Etiquette For Over-Aged Texters


“Carol,” 53, didn’t know whether to laugh or cry when she talked about how texting had almost led her to “romantic” folly.

Newly single, “Carol” hadn’t been on a date for twenty-five years.
Then, walking her dog on Balboa Island, she met “Hal,” who invited her to coffee. She thought he was cute and he liked her dog. Not a bad start. After an hour or so of pleasant conversation, he told her he was leaving on a two-week business trip and proposed that they “text” in his absence. She agreed.

“What’s up with “texting”?” she asked her more-worldly friend. Why can’t he just call?

“Too intimate, too soon,” explained the girlfriend.

“Carol” was a text-virgin; fortunately for her, the learning curve turned out not to be too steep. As promised, “Hal” sent a message. She responded. He wrote back. How long should she wait to text again? How long should the message be? How much information should she offer up? What was okay to ask him about his life?

Ignoring caution, she jumped in, told him all about her husband who had died last year and about how being single wasn’t much fun.

She told him about her difficult pregnancies and about how her now grown-children were encouraging her to marry again.

She asked his opinion about how to handle a problem at work.

She sent him photos of beautiful sunsets.

“It was fun and cathartic,” said “Carol.

Three days later, “Hal” stopped responding. Confused and annoyed, she shared their ninety-text- in-three-day history with her girlfriend who she hoped would give her some insight.

The girlfriend was outraged. “Carol” had done it all wrong by revealing too much, for sure. “Hal,” by contrast, had offered up nothing at all, about himself.

Turns out, for good reason. “Hal” was married, a fact he had never bothered to share. “Carol” discovered this when his “wife” sent her a vitriolic text, with a family photo. She apparently had access to her husband’s phone.

“I was so embarrassed,” said “Carol.” “But I learned… I learned….”

What did you learn?

“That if you do it right, texting can be a good thing.” She smiled and explained that she wasn’t going to let one creepy man make her a cynic.
When it comes to romance and a few other things too, “texters” would do well to follow a few rules:

1. Never forget that whatever you write can be shared with others and that texts can be easily misunderstood.
2. Do not text too much, too soon, in a new relationship.
3. If you text too often, you may seem like a stalker.
4. Text about informational topics. About when and where you’ll meet or be available to talk.
5. Something really important to say? Don’t text. Don’t e-mail. Pick up the phone.
6. Please don’t break off a relationship with a text message. That would be clear, sharable evidence that you are not very nice.
7. Do text to let someone know they are in your heart or in your mind.
8. Trying to text-connect with someone? Vary how often and how quickly you respond.
9. Remember that texts are more kindly received if they don’t include questions.
10. If you have a long-time love, or even if your relationship is more recent, you’d do well to save the good stuff to share in person.

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