I did something today that I don’t usually do — I tried to prove myself wrong.
As a dating coach, the advice I give is what I know to work. Even if it works 90% of the time, I’ll still advise it. Especially since I can’t, of course, control how other people react.
If you’ve been reading my column long enough, you’ll know that I often call texting “the death of the first date” or “the place where dates go to die.” (I’m not usually this morbid. Promise.) So today, as I managed my own Bumble account, I wanted to prove myself wrong.
I was chatting with a guy who, after a few messages back and forth about our dogs and weekend plans, asked for my number. Actually, he said, “Maybe you’d like to meet up?” (While I’m glad he asked, I have a personal pet peeve with the “up.” Are you trying to make it seem more casual? I’d just like to meet. Period.) Regardless, I replied, “That sounds nice!” Then, he asked, “Why don’t you shoot me your number?”
Normally, I would advise a client (or myself) to say, “You know, it actually helps me stay organized to arrange the details on here, but I’m happy to plan something for this weekend.” It works like a charm. It pushes for the date while keeping the communication on the dating app so the conversation doesn’t go into the texting abyss, as it so often does.
But I decided to use this as an opportunity to re-assess my views. I realize that this sample size of one cannot draw conclusions, yet the behavior I saw was exactly as I predicted it would be:
Him: Hey this is your bumble prince (The lack of punctuation when writing to a writer is not lost on me.)
Me: Can you really be my Bumble prince if you don’t have an iPhone? :) (His texts were green, meaning that we’re not using iMessage, meaning that he doesn’t have an iPhone.)
Him: Yes ma’am! I make up for it
Me: We will see!
Him: Haha I’m already getting judged
Me: Not at all.
Him: Just giving you a hard time!
Me: I got it!
Him: I feel like you’re probably more sarcastic than me. (Should be “than I,” but I’ll let this go for now.) Or maybe sassy is the right word
Me: I am 0% sarcastic. I actually hate sarcasm. Sass I have in spades! (And yes, I did use the spade emoji.)
Him: How come you don’t like sarcasm?
Me: I often find it mean.
Him: Love sass! Ahh yes I can see that. I am definitely not mean
But I’m not sarcastic a lot
Sassy for sure
How’s your day going? (Note: This is where things always go downhill.)
Me: Super busy actually!! (Note: It was 1 PM on a weekday!)
Him: Ohh well then I can text you later
After one more “How’s the day been??” three hours later, when I was still working, and I responded as such (though very nicely), he was never to be heard from again. Yes, I could have pushed things along if I wanted to. But I didn’t.
As I told a client yesterday, texting before a first date is like driving a new car off the lot — it depreciates immediately. I’d venture to say that once the phone number is given on the app, there’s a 60% chance that the first date will no longer happen. Why? People get lazy. They text, “How is your day?” vs. “Let’s confirm our plans for Sunday. How’s 4 p.m. in Shaw?” Or someone says something that gets misconstrued. Or someone sends something inappropriate. You might be thinking, “Wouldn’t I want to know if someone is like that before we meet?” Sure. But I still want you to just get to the date in order to make the assessment for yourself.
So, as much as I wanted to prove myself wrong, I stand by my advice to keep the date planning on the dating apps and then only exchange numbers at the last minute for contingencies. People get in their own way without knowing it. Don’t let them.
Erika Ettin is the founder of A Little Nudge, where she helps others navigate the often intimidating world of online dating.