I make, break, and adjust almost all of my plans via text or email. It’s super convenient because there are no extra miserable small talk conversations surrounding the simple exchange of information. Where should we be and when should we be there? Figure out the answers via text, pop the details into my calendar, and I'm done. Seems simple and advantageous for us busy millennials.
But making plans over text makes us lazy. Non-committal.
Maybe even bad at dating.
(okay it's a total stretch but I'm going for effect) -- but take this example:
Dude: Hey, this paper it taking longer than I thought so I can’t go to the movie we picked out — want to hang out later instead?
Me: Are you standing me up?
Dude: No, I’m not.
Me: I think you are.
Dude: I mean, I want to hang out but I should finish it.
Me: Alrighty, I understand. Best of luck!
Dude: Hey, so, I’m still not done. Let’s hang out sometime this week.
(A week passes, and nothing happens but meaningless flirty texts.)
This is a scene from my life during a time when I was alone, working in a big city where I knew no one. I was forced to meet friends and make dates with total strangers whom I met at events, bars, parties, work, wherever. The challenge was great overall, but this situation in particular got under my skin: I had so few social interactions and this guy had the audacity to cancel last-minute? Of course I understood that sometimes work is overwhelming and takes up more time than anticipated, but the more he texted, changed plans, and generally didn’t show up in real life, the less interested I was.
Text-dating and text-scheduling are really great for people like me who are busy and prioritize their independent work above dating most of the time. But when it comes to plans, texting lacks connection and commitment. If that guy had to call me to cancel, he would have to hear my voice responding. He would hear I was disappointed. He might have apologized, rescheduled, or re-adjusted his working schedule. Or maybe I would have heard how non-committal he was and cut it off right there.
Because ultimately, when you get down to really connecting, you can’t show your commitment to someone over a screen.
You can’t text-flirty-glance at someone. You can’t type social disappointment or new-city-loneliness. It’s great for a lot of things, but in the world of dating, texting just lacks emotion and humanness. And emoticons don’t count.
I’m not suggesting you remove texting from your dating scenario — I quite encourage the convenience and fun of flirty iMessages. But I would suggest some best practices when it comes to planning face-to-face interactions:
Just keep a calendar and stick to it.
Be an adult and be on top of your schedule. It may take an extra minute to schedule an event while you’re chatting about it, but it frees you from all of those situations where you have to apologize for forgetting a commitment or accidentally over-scheduling yourself. There are a zillion excellent productivity apps on all your devices to help you make this quick and easy. Once something is in your calendar, treat it as set in stone. It’s an easy way to show people you value them and their time.
If you cancel, give as much notice as possible.
Part of the laziness of text-scheduling is the fact that it takes a millisecond to change things. So you can let the clock run out on your plans until you realize you overslept, under-estimated or just generally lost interest. But think ahead — if you anticipate something might come up, play it safe and communicate early on.
If you cancel, immediately reschedule.
It’s not inherently rude and disconnected to cancel plans via text. In fact, I have been on both the giving and receiving ends of successful and considerate cancels. But show a commitment to getting together with that person by apologizing and immediately rescheduling with a new place and time. And don’t back out on the new plans. Just don’t.
That guy who ditched me via text ended up being not my type at all, so it was easy to walk away without any disappointment or bitterness. But I did give him a couple chances in person before I ended things.
Know how I did it? Yeah, over a text -- not for revenge, but because I'm just as guilty.
Hey, so I think we should just stick to being friends.