We’d made vague plans to see each other that night. Like me, you are probably so used to keeping your options open – and not deciding what you’re doing on a Friday night until about 6.59pm that evening – that the idea of ‘dating’ seems pretty foreign. Increasingly, we ‘hang out’ – and not necessarily as a twosome. The social psychologist Ben Voyer warns that while texting and online messaging are perceived to be easier than face-to-face contact or a telephone conversation, in the medium to long term they can make things more difficult. Your guess is as good as mine.) ‘Face-to-face contact is much richer.
Actually phone someone up to ask them out and agree on a date at some point in the future and put it in my diary? We have more visual and audio cues to help us form an impression of someone.’ Of course endless texting will never offer the same insight into someone’s personality as even a single face-to-face conversation.
I might be missing out on love, but I’m never short of intrigue, and right now intrigue seems more fun. In fact, I can’t remember the last night out with my single friends where we all stayed until the end, or where we weren’t joined by a special guest at some point.
Some of this intrigue even becomes actual, real-life, human interaction and perhaps… But mostly I’ve found myself in a perpetual state of limbo – stuck somewhere between first encounter, a hook-up and a full-blown relationship. Twitter, Facebook and Google have turned the dating world upside-down, changing how we meet people, what we know about them before we do – and introducing a new layer of ambiguity into single life that generations before us never had to contend with. ‘Drinks with the girls.’ ‘Want to meet us at my local? I schlepped all the way across the city – only to spend the next three hours with Paul and about six of his friends. And it isn’t simply a case of women being on the receiving end of the latest incarnation of male dating fecklessness. But in the world of endless options, where nothing seems permanent, and you never have to interact with anyone face to face if you don’t want to, me actually picking up the phone, telling someone how I feel about them, or even asking them out for dinner seems like too big a risk.
I’m finding it hard to get too worked up about this just yet.
Emma Weighill-Baskerville believes we risk becoming emotionally stunted by our reliance on texting and instant messaging.
‘As a nation we’re learning that it’s better to dismiss uncomfortable feelings and take an avoidant approach.
Occasionally, I’ll see someone once or twice, then decide they’re not for me.
But instead of politely disappearing off the edge of the earth and never being seen again as in the Olde Days (1996), these men are now my Facebook friends.