Dating (and) your mobile phone

couple-texting

So, there are two parts to this story, one about a relationship that only exists thanks to your mobile phone, and the one that shouldn’t even figure on a date.

I know that all you single guys and girls, and those who have been single in the past 15 years (does that mean 90% of the population?), can attest to waiting for the text message or response from an interesting other. Yes, you know the way it goes;

You 7pm: “Thanks for a terrific time last night”

Him 10am: “Yes, it was fun”

You 10:45am: “We should do it again some time?”

Him (2 days later) 3pm: “Love to”

This is a brush off. You may interpret it as anything other than a brush off… but nonetheless, it is. He is potentially going to contact you at a later date for a hook up (if hook up means sex). But he is not interested in you for a romantic loving relationship. If he was, he would do any, or all, of the following things:

1) use the phone as it was originally invented by Alexander Graham Bell to talk with you;

2) call you to see if you had a good time together;

3) make an appointment to see you again;

4) want you to feel special.

My fella and I went on our first date, and though we went to a very special restaurant by the harbour overlooking the magnificent views of Sydney, and had a very relaxed meal getting to know each other by chatting about our respective lives, there really was one slightest moment when I felt the hook of affection grab me. As we walked out the restaurant, he paused, and asked me, “Have you had a nice time tonight?” It was the simplest question, and yet it struck me that he showed concern that I had enjoyed his company. It was the smallest sign of vulnerability that he shared, and I reflected that if he hadn’t shown it, I would have found him rather indifferent and detached.

Don’t get me wrong, I am glad that he has a healthy ego and displays confidence. But the detachment that single men, and women, display when dating makes me wonder why they date at all? When did romance become so wrought with bravado and wariness that displaying warmth and desire gets confused with dependency and neediness?

I digress… the point here being, showing someone that you enjoyed their company should not be done by text, it should be done face to face, or at the very least by phone. And by the same token, asking someone if you can see each other again should not be by text. Your relationship is not with your phone. It is with a real person. It is a little nuanced, but text messages in early stages of relationships, especially in dating, should only have practical content, not be emotionally loaded. A text to confirm a time or place is acceptable. A text to state that you’re running five minutes late is also acceptable. But a text asking “Are we ok?” is far too loaded. Not only will the recipient feel cornered, but you will also feel weakened by the cry out.

Know this, people will always behave the only way they can. That means, if a person doesn’t fancy another, he can’t force himself to care. If he doesn’t care, then he will do things that display that lack of affection, ie, he will not call.

The shoe fits for both sexes. It’s not unusual for me to cease communicating with a man if I don’t feel a warm connection. It’s not that I’m particularly heartless when I’m disinterested, it’s just that I don’t want to encourage them or send the wrong message. Yes, if I cared, I’d communicate. I don’t mean that I’d send messages all day, every day, but the messages would leave no doubt that the person mattered. Yes, I’d pick up the phone and make a call.

Onto the more practical part of this article, when is it acceptable to use your mobile phone on a date?

The short answer is, as you already know, it’s unacceptable to use your phone on a date.

If, for example, you have children, or are “on call” due to your profession, then it’s polite to let your date know, and then ask him/her if they won’t mind if your phone is accessible. I’ve yet to meet a person who would deny such a request.

You should always leave your phone screen visible, as you don’t want your date to think that you’re hiding the identity of your caller. And should you be expecting such a call, then leave your phone in your bag, and make the ring tone just loud enough to hear it. Yes, be polite. Your date will appreciate your mobile phone etiquette.

Should your phone ring, then it is polite to leave the table and take your call in the restaurant lobby or in a more discreet place. Our old world had powder rooms in the toilets, and it might be time to reinstate them to give us a venue to rush off our text messages and upload and download.

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