A Textual Affair

Girl meets boy online. At this point, boy and girl are a step away from meeting up in person and they swap numbers with the intention to continue getting to know each other. Boy and girl begin to text…and text…and text. It is a non stop text-a-thon. So far so good…in text terms. Girl and boy text in the morning to say good morning, in the afternoon to report on the day’s events and at night, well, just because. The days and weeks fly by and all the while, boy and girl seem to be getting close. They talk about getting together and try several times to make plans . Girl and boy eventually make plans, only for boy to cancel on the day. All in all, this textual relationship has been going on for just over five months. So what’s missing here? In text terms, nothing. We have consistent and constant contact and a seemingly blossoming (albeit slow) connection. In real terms, we have no actual connection or actual desire to meet and what appears to be a painful case of bread-crumbing. I don’t know why Dante didn’t identify a textual situationship as one of the nine circles of hell, but it is.

Texting has steadily become the baseline of modern dating relationships. There is nothing wrong with relationships that are initiated and developed via text. However, what of those that never seem to launch themselves out of the phone and into the realms of real life interaction? This type of textual relationship relies exclusively on texting and exist entirely within the confines of a mobile device. Yet, textual relationships seem to be on the rise. We live in a digital age and also in the golden age of the f*ckboy/f*ckgirl, where options are varied and it is very easy to keep contact and build an emotional intimacy with no physical contact and real effort or investment. So is this to be expected? Not if you stay aware of what doesn’t feel right for you and know your own boundaries.

What do I mean by a textual relationship? I mean a relationship that is based solely on, yep, you’ve guessed it..text messages/whatsapp/other text medium of communication. In the good old days when we used to write letters, this would have been known as a pen pal. A relationship based solely on texting has no progression or development because you never meet in real life. Why would someone do this? Well, the reasons are varied. Texting may be more convenient because of distance, because the attention is enjoyable and also because of the casual nature of the relationship. When all is said and done, an ongoing communication with someone you’re interested in or someone you are supposedly going out with, but have not actually dated or seen in real life, should raise a red flag or two.

Before we get to that, let us play devils advocate for a while. Some people do not like talking on the phone – strange but true. I am one of them, but I do love a Skype/Zoom chat because I like to see the person to whom I am talking. Maybe I am a little weird like that and maybe that is a topic for another post. What I am trying to say is that I can appreciate that it can be easier to text than to call because of the efficiency. You type your text, press send and that is it. There is no pesky waiting for the other person to answer and then having to interact with them real time for goodness knows how long. There is no waiting for voicemail to pick up if they’re not answering/not available and no worry about leaving a message where you may come off as a bit of a fool. Perhaps more compelling is the fact that texting gives the illusion of keeping in touch without the actuality of interacting with the person.

And that’s just off the top of my head.

Text only relationships create and maintain an arms length distance for a reason:

  • You are an option (and not the only one) on their list of potentials: You may be being kept open as a dating option, but is likely that you are not a serious one.
  • They’re just not that into you: Kind of a cliche, but kinda true.
  • They are not the dating kind: They do not seem to be into any that might take them into the outside world and into real life interaction. It is likely that they prefer their video games or reality TV shows to having a real relationship.
  • They are not ready for a real relationship: Maybe they have been hurt badly in previous relationship and may use texting as a way to not feel lonely, because they are getting validation and their ego stroked. Texting also prevents them getting close enough to have a real relationship and possibly getting hurt.

Now, there may well be people out there for whom this kind of go nowhere relationship works. It is low effort and low risk, which is ideal if you are not wanting to invest in another person, for whatever reason. And hey, maybe that is just where you are at right now and I am throwing no shade on that. The issue comes where this limit is not clear and your text-pal has thoughts and expectations beyond being a digital lover. What then? It raises a question as to whether we are we limiting our potentials for truly connecting with people by getting to know them in less than ideal circumstances. Let’s not forget, texting is just as addictive as the attention that you might be seeking from it. Is it worth getting addicted to something or someone who may be in and out of your life in the time that you can take a selfie?

Maybe they say they want to meet but always seem to be busy. I’m a firm believer that we make time for the things we want to make time for and that are important to us. Being “too busy” to ever actually meet IRL is a good indication that things are going nowhere, which is confusing when you are texting literally all day and night. Yes, it is nice to have someone to text back and forth with and it can even begin to feel like a real relationship is being built. However, if you are never able to find time to be in the same room or place together, it is a situation that is going nowhere.

Perhaps the worst thing about a textual situationship and why it deserves to be one of the nine circles of hell is because it is lazy. Imagine – if it is lazy from the beginning, how do you think it is going to develop? Do you think it will morph into a connected, fulfilling and proactive relationship? As we often say here, a good indicator of future performance is past behaviour. If it starts out as lazy, it will likely end as lazy.

Textationships are not meant to stay for the long term or even turn into something meaningful. They are meant to kill time. So, if you find yourself stuck in one, get out fast. You’re throwing your time and energy into something that’s never going to happen. If you are single and have encountered Mr. Texty Guy, it is probably annoying the crap out of you….which is likely why you have found your way here. If the actual date invitations are not forthcoming after significant time has elapsed but the texts are still following thick and fast, that is evidence enough to make you “NEXT!” Mr. Text.

Go Well

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