SMS leads to date leads to SMS?

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text message new reut REUTERS However, both men and women agreed that expressing affection via text enhanced a relationship.

Washington - Recently, New York magazine convened a panel of pickup artists and dating coaches to discuss the state of seduction.

“Technology has changed, but the difference between men and women and the dating philosophy does not change,” The Rules co-author Sherrie Schneider said.

“There’s a very strong disconnect between men and women,” added self-described “romance artist” Zan Perrion.

“We’re all hyper-connected online and yet we’re fundamentally disconnected.”

That stance may help sell books on how to decipher the behaviours of the “opposite” sex, but this is 2013 – nobody buys books anymore. Smartphone-enabled daters are busy interpreting their own texts and coming to alternative conclusions about romantic connections between men and women.

A new study commissioned by online dating sites surveyed 1 500 single men and women across America about their romantic behaviours and expectations in the age of the smartphone, and found few gender differences in how they approach dating.

Among the findings:

* About a third of single people think “it’s less intimidating” to ask someone out via SMS. (No gender difference.)

* Forty-six percent of singles get annoyed by a dating prospect who texts too frequently. (No gender difference.)

* Seventy-eight percent of singles expect to communicate within 24 hours after a good first date. (No gender difference.)

* Men and women are about as likely to prefer a call after a good date, to break off a casual relationship via SMS, and to have checked their phones during sex.

* A slight rift emerges in the crucial issue of who should SMS first after a date: men are a little more likely to say the woman should text first, while women are more likely to say the man should text first. But the majority of men and women surveyed are in agreement: it doesn’t matter who texts first.

Unfortunately, the lack of gender differences hasn’t led to any consensus on how single people ought to pursue one another via QWERTY keyboard.

According to the study, the majority of single men and women are in agreement that “texting has made dating more ambiguous”.

The old courtship model – where the man pursues until the woman fends him off or acquiesces – is dead (and good riddance), but a new romantic script has failed to emerge.

Consider the text initiation issue. Under the old model, the man would SMS a woman; the woman would field the advance, and the man would keep texting until she either agreed to a date or blocked his number.

That script pits men and women against the other based on perceived gender differences.

Now that those stereotypes have crumbled, the new model pits men and women against each other based on mutual lack of information.

Imagine that a woman meets a man she likes very much. If she texts him first, and he likes her back, they’ll see each other again. But if she texts him first, and he doesn’t like her, she risks personal and social embarrassment for shooting off that unreturned “heyyy”. So she doesn’t SMS him, and instead she waits until he texts her (at his own personal risk), and they go out again.

Or she doesn’t text him, and he doesn’t text her, and they never figure out if they hated each other or if they were both just bluffing. They die alone, separately.

In a romantic landscape where we can no longer rely on gender stereotypes to dictate our behaviour, every dater is going to have to step up and be a little braver, kinder and more honest in order to get what he or she wants.

Interestingly, the study did isolate some characteristics, beyond gender that could point to a person’s compatibility with another texter.

iPhone users are more likely to ask out a person via text than Android users.

Android users are a little more likely to view the who-texts-first issue as gender-neutral, and they’re also more comfortable with significant others looking through their phones. – Slate / The Washington Post News Service

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