Recently I had the pleasure of learning just how much I’ve taught my brother about women.
ME: So a one word response generally doesn’t merit another response right? Like, via text?
MARK: Like when you’re texting a guy?
MARK: Yeah you don’t have to reply to that. Unless it’s your girlfriend. Then something is probably wrong. Like if Simone responds to me with, “OK.” – I’m making a phone call.
It blows my mind how differently guys and girls text. In my experience, guys consider texting to be a nouveau two-way-radio- “Got that? Roger. Over and out.”- while most of my girl friends obsess over every last syllable of every single message they send. “He said ‘Haha’ with two has, not three. Do you think that means he’s getting sick of me?!” I have had hour long conversations with girls deliberating over punctuation, emoticons, and the use of capital letters only to be greeted with a response that absolutely confounds all of us. If texting was meant to be a universal language, guys and girls (and I say this with full respect and awareness of how heteronormative our society and the gender binary is- no disrespect or overgeneralizations intended, I speak solely from my own wholly ignorant heternormative experience) appear to be speaking two totally different dialects.
So I thought I’d write up a little primer on texting girls. If you’re a guy who texts girls and occasionally finds himself totally confused by a girl’s response or reaction, read this. If you’re a guy who a) has a girlfriend, b) has at one point had a girlfriend for longer than six months, or c) just understands women really well, you can skim. But still read it, because you’re a guy, and I really don’t believe that you know what you’re doing.
PART 1: HOW TO READ A GIRL’S TEXT MESSAGES
A. Punctuation is your greatest foe. Women abuse punctuation for passive aggression. There will be girls who deny it- don’t believe them. We all do it. An exclamation point is going to be really rare coming your way if we like you. Because an exclamation point indicates excitement, and we don’t want you to think that we like you- even though we do. (And if that isn’t an Inception style mindfuck enough for you, welcome to the pitfalls of my entire gender). A lack of punctuation generally implies casual, general conversation. Some girls may even choose to omit question marks. But the period? Beware the dot, my friend. Especially in a one word text (see above). Periods are a sign that something in your interaction has gone horribly, horribly wrong.
B. We will never double text you. Double texting makes us look desperate. (Obviously, this doesn’t apply at all to people in relationships). If we double text you, there is an 80/20 chance that we just don’t give a crap what you think about us- aka Friend Zone. That being said, you really shouldn’t double text us either. Not because it’ll make you seem cool and mysterious, but because it’s annoying as fuck when you get 2-5 text messages in a row from someone who could have fit their whole thought into 160 characters.
PART 2: HOW TO TEXT A GIRL
A. If your text message only has one word, you probably don’t need to send the text. Cannot tell you how many texts I have received from guys that literally said “Lol” or “Haha k.” This isn’t even from guys that I’m seeing/interested in- my guy friends (yes I know, I break my own rules, sue me) do this regularly. This is the thing about one word texts: they don’t really give the other person an avenue to respond. But if you don’t want to talk to us… just don’t text us back. It’s really that simple. We will get the hint, trust me. And if you’re not trying to shut us up, well- then you’re just playing with fire, because that’s how we read into it (again, see above).
B. Respond within a reasonable time. Okay, I get that our society dictates that we chase and be chased. I get that the runaround is part of what makes courting someone fun. If everybody responded to texts right away all the time, there would be no anticipation and absolutely nothing interesting. Time and space lets you wonder what the other person is doing. That being said, it shouldn’t take you nine hours to respond to “Hey, how are you?” It doesn’t take anyone nine hours to figure out how they are. Just respond in the same period of day- morning, afternoon, evening- and you will prevent our minds from going into overdrive. “OMG LIKE IS HE AVOIDING ME?!?!?!?!?!?!”
C. Texting isn’t Gchat, and nobody wants it to be. For every guy that’s a fan of the one word response, there’s another that wishes he were John Steinbeck. Text conversations like that can be great- you just have so much to say, you haven’t talked in forever, there’s something you’re really excited about. But it’s really hard- especially during charged emotional conversations- to type as fast as you think. If you really can’t pick up the phone, it may be better to save these conversations for Gchat. But more importantly…
D. Would it really kill you to pick up the damn phone? Women love phone calls. It’s old fashioned and outdated but it’s still cute. I know we’re the generation of technology and blah blah blah (and to tell you the truth, I’d probably be super intimidated if a guy I barely knew decided to call instead of text), but sometimes hearing a voice humanizes everything. I have been in absolutely vicious I’m-never-speaking-to-you-again status fights that ended the second we both picked up the phone. Phone calls don’t always have to be a Shayne Ward affair. I know a lot of guys like to say that they’re “just not phone people,” but if it’s something big, we’re still hoping you’ll call.
What texting dilemmas have you encountered? (P.S.: Any gentlemen takers on this issue? We’d love to hear the other side.)