Back in the day, "dating" was passing notes in class, holding hands in the hall and talking on the phone for hour after mundane hour. But that’s because you already knew the guy from gym class or orchestra or whatever, and most of the groundwork had already been set down while running laps or tuning up before class.
Out here in Reasonable Facsimile of a Grownup Land, I’m starting from scratch. And because today is The Future and there is technology, this means a couple of different avenues are available.
If I meet someone and learn their full name immediately, and can manage to work facebook into the conversation, I can probably look them up online, dash off a friend request and google stalk to whatever is deemed a reasonable degree (varies based on how much I like the guy already and whether he has a blog or I’m fishing for 10th grade track and field records).
If all I get (or give) is a first name and a phone number, my options are more limited. For a long time this meant either try to sustain a conversation on the phone when you don’t really know what you have in common yet, or just calling to arrange a date which I actually find more awkward because it feels like I’m on the verge of a conversation, which I should probably save for "coffee or whatever" so we don’t run out of things to say then.
But now there is texting, a blessing/curse for the noncommittal and the overanalytical alike. My last "whatever" abruptly ended because NotRemotelyRoyal LessThanCharming just stopped responding to texts where before he’d been all about the 160 character communique. It’s beyond annoying to have to factor "Did I include one too many "haha" in my last text?!?!!" into your analysis of What Went Wrong, which is in fact why I now Refuse to analyze or participate in my friends’ analyses of text messages in general.
However, not all mantypes suck. And you can have actual conversations by text message that bridge the gap between "can I have your number?" and the first date get-to-know-yous. When I had my first date with the Acceptable Yankee Fan (AYF) on Saturday, we had already texted back and forth for two solid days about favorite movies, books, travel, trading baseball jabs, a light overview of politics and trivia questions design to both impress and stump one another. And it was awesome, largely because we were texting at the same rate. I wasn’t fighting the urge to cling desperately to my phone hoping it would light up and buzz encouragingly because…it was already buzzing. We had an ongoing conversation, punctuated by necessary pauses and free of the constraints of gchat where instant response is implied, and as a result when we finally met up, conversation was easy and brisk and wide-ranging and…
Who am I kidding, this whole "What Dating Means Today" entry was just an excuse to giggle and announce that I met someone and I think I like him. I mean, like like him. And one of the ways I know is that we have the same attitude about communication. In 7th grade, this would have meant he looked for me between classes. Today, it just means that he’s responsive when I feel the need to interrogate him as to his favorite Coen Brothers movie. And fortunately, it’s Raising Arizona.