So. I was 23 when I got married for the first time. It was 1994. I do not think I had a cell phone at that time, and if I did, it wasn't something I used regularly since it would have been clunky and expensive. We called each other on a phone attached to a wall jack and we left messages on answering machines. So when I found myself divorced at 33 and thinking about dating, some things had definitely changed.
The advent of the readily available and affordable cell phone changed a lot about the process of dating. As my friends were talking the other night about how cell phones have affected kids with sexting and being disconnected from what they say to people on the other end of a cell phone, I interjected, "It's not just kids!" That disconnect has affected everyone. People will now say and text things they would never say to someone's face.
Let me introduce you to the Dirty Texter. This guy was a sports radio announcer in Alabama. He was educated and employed. He had a daughter. He seemed normal. He traveled fairly frequently, so the fact that I lived in Pensacola, FL (about 4 hours away from him) didn't bother him. He emailed me through a dating site and after several emails asked if he could call. Our conversations were good. He was funny and talkative and had some interesting experiences. Communication was good... after all, he communicated for a living.
He called a few times over the course of a week or two. And then he began texting.
Big Red Flag
At first there was nothing off about it. But as he texted more and more, he started hinting at things that were not altogether appropriate coming from a total stranger.
"Hey there... I can't wait to kiss you."
Ok. Not overly bad, but how would you know? You've never met me and I could be a nutjob.
"Hey. What are you wearing?"
Huh. Not exactly what I am interested in communicating with someone I don't know. I am still trying to figure out if I even wanted to meet this guy.
One time he began to text when I was driving, so I just called him. I told him I was driving and couldn't text. Conversation was a bit stilted and he asked if he could call back in a few minutes. I said that was fine. By the time I got home and began putting laundry in the dryer, he started texting again.
"Hey, I would really love to give you a massage."
"I would love to give you a massage... with hot oils."
I didn't say anything at this point.
"With hot oils... rub them all over your body."
Again, no response from me as my mind was reeling. Was this a test? Was he trying to see how I would respond? Was he serious? Did he think this was a good way to flirt? Was this just a game he was playing and he wanted to see what he could get away with? Many questions, no answers. Having never really dated in the era of texting, I began to wonder if this was common... do people really think you can say these things to someone you've never met? Apparently they do. Because he did.
When I didn't respond at all, he wrote again about an hour later. He wanted to know if something was wrong. I said, "yes." He didn't know what it could be. I told him I was not comfortable with him texting the things he was saying and that I didn't even know him.
"Well, I think you have some hang-ups that you need to get over."
All I could say was, "You are right. Let me get right on that."
There are red flags left and right in this little scenario. And I was having none of it.
1. No one gets to text you things that make you feel uncomfortable. Period. If this is not your thing, it's not your thing. It is not a fault.
2. When you hint that something is not right for you by saying, "I don't even know you" and the behavior continues, your feelings are being disregarded. Run.
3. When you tell someone you are uncomfortable and they accuse you of being at fault for your own discomfort, run fast and far. You do not get to be blamed for someone else's behavior. The accuser is someone who does not take responsibility for his own actions. BIG RED FLAG.
The job daters have, especially as daters for the second time around is to set boundaries and expectations and make sure that your deal breakers actually break your deal. Otherwise, you are destined to make the same mistakes over and over again. And remember the mantra, "I would rather be single for the rest of my life than be with the wring person." And mean it.
Please visit www.sweetenthedeal.com to find information about my book, Sweeten the Deal: How to Spot and Avoid the Big Red Flags in Online Dating. You will laugh at my stories and learn from my experiences!