Dear Wayne and Wanda,
I went on a first date with a new girl a couple weeks ago. I'm trying to take things slow -- I just got out of a relationship a few months ago. This girl is cute and cool, and we have fun together.
The problem is she texts me all the time. Usually it's just small talk, saying hi or asking what I'm up to. I can't tell if she's bored or insecure or just checking up on me. I can't text when I'm working and I don't like constantly having my cell in my hand when I'm not.
But I can tell she gets annoyed and hurt when I don't write back right away. I've tried calling her, which I prefer, but she doesn't seem to like that and the conversations are usually very short. How do I tell her she needs to let up? I want to continue to get to know her but the constant texting is annoying.
-- Can We Talk?
You're in the modern-day minority, my friend. Text messaging has rapidly replaced phone chats, a recent Time Magazine Mobility Poll revealing just how much so. The average 18 to 29-year-old sends and receives 88 texts a day. Worldwide, texting has grown explosively: While 14 billion texts were sent in 2000, some 188 billion were sent in 2010.
Just because this is the technology trajectory doesn't mean you have to go along. Some researchers find much of this behavior alarming and fear all the texting is hurting our ability to have meaningful conversations with each other.
This is an especially valid concern when you are just getting to know someone. You might try gently talking about this with your lady friend. Tell her you're not really a texting type and you'd rather spend time having in-depth talks. That will make her feel special rather than defensive.
As for what's driving her fast fingers -- us ladies need serious affirmation in new relationships. Texting provides a near-constant lifeline. At any time of day we can hope that an incoming text is a sweet flirtation or sexy come-on from our man. Texting is a less intimidating way to engage. Most of my girlfriends use it for its immediacy, and when they send a text they expect a prompt reply. All the more reason for you to clarify this with your new female friend so she doesn't inaccurately interpret your silence as disinterest.
OMG! Grls r sooo funny! LOL! Insert winking emoticon here!!
Buddy, you'd better stretch your thumbs and upgrade your texting plan if you want to be with this texty lady or any modern dater. Texting and near-constant communication are in, and the silent treatment, whether real or imagined, is out like your fax machine. If you can't handle that load, you might start looking for partners in the 70-90 age bracket.
Some of her texting is about intimacy and getting to know you. The rest stems from insecurity and even boredom. Annoying, I know. That's why you need to go old school on your new girl ASAP -- talk to her face to face and tell her "I heart you but 86 the texts!"
Well, maybe not that drastic. Confirm that you like her while giving her a realistic outlook of the level of communication you can handle during your workday. Then commit to trying to text her more often when you can. If you don't meet her halfway, she could be so hurt by your digital denial that she'll unfriend you.
What you and Wanda have mixed up is that you can substitute deep conversations about the important things in life for her daily data dump. In reality, the more quality you invest in your communication, the more your relationship deepens, which leads to even more communication on all fronts, deep and shallow, personal and digital.
There's a happy medium here that will make you both happier and better communicators. Just don't EVER let her learn that you can instant message at work or you'll never have time to go to the bathroom much less maintain a successful career.
• Wanda is a wise woman who has loved, lusted and believes in retail therapy. Wayne is a wise guy who has no use for therapy. Send them your questions and thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org.