If I've learned anything from sex scandals, it's that texting somebody you're hoping to sleep with can be dangerous.
Especially if you're married. Or famous.
But this isn't about dumb Tiger Woods. This is about the rest of us, and those normal, baby-step texts surrounding a first date that can often go horribly awry. Before, you'd just get a girl's number, and if it was real, you'd set up a date with her and see her then. But now we have texting/IMing/emailing and, good lord, Facebooking
each other. There are so many opportunities to be misunderstood!
These days, if you're going on a date with someone new, chances are you've "talked" to this person electronically before you even get to make awkward conversation about your "crazy" work week over salmon croquettes and the second least expensive bottle of wine on the menu (can't look completely cheap!).
But I implore you: stop. Don't text me, IM me, Gchat me or -- heaven forbid -- Facebook me after we've established our first-date time and place.
Let me explain.
It dawned on me recently on a particularly silent first date, while chewing a mouthful of appetizer, that I'd already been on a first date
with this girl. Not literally, of course -- just without the rubbery calamari. She and I had emailed about a half dozen times, swapped multiple texts and, in a moment of weakness, exchanged a minor flurry of G-chats.
It's not that I had nothing left to say to her -- just nothing within the realm of easy, first-date rapport. Have you ever done this? Just blazed through all the simple biographical stuff before your first meeting, only to be left on your first date staring holes into a breadbasket?
Texts -- the 'Spoiler Alert' of Sexual Tension
Let me propose something radical here -- I say we stop with the incessant emailing, IMing, texting and Facebooking (more on this in a sec) before we actually know each other. A simple, quick phone call establishing the logistics of the date is best. But no one likes phone calls anymore! God forbid
you call someone and leave a voicemail! You might as well heave a bag of caramelized rat feces through their bedroom window. (To be fair, I haven't actually called a woman before a first date since everyone was using flip-phones and wearing bootcut jeans, but I'm going back to it.)
The first date is supposed to be an adventure, right? There should be a bit of improv, and the emotional highs and lows that come with finding out that somebody is allergic to fennel, or that they also love "Ghostbusters II." I want the chance to charm my way back into your good graces after I casually comment that Ivy League schools are asshat factories only to find out you went to Princeton.
Isn't half the fun the blind grope for commonalities and the strange conversational wormholes that form from a piece of surprising information ("Your dad's a Southern Baptist and a GLAAD member? INTERESTING! Why don't you tell me more about it!")?
Pre-date texts can be exciting, in that they're often short, sweet and a little bit of courtship. But too many faceless communiqués dampens the potential intrigue and sets a dangerous precedent. Also, it's difficult to know when to stop. Who wants to be the last person to send a text, especially if you took a flier with a fart joke? There's nothing worse than hitting 'send' and enduring nothing but hours of silence after. (Cue countless women writing me telling me no Real Man would send a fart joke. Um, you're probably right.)
I Don't Want to Be Your Facebook Friend
Facebook may be the biggest minefield of all. Even though I don't communicate a lot through Facebook, my social networking presence is still a random compendium of information about me, including embarrassing "tagged" photos of yours truly holding over-large cocktails. It isn't so much a comprehensive representation of who I actually am than proof that my friends take too many pictures. If you're a potential date and are cruising my page, you may take the photo from that one time I wore a sombrero as cause for concern that I have a closet full of coordinating ponchos.
What do you do if your prospective date friend requests you? Stall. Unless you manage your Facebook page with German precision, I highly advise waiting a bit until you let someone into the wild world of your Thanksgiving 2009 photo album.
Tell me if I'm being a Luddite about all of this. I agree -- there's something moderately relieving about getting a bit of banter going and determining that you actually have things in common before that first date. But I think there is a limit to the amount of info you want before you actually face someone, and I think that limit is low.
The first date isn't supposed to be easy -- it's supposed to a little mysterious and totally nerve-wracking. The heady brew of the unknown can be all-too-easily diluted by electronic, low-risk conversation beforehand. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think those innocent texts, emails, IMs and Facebooks have the potential to turn a scary, sexy, high-value risk into a contest of who can chew the quietest.
[Redacted] writes for Lemondrop when he's not breaking fragile hearts and avoiding Victorian diseases all over the Eastern seaboard. You can send him hate mail and love letters here.