Texting a Relationship- Pretext
There once was a time when we tried out relationships by face to face meeting. Of course there was the obligatory phone call, but eventually we met that someone face to face. I met my husband by dialing a wrong number. I suppose if we zipped a few years in the future it could have been a wrong text. But I thank fate it wasn’t. I have no less than five friends who are dating in textland. I call it pretext. Instead of fingering body parts, they finger keys. Instead of gazing into another face, they gaze at a Fb pic or a thumbnail. Instead of actually seeing the nuances that will be deal makers or deal breakers, they are weighing the significance of tweets, tidbits and jargon. “Oh look,” my friend says , “he’s texting me recipes!” I look at the screen and see a recipe for Lovers Delight which involves a banana dipped in caramel, sprouting a dollop of whipped cream and then placed between two lady fingers. “Are you kidding,” I said, never expecting to be answered. Then I ask her for a review of this relationship which apparently her good friend, had been completely unaware of for the past year. “Oh it’s been going on a while,” she says. And then I learned that in the past year, around her other dating experiences, smashed in between the hours at school functions and her job, she’s had a whopping two dates which involved some dry humping on his couch and a lunch at a greasy diner while he waited for them to change his oil in his car. “What happened to dating?” She sighs and tells me “It’s complicated, he’s got all kinds of responsibilities. He’s going through a divorce and we live an hour apart. We can only see each other when my job sends me to his region and that will not be for another week. Then we only have the afternoon because he has his twin girls half the week, a second job to pay his attorney, and then band practice.”
In my world that means more that complication. But Mr. Cutie pie, at least from his Fb picture, texts and texts. Her phone bings or pings- whatever you call it- over and over as we sit down to enjoy or real lunch, not a quickie senza the dry humping. She keeps grabbing the phone and every third bing is her turn to text back. “So, what do you really know about Mr. Cutie pie?” I ask and do expect an answer. She rolls off his life story as if reading a resume. He speaks French to her in the texts, calls her sunshine, takes pictures of the sunsets in the distance of his raised ranch (where I assume his wife sleeps) and sends sweet XX and OOO’s when he goes to sleep, presumably without the wife. And this is going on for almost a year! Boy, am I behind the times.So I was derailed when she called me last week in terrible state. “He ended the relationship,” she cried. But I was puzzled because in my world a relationship involves more than texting images of fruit the size of your penis. “But it was after 12, 346 words, “ she moaned. It WAS a relationship, it was built on excitement, on hopes and dreams and feelings. I sat silent. For one time in my life I had nothing to say. I was not trained in cyber dating. I had a terrible rush of I-do-not-know-what-the-hell-to-say which has rarely every afflicted me. It would take a week to mull it over.
In a bizarre sort of way it was something built on dreams and hopes. But it was never a true relationship. They require experiencing and doing, some commitment that exceeds clicking keys, sandwiched between desperate and short meetings. In other words they require interaction and behavior, and those involve consequences. She had none of that, except for the time he dropped the phone in the snow and she did not hear from him for three days. There was no annoying bullshit, no rotten kids that got in the way, differences of real opinion, and no quirks that might grow into something terrible like bad breath or spitting in public (I’ve experienced them both.) It was all fluff built on imagination and hopes. I did not have the heart to hurt her and tell her what I really wanted to say- that her relationship was like living in a romance novel or steamy sex scene that talked back. Instead I hugged her and wiped away her tears. We parted and I sat in my car staring down at the phone, that tiny piece of technology that just crippled my friend. All of a sudden a ping… who is binging or pinging me? I search for the text button. I look at her words, and for once I am glad I was delicate. “Thank you for understanding,” she wrote. I typed some words of comfort. She responded, “truth is, the phone thing was really never a relationship at all, it was…a kind of flattery…some attention.” I smiled, happy that I bypassed texting 101 and pretext's altogether.