess. And if that isn’t pressure, I don’t know what is.
It all starts off with the exchange (cue ominous music).
I have never asked a guy for his phone number because I never want the ball to be in my court. I was tricked once by a guy who was developing a texting app on which you could send people doodles, so he asked me to help him test the app and send him a doodle. He was unbelievably gorgeous and charming, so naturally I acquiesced. What did I send him? A poodle eating oodles of noodles. That was the best I could do. I did not send a heart or a smiley face or something flirty. I sent things that rhyme with doodle. Because I am a hopeless case. But I digress.
The exchange. So, he moves first. You are going to give him your phone number. Your real phone number. Not 10 random digits that come into your head, not your very large brother’s phone number. Your actual phone number. He should pat himself on the back for that one as it is. And then you play the waiting game.
There are some devious bastards out there who send a text right away with just their name. They make you think they are braver than you by asking for your phone number, indicating that they ain’t afraid of starting this thing goshdarnit, and then they do a cheeky flip-flop on you, leaving you nothing to work with, and the two of you are stuck in a text stalemate. Nobody wins in a text stalemate.
Then there are the guys who abide by the three day rule, because they get some kind of sick joy out of knowing that you are going absolutely crazy wondering why on earth they haven’t texted you. There are also the guys who never text you because they just like collecting numbers from people, knowing that they can text them if they feel like, because they’re big shots. It’s very easy to have a lot of friends when you don’t try to talk to any of them. Stay away from both these types. They are not worth your time (note that this is me talking to me here).
The guy who texts you as soon as he gets home might be worth a word or two, but oh dear Lord, what should those words be?
You hear your phone ping and naturally you grab it right away (I actually do not have a text tone or vibrate for this very purpose. This sort of anticipation would literally kill me). You see the unrecognizable number displayed proudly across the screen, and you open the message app to reveal: “Hey, it’s Brian. How r u?”
Oh dear, indeed. How am I? Victorious, that’s how I am. So victorious that I am going to look past his use of text abbreviations, you think as you do a little happy, jumpy shimmy. (It’s not that you’re against abbreviations, per se, it’s just that with the invention of touch screens, typing out whole words is so easy and it makes the sentences look so complete and beautifully English and it makes you, Brian, look oh so smart and careful…but you have nice pecs so…) But rather, how does Brian want me to be? Sexy? Is that a state of being one normally associates with oneself? “Hey Brian, I’m sexy.” No, that’s not right. How am I really, though? Tired? Yeah, I’m a little tired. Should I tell him that? That I am tired and exasperated by dispassionate jaywalkers? Is that hot? Are people for or against jaywalking these days? I can never keep up.
You ponder your answer for 17 minutes before you settle on something, but hey, you don’t want to appear too eager anyway.
“Hey Brian. I’m good. How are you?” Yes, that’s good. Keep it generic for now. Jaywalking opinions are solidly third date conversation. And you’ve asked him a question, you brilliant minx, you. Now he has to answer you. It would be rude text etiquette not to.
His response comes in a mere two minutes later. Brian knows Brian, Brian knows how Brian is. Sigh.
“I’m good. Last night was fun, right?”
Now, you’re feeling a bit manipulated. I mean, you did have fun, but he is sort of telling you that you had fun and also asserting that he is right all the time. Brian probably didn’t put that much thought into his semantics, but it is all in the subtext. Do you really want to be with a manipulator? What else will Brian insist is right? You’re pro puppy killing, right? Dessert is awful, right?
“Yes (or should I put, “Yeah”? Is “yeah” a bit more aggressive? A bit more laid-back, yet powerful? “Yes” might be read as, “Yes, sir,” and then that may put me in the weak spot. Ooh ooh ooh! I got it!).” Accordingly, you delete “yes” and put, “Yup. Very fun.” It wasn’t just fun, Brian, it was very fun. You don’t know everything.
But…what else? “Very fun” is not a conversation starter. It may even make it look like you are avoiding conversation. And you aren’t. Not yet.
“Yup. Very fun. Would’ve been more fun if there’d been a clown.” God, you’re smooth.
What the fuck are you supposed to do with that one?
First of all, Brian, I know you didn’t laugh out loud because it wasn’t that good of a joke, but you probably would have laughed out loud if you had made it, you cocky son of a bitch. I opened an infinite number of conversational pathways by introducing a clown character, and you write it off with a Lol. Is this really how you want us to end, Brian? I will not give you that power. You will not have the last word. You will not have the last Lol.
Alright, you, what’s your next move?
You could ask him what he’s up to. No, you can’t, because then it might make it seem like you’re trying to hang out, and you just saw him 12 hours ago. You could expand on the clown thing, but you’d probably only be met with another Lol. What you need to do is give him something he has to engage in, something he cannot ignore. Something interesting that reveals something about you, just so he has an idea of the mess he’s getting into.
You change the channel and find that Lord of the Rings is on and that it will be followed by The Shawshank Redemption. Man is it a great day to be hungover. Ooh, that’s it! Movies! I will ask him about movies.
“Have you ever seen Lord of the Rings?” This is excellent. From here you can talk about characters, which installment is his favorite, if he read the books, how much Quenyan Elvish he knows. Oh, the possibilities!
And two hours later, you have been met with silence.
What did it mean? Was he not a fan of Peter Jackson’s interpretations? Was he out at another bar getting another girl’s number, telling her about the crazy girl from last night who had a thing for clowns? Was he dead? If he was dead, you’d have no way of knowing. The most anyone in his life would know about you is you were this chick he was trying to bang, and even if his family and friends looked through his phone, unless you were clearly labeled as The Chick I am Trying to Bang, they’d have no way of knowing the brief role you played in his life, and even then they’d still have to care enough to send along a, “Hey, just so you know, Brian’s dead” text, and you’d wander through the rest of your life occasionally wondering what happened to that Brian guy and if he did like Lord of the Rings and how he felt about jaywalking.
You try to distract yourself with the glorious movie marathon unfolding in front of you. You put on sweatpants, you reheat the pizza, and you’re just starting to think life doesn’t get any better than this anyway and Screw You, Brian, when your almighty phone pings once more.
Yeah, this isn’t gonna work. Check and no mate for you, Brian.
I have since thrown caution to the wind when it comes to texting/talking to a guy and tend to go full throttle with my weirdness and candor. I am luckily blessed with a boyfriend whom I can text at any time of day about a variety of subjects, from ram gagging to building forts out of cake to raps about the dangers of drugs, and he will listen to me rant about jaywalkers (if there is a car coming, you run! Run, you whackjob! That car is so much bigger than you). But boy, have I been there. And if you have never experienced text anxiety, I want to know who built you.