The Art Of Effective Communication and Why, If I Weren’t Already Married, I Would Probably Die All Spinsterly And Alone.
I can honestly tell you with almost 100% certainty that if I were single today, I would not be able to survive the dating scene in its current state.
It’s not because I’m not outgoing. It’s not because I feel like I have to hide some weird body quirk like a third nipple (it’s a nubbin!) or a hairy ass mole. (Though my cliché tattoo certainly doesn’t help my cause). It’s not because I wouldn’t be able to pick out all of my most flattering tagged Facebook pictures (blatantly ignoring the 90% or so in which I’m depicted — so inaccurately — with a double chin) or write a kickass OkCupid dating profile that would attract the menfolk from miles around.
It’s because I know, deep down, that the minute I tell any one of my potential suitors that I refuse to phone text as a primary form of communication, he would take one last glimpse at my assortment of carefully selected profile photos and witty online banter, tell Cupid that my antiquated, Victorian style of dating is certainly not OK, and move on to the next potential match with equally adorable photos and the ability to form a fun-yet-intellectual email repartee.
Someone who is as opposed to actually talking to a potential match as much as he is.
It’s the Textual Revolution, baby, so I’d best get on board.
I know what you’re thinking.
You’re thinking, hey. The world of online dating opens a whole host of potential matches simultaneously. Keeping the initial communications relegated to emails and texting makes it simpler to entertain many prospects at once without becoming too serious with any of them. You can carry on multiple segmented conversations over a period of days, weeks, or even months before deciding whether or not a person’s voice is worth hearing.
And I get that. I do.
But there are two major flaws in this line of thinking, and the first has to do with Communication. The way I see it, Communication is the only major factor that will determine whether or not a relationship between two people will work. A couple could have opposite political beliefs, different religious backgrounds, one could like country music while the other prefers hip-hop, but none of those things has to be a problem when they come with clear, straightforward understanding.
And that, my friends, is derived from Communication.
I believe the most effective Communication contains 3 main ingredients:
If you’re missing just one of these elements, you’ll find the Communication a bit bland. You won’t be giving — or receiving — the full intent, and you’ll find yourself struggling to understand and be understood.
And it does not start things off on a positive note.
The problem with texting is that you’re not just missing one, but two main ingredients — tone and expression.
Sure, emoticons can help. Throw in a winky face here or a sad face there, and surly the recipient will understand your intended tone because you’re providing expression in the form of a tiny yellow dot with a face.
(In case you didn’t realize it, my last sentence reflects sarcasm. Unfortunately for the masses, there is no sarcasm font or sarcastic emoticon face. And when it’s reflected in words alone, sarcasm is sometimes difficult to recognize. Especially if you don’t know someone personally.)
The thing is, with texting, so much of your early communication is based on assumptions.
Him: She asked me to go to a Ke$ha concert, heart heart, lolz, and I think she was being sarcastic because I thought she was pretty cool, but now I don’t know. So I told her of course I’d go, just to see what she says.
Her: I have tickets to see Smashing Pumpkins and asked him — you know, as a teaser — to go see Ke$ha with me. He said he’d love to. WTF? Is he seriously into Ke$ha? He winky faced, so he could have been teasing, but he’s probably just gay. Great. Why do I always attract the closeted gays?
Frustration ensues and unfair impressions are formed, none of which would’ve happened if they’d been having a flirtatious phone conversation.
The second major flaw with using texting as the primary form of communication in a fledgling relationship is timing.
Timing turns everything into a game.
If you respond to a text too quickly, it conjures images of the unkempt, pajama pants-wearing girl sitting next to her phone with a container of Ben & Jerry’s desperately waiting for that contact. If you respond too slowly, it must mean that either a) You’re not really that interested, or b) You’re playing a game. And games aren’t cool.
At least, everyone says games aren’t cool, yet there you are, attempting to get to know a person through the use of a tiny digital screen and carefully crafted words. You’ve reduced what used to be the butterfly inducing, palm sweating, intellectually stimulating art of conversation down to a couple of thumbs and a keyboard.
An interactive video game for the Communicationally impaired.
I’m not saying you have to go out and meet people face-to-face the second you establish mutual interest. But at least a phone call covers the first two ingredients of effective communication and gives you a chance to really hear what a person has to say before they’ve had hours — or even days — to conjure a well-planned response. You actually might get to know the real person — not just his facade — and make up your mind much more quickly — and accurately — about whether he’s worth getting to know.
You might find yourself smiling more.
Learning to give your full attention to another human for the duration of your conversation.
I’ll admit — it will never be the same as chasing your sister out of the kitchen and twisting the phone cord around your waist while you crouch in the hall closet for privacy, but.
Placing the phone to your ear.
Hearing his laugh.
Sensing his smile.
Getting the chance, just once in your life, to say, “No, you hang up!”
It’s one of the best feelings in the world.
It was one of the best parts of dating.
And I’m telling you:
You’re missing it.