It’s taken a quarter century, but texting has finally killed romance dead.
Yesterday marked 25 years since the first text message was sent, and in that time it’s changed so much about the way we date. It’s made us more available, more casual, and infinitely more #sextable.
It’s not that romance was perfect before texting came along. It was agonizing in its own way to have to call someone on a — *gasp* — landline. And perhaps even more dramatic was the scene where you parked yourself next to the phone, hesitating even to get up to go the bathroom, lest you miss that all-important call from your crush.
But there was a certain mystery to that era — an unavailability which is almost unfathomable to teens today, whose love interests are instantly available with just a few taps on a smartphone.
Now you fire a message off into the ether and you can be sure it’s been seen almost immediately, no matter where the person is. Then you have to try to go about your life while simultaneously obsessing about why it’s taking them so long to reply.
And then there’s what they say if and when they finally do write back. Instead of having all the tonal clues and intimacy of hearing someone’s voice or talking in person, you’re left to decipher each text. What does it mean that he used the squirrel emoji? What do two exclamation points mean. It’s a hellscape of easily confused signals.
It’s also robbed some of the specialness of actual dates. You can now text someone at any time of the day or night and make a plan — whether its a booty call or an invite to the ubiquitous group date. But it used to be you actually had to plan out a date ahead of time, and put more thought into the outing than “u up?”
Let us not forget sexting, which of course has its own pleasures and purposes. But it’s can also escalate a flirtation exceedingly fast and strip the slow wonder of getting to know someone the old-fashioned way.
You used to have to jump through a few hoops, like meeting, flirting in person, and then going to back to someone’s house before you could actually see someone naked. Now you can see their most private parts within minutes, if you want — and plenty of the time when you really don’t want.
But let’s be honest: romance has never been easy. The dawn of texting may have stripped most of the nuance and exciting tension from modern courtship, but it does have plenty of upsides. If you can clear the hurdles of courting via emoji, texting — which is far better suited for grocery lists and “I’ll pick you up in five” — can be the glue that holds relationships together. So it clearly hasn’t ruined everything.