Catherine Townsend: Sleeping around

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The Independent Online

It was the kind of tactile first date that made me regret going home alone. Edward, a writer who I met through a friend, and I had laughed and chatted over cocktails, then kissed for a full 10 minutes on the street before he walked me to a taxi. Later, he sent a text message to make sure I'd got home in one piece, which I thought was sweet. The next day he texted a second time, and again later that week asking, "Where r u? Do u wnt 2 meet again?"

It was all very attentive, but in the entire week of back-and-forth midnight missives, he never called me. We'd had amazing face-to-face conversations, so why instead of letting his fingers doing the walking was he relying on his thumbs?

I typed out polite, perfunctory replies at first. But when I got yet more messages asking for "another d8", I was finally driven to hit the delete button.

Not that I have anything against texting - it's great for work, noisy locations and confirming addresses. I also love sending flirty messages. Plus, I've had my share of internet hook-ups, and have largely accepted the role that e-mails play in modern courtship. But deep down, I believe that if a man wants to pick me up, he has to pick up the phone.

Maybe my attitude is anachronistic. After all, some of my girlfriends have entire relationships that start, flourish and are extinguished via text.

But it's my male friends - never known for being great communicators - who are most enamoured of the seductive power of SMS. Michael swears by texting, sayingit lessens the sting of rejection when his overtures are ignored. "Edward is probably just shy!" he said over an Indian meal. "I often do the same, because sending a text is much less of a risk then going out on a limb with a phone call."

I understand his logic, but if he risks nothing he shouldn't be surprised if the relationship that develops mimics the pattern of the text messages: short, sweet and non-committal.

In the buffet of communications, text messaging should be a piece of naan bread at best, never the main course. And they should never be used as substitutions for conversation. Otherwise, you risk depersonalising the really important interactions that should be made face-to-face.

I decided to give Edward a ring. I left him a voicemail saying that I'd had a fantastic time with him, but that I don't accept dates by text. He never called back, and later told our mutual friend that he feared I was "too high maintenance".

Perhaps our fledgling relationship fell victim to simple miscommunication. Or maybe he's a serial texter, like a guy I met last year who cast his net wide by sending texts to loads of girls, always late at night while drunk, in hopes of an electronic booty call.

Either way, I expect a guy who likes me to do more than send a few badly punctuated, half-arsed blurbs in horrific, abbreviated text lingo. At least I'm not waiting for my handbag to vibrate. Technology may change, but thoughtfulness never goes out of style. In other words, Edward, "c U wen hell frEzz Ova!!"

c.townsend@independent.co.uk

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