(CNN Photo/Ferre Dollar)
Real communication often takes courage. It’s not easy to drop our defenses and reveal our insecurities to one another, especially if we’ve gotten our feelings hurt a few times. But developing your emotional intelligence is a critical ingredient in all healthy adult relationships.
A short text in the middle of the day to let someone know you are thinking of them is a sweet gesture. But if you imagine that sending a daily barrage of texts, such as “driving to work, heading to lunch, or just left a meeting” is a romantic way to show you are thinking of your partner, think again.
Or texting in the middle of the night. I once dated a 50-something guy who thought it was romantic to send me a “good morning” text at 4:30 a.m. Good grief. When the chime on my phone jolted me awake, I panicked: “Someone must have died,” I thought. Why else would anyone text me at this hour? Bad move.
“Texting is not the place for anything serious. Never handle something over text that should be handled in person or over the phone. This just shows that you are a weakling who deserves a good slapping. Swallow your fear, and pick up the phone.” says relationship expert Michael Masters, author of “TextAppeal — For Guys! The Ultimate Texting Guide.”
Don’t get me wrong, no one has time to be on the phone all day every day, but I can guarantee you that if the woman you’re dating would rather text you than call, the relationship is over.
Also, it’s best to avoid needy “Crack Texting.” “This is hands-down the number one mistake people make,” says Masters. Texting is best used as a slowly developing conversation. And the benefit of texting is that you actually have time to think before you blast off an inappropriate message. I like Masters’ rule: “The hotter the person is, the less you should be texting them. Don’t be needy.”
I get it. I love technology and I text, tweet, tumblr, pin, and share on Facebook with a passion. Social networking is an integral part of my life. But when it comes to romance, women still need to hear your voice or look you in the eye when we’re talking.
“[Research shows] that about 93% of how we make our first impressions of people within 30 seconds of meeting them is nonverbal communication — body language, voice tone, personal appearance … ” Gandhi reminds us. “And relying on texting to build a relationship is a recipe for miscommunication, and premature intimacy.”
Don’t let technology turn you into a coward who is afraid of real conversation, or sharing yourself in any meaningful way. Don’t be a Russell Brand. If you have more virtual friends on Facebook than you do in reality, it’s time to reevaluate your life. Get out there make a few actual friends, in person.
Dating is easy. It’s risky. But it is not nearly as complicated as many people make out — as long as you actually like yourself first and are basically satisfied with your own life.
I admit there is one date text I always will answer: “Want to go to the Knicks game tonight?” Now that message just might be the start of a beautiful relationship.
Editor’s note: Roxanne Jones is a founding editor of ESPN The Magazine and a former vice president at ESPN. She is a national lecturer on sports, entertainment and women’s topics and a recipient of the 2010 Woman of the Year award from Women in Sports and Events. She is the co-author of “Say It Loud: An Illustrated History of the Black Athlete” (Random House) and CEO of Push Media Strategies.