As one who has studied and coached singles on the intersection of love and technology for 20 years, it was an honor to be called upon by behavior and relationship reporter Sharon Jayson for her in-depth story in Love 2.0: The Tech Effect on Romance.
Appearing as the cover story of the USA Today Weekend edition, Jayson wrote about a recent study conducted by online dating sites JDate and Christian Mingle in which 1500 singles aged 21-50 shared their thoughts on how mobile phone technology and texting when it comes to matters of the heart.
The USA Today article makes a bold statement. Jayson reports that “Cellphones and texting have blown up the dating culture.”
With the growth of smartphones, popularity of unlimited texting and data plans, it’s no wonder that singles are relying on their mobile phones to set up a date, cancel a date, make dinner reservations, order theater tickets, and yes, unfortunately break up.
In my conversation with Jayson, she asked me how long I believed a person should wait to return a text message. In my expert opinion, I thought 1-4 hours is polite.
The survey showed a surprising amount of singles (25%) believed that a text from a potential date or romantic partner should be returned within one hour. One hour? Think about it. If you’re in a meeting, on a conference call, on an airplane, or your phone is charging, does that mean you’re not interested? My big concern is the growing anxiety associated with response time for text messages, which appears to be shrinking. Another 25% thought 1-3 hours would be appropriate, followed by 12% who believed 4-6 hours would be fine. Responding immediately came in fourth place at 10%.
Does this mean your significant should go into the digital doghouse if you don’t hear from him or her in 1-6 hours?
When I was asked about my thoughts on breaking up in a text message, I was completely against it. However, the survey found that 59% might break up via text and even 24% had no problem breaking up with someone they were exclusively involved with.
Tone doesn’t come through in a text, and that can lead to misunderstandings, especially when a comment gets misconstrued and “your text may not get returned,” suggests cyber-relations and netiquette expert Julie Spira of Los Angeles. She’s author of the 2009 book The Perils of Cyber-Dating, which includes a chapter on netiquette.
The risk of misinterpreted texts is especially high in new relationships.
“There’s so little you know at that point,” Spira says. “You make all these digital assumptions that it’s one-size-fits-all, and it’s not.”
Sure, many celebrities have done so, including Russell Brand who notified Katy Perry of their divorce in a text message, but is it right?
Would you break up with someone in a text message? Your comments are welcome.
Julie Spira is an online dating expert and author of The Perils of Cyber-Dating. She writes about the marriage of love and technology and coaches singles on the dating scene. Follow @JulieSpira on Twitter.