The other day I talked to A. and he asked me whether I’d called back a guy who had given me his number. I told A. that I hadn’t called him yet, and he accused me of playing hard to get. My main motive was slightly less Machiavellian – I simply didn’t have any credit on my phone. On the other hand, I readily admitted that I probably wouldn’t have called straight away anyway out of fear to appear overeager.

I find it difficult to gauge when the right time for contact is. Call too early and you seem desperate, too late and you appear uninterested.

In between those two there is a tiny time window in which it is “cool” to call.

Oh how I wish I could nail this window down to an exact timepoint like “sometime between 10am and 3pm on the second day after you’ve last seen each other”. Alas, at least with me on the receiving end, the acceptable time window moves around depending on how well our first meeting went, what we agreed on, and how much I’m holding out for this call. In general, I’d say anything on the first or second day is good, whereas I’d find more than 72 hours of unexplained silence weird (did you first request a CRB check on me?).

However, while I’d usually raise an eyebrow when someone contacts me the same evening, there have been times when I’ve been thrilled to see my phone light up at 1am, just after returning home.

Time of day is also key – a message at 3am makes me way more suspicious than the same wording at 10am. There’s just no way you can send a casual, breezy message at 3am. Just that you’re still up and thinking about messaging me makes it un-breezy. So if you want to “be cool”, contact me during working hours or in the early evening-but any time works if you want to let me know you really care (just don’t call me in the middle of the night).

This also broaches the next question – how do you contact someone? In our times, multiple channels of communication are open with most people, which brings further confusion. Is it better to call? Or should I send a more casual text? Is a facebook message too nonchalant or an email too formal? The enraging truth is that this decision also has to made on a case-to-case basis. On the receiving end, I certainly prefer written contact. However, this is pretty much only for the fact that I find it much, much easier to react on paper, because I have time to consider and phrase my sentiments. However, if you can deal with me feeling pressured go ahead and call, I’ll probably say yes to a second date simply because I’m caught off guard. Texts can range from being sweet and making me laugh to pointless, full of bad spelling and too short to convey even the most basic message. Emails are nice, if maybe a touch too official – especially when sent from a long-winded work address with 7 line signature. Ok, I get it, you have a job, well done! This is especially endearing (not.) when the actual message is way shorter than the signature.

Personally, I’ll also screen all written contact for telltale typos an disgstin $lang. I use certain abbreviations myself when texting, but couldn’t take anyone seriously who’d write “Yo, want 2 go dancin dis sat? talk 2 u l8r!” etc.

Obviously that in turn makes me really self-conscious when sending texts myself – do I come across as a pedantic stickler just because I spell out “tomorrow” instead of typing 2mro? Or will my email go straight from inbox to trash because of incorrect capitalisation?

All this amounts to my texts being sent all the later the more I like someone, because I fret way too much about how they will be received. Somehow ironic, when their very being so late makes them being received differently.

So altogether, my strategy is:

1) Wait (for daytime for more casual replies)

2) Be brief (unlike with these posts…)

3) Be as niggly/sloppy as I personally like to be. In the end, I neither want a guy who feels intimidated by fully spelt-out dates nor one who rejects me for an occasional slipped punctuation mark.

What’s your strategy?



Filed under General

4 responses to “Txtspk

  1. Rikk

    Provided it’s not in the middle of the night or something, I’m not sure it matters too much. If someone’s genuinely psyched to hear from you, they won’t mind hearing from you a bit early. If they’re not psyched to hear from you, a perfectly-timed message isn’t going to make them any more interested.

    I think most of the anxiety of dating comes from the fear of finding out someone’s a lot less interested in you than you are in them. Most of the etiquette of dating seems to revolve around putting off finding that out, when surely it’s something you want to discover quite quickly.

    I like the concept behind this blog, by the way.

  2. Dale

    Wait for the following day. Write an email, unless you’re on your lunch break, then call. The phone call will show you’re interested but not overeager because you’ve waited until you had spare time to do it. Don’t bother with Facebook; what’s this business of calling someone your “friend” even when you hardly know them? At this stage they’re an acquaintance. Sending a text message can be a safe strategy, unless you can’t spell or have fingers too fat for your phone. If my interest is borderline, grammatical follies and spelling faults are sure indicators that it’s not a date worth pursuing. Emoticons welcome. Apathetic slackers need not apply. : )

  3. Christopher

    The timing thing is tricky.

    As for spelling / punctuation / grammar: yes, please. It’s not just that it makes it easier to understand you, it’s that good language skills in general are a big turn-on. I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve found myself daydreaming about what the author of a particularly delightful turn of phrase might be like in person…

    On the other hand, I can think of several people (including my own mother!) whose persistent laziness about capitalisation or punctuation has greatly reduced the enjoyment of corresponding with them. And woe betide those who do not heed a warning that punctuationless messages have become almost unparseable: put no effort into your writing and I shan’t bother to reply.

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