Alison Taylor on relationships: 'To text or not to text - that is the question'


Click to follow
The Independent Online

I'm on an easyJet flight, trying to kill time foraging for food in something they call a snack box. I'm on the home straight of my journey back from Crete. The reunion with my new boyfriend is imminent. But earlier in the trip – day 2 – it wasn't butterflies (or hunger) I could feel in my stomach. It was plain, stomach-spinning anxiety. And it was all caused by a text message.

Back when you had to find the local payphone in order to make contact, most of us rationed ourselves to the prison-issue one call home to our mother/brother/ lover. Now the options are almost endless – and all the more perplexing for it. Do you i-message a photo of the infinity pool to them the moment you arrive? Or will that irritate them while they're slaving away at work? Do you call? Maybe – but it is still pretty expensive (unless you have one of those apps, which I don't) and also looks a bit too keen in the early stages. So you text. But what's the metric here? When does cute become needy?

It was my attempt at dancing that hair's-breadth line that got me into this trouble. And here is my take-home lesson: don't ask anyone if they miss you. Ever. Because they won't think it's cute or funny. They will think it is annoying and they may very well feel the need to tell you that, as I found out.

I thought I'd made myself very clear that it was jokey because I'd used a "!?" at the end of my question. It's obvious, right? Well, clearly not. I'd fallen over the wrong side of the line. My silly text became a silly argument: the absurdity of which I can now clearly see, but at the time – and at this point I was on an island that used to be used as a leper colony, naturally – it just brought about a rushing sense of insecurity. I had caused a full-blown argument over an exclamation mark. I used to pride myself on my excellent use of punctuation, too. Next time, I might just send a postcard.