10/24/12 Texting Relationships

A Purdue student thought he’d ruined his chances to get a date a few years ago when he decided to call the woman he just met instead of text.

Nick Cipollina, a senior in the College of Liberal Arts, said when he got the number of the woman he met on a train, he thought, “Why not? I’ll just call her and see what she’s doing this weekend.” Two unanswered phone calls later, the woman responded with a text apologizing for some excuse or another.

With the awkwardness of that memory still fresh in his mind, Cipollina decided to never call a woman he just met without texting her first.

“Texting’s the way to go,” he said. “You meet a girl, and you text her.”

Cipollina isn’t alone. According to Heather Fedesco, a graduate student who teaches COM 212: “Approaches to Interpersonal Communication,” the role text messaging plays in establishing romantic relationships has “certainly” increased.

“Because of the increased anonymity, asynchronous nature and wide accessibility, texting has become a crucial stage in between dating and entering a serious relationship,” Fedesco said.

Text messaging is particularly useful for young people who are trying to judge potential romantic partners. They can conveniently communicate and respond as busy

schedules allow, as well as get to know someone without making the social investment of a date or a phone call.

“The fact that young people can purposely send

ambiguous messages to avoid being too direct and risk getting rejected, can take their time when crafting their message to think of the ‘perfect’ way to respond and can seek advice from their social network to interpret and respond to text messages, makes it extremely appealing,” Fedesco said.

Cipollina compared this idea of crafting the “perfect” response to playing a game, saying, “It’s a whole game. You have to play this texting game.” Part of that game is creating responses that project the persona you want the other person to see. How often you respond, and when, plays a part in that.

Hannah Wilkerson, a junior in the School of Management, said she purposefully waited a day to initiate a text with her current boyfriend, Josh van Kleek, a junior in the School of Management, after he gave her his

number following the end of Boiler Gold Rush activities. She said she didn’t want to seem desperate.

“I wanted to make it sound cool or whatever,” Wilkerson said, laughing. “I think girls especially try not to look desperate because it can turn guys off, but I think timing is important.”

According to a 2011 study published in the Journal of Research in Personality, texting practices can reveal aspects of the sender’s personality and intentions. For example, female extroverts are more likely to use frequent texting and wordier text messages. Also, people with neurotic tendencies use more negative emotion words, more acronyms and more emoticons.

Cipollina attributes his social slip-up a few years ago to the fact that he had just started dating, and that he didn’t have a texting phone plan. Now he has unlimited texting, and using it for dating purposes is one of the main reasons why.

“It’s like Dating 101,” he said.

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