Dating has gotten cozy with technology in 21st century America. There are dozens of ways for people to contact each other, and giving out your phone number feels like a measure of last resort anymore. And while an e-mail or a text message provides a nice screening step, a phone call still offers important cues about tone, humor and how someone actually interacts, listens, and responds.
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Exchanging flirtatious e-mails at work will no doubt make the day fly by and produce that little high you feel when a message appears. But in the very early stages of getting to know someone, if that's your primary form of interaction with a potential mate, I can't help but see a red flag. According to USA Today
More then 90% of U.S. wireless customers are equipped to send text, according to the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association in Washington, D.C. The number sent between these devices has doubled every year, exploding to nearly 7.3 billion messages in June 2005 alone, compared with 2.9 billion in June 2004.
While texting and emailing can be entertaining, there's also a lot of room for misunderstanding, avoidance, mixed messages, and a feeling of connection without the responsibility of connection. Besides, last week's misbehaving online cites a lot of subtle information that one-on-one interactions provide about mannerisms, tone, and eye contact, which in turn help us keep our social expectations and interpretations in check.
Sometimes we all feel a little safer or less vulnerable from a distance, but real security comes from healthy and honest connections, not from hiding or avoiding risk. The courage to ask someone out, to reveal yourself or confide in someone, or to end a relationship -- live and in person -- this kind of courage remains necessary and respectful for us all.
Your words and your voice are your power; don't be afraid of them. And don't be afraid to insist on the old-fashioned ways of talking. Greg Behrendt, co-author of He's Just Not That Into You, suggests that "in the buffet of communication, text messaging should be a side dish, not the entree." We should welcome and explore these additional way of communicating, but as with anything, we must be certain it doesn't become a tool to avoid risk or visibility, which is another way of avoiding discovery, growth and truth.