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The Modern Female Angst 

 

Sunday, November 4, 2007.

 

By Allison Gumahad

 

I was his first real girlfriend, and everything was new to him. He was terrified of relationships, and still learning how to be a boyfriend.

 

We always text messaged each other. But one day he wrote: “I LOVE U.” He had never before uttered those three little words. Quite frankly, I hoped he never would again.

 

A text message proclamation of life’s greatest treasure? Gag me. His fears of vulnerability and commitment were clearly far worse than I’d imagined — I might as well have been dating a girl.

 

I’m in fact a huge devotee of text messaging. Every month I go to Verizon to change my plan, upping my text limit from 1 million to 2 million a month (I’m not exaggerating).

 

I use texts for everything. Well, almost everything. Not for relationship milestones. Puh-lease.

 

It’s okay to use a quick text to set up a first date. I mean, really, what am I gonna say to that random guy I met at the bar last Saturday if he picks up the phone and calls?

 

Better a “GR8 MEETING U, DRINKS THIS WKND?” text than a lame attempt at getting to know each other through marginally witty banter and no face to put to the voice. I probably don’t remember what he looked like, anyway. Strobe lights lie at high velocity, so I need to make sure he’s really cute in normal lighting before I upgrade him to actual live phone conversation potential.

 

Yet when a guy texts me, like I want him to, my mother says emphatically: “NO! He CALLS you. A gentleman would call you. How lazy is he, that all he can do is text you? I would not put up with that!”

 

But what does she know about today’s dating scene? When she was dating, all she had was a landline. Today it’s infinitely more common to talk to friends and potential hookups without really talking at all — by, you know, texting. Impersonal? Maybe. But it’s also convenient.

 

In the time it takes for the phone to ring three times, you could, with skinny fingers and a little practice, have already typed and sent everything you needed to say. You can text in class, with the professor being none the wiser. You can even send the same mass text to ten different guys at once - whoever answers first gets the coveted Friday night date! So SMPL.

 

What’s more, if the text is for something simple (isn’t it always?), such as to confirm dinner plans, who cares about impersonal? Personal comes later — much later.

My mother’s advice notwithstanding, texts are now the medium of choice for setting up everything from a first to a 51st date.

 

If he’s already your boyfriend, you know whether he’s a gentleman or not, and whether he can express himself when it matters. I’m for having almost all my communication with my boyfriend via text messages.

 

But I draw the line at texting the “L word,” at least for that very first, very special time. Even worse is to text the killer “IT’S OVER.” And don’t even get me started on emoticons — are they supposed to replace actual emotions? God forbid someone breaks up with you by text, then ends with a :(. Worst of all is “143,” the old-school pager code for “I love you,” or the cutesy poo “LUV YA!” I picture the Clueless girls throwing their hands in the air and kissing one another on the cheek.

 

That guy’s my ex-boyfriend now. It could’ve been worse: at least he didn’t make me question his sexuality by referring to a chick flick. Still, this is one relationship you could say ended with a whimper. Truly.

 

Allison Gumahad is a journalism student at New York University. She can be reached at gumahad@nyu.edu

 

Please e-mail comments to comments@thenewblackmagazine.com

 

 

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