By Rosie Munger for BounceBack.com
“Sending a text is just not that hard.” I would be a wealthy woman if I had a dollar for every time a female friend or I have said this in conversation, usually in a tone of frustration. To many of us – men and women – it seems pretty straight-forward: if you’re interested, then communicate with me! However, especially in between the first few dates, interpreting the timing and regularity of communications can be tricky.
When asked whether the frequency of contact was an indicator of interest, Rich was succinct: “The more they make contact the more they are interested. No argument.” Ellen agreed, also adding that directness is an indicator as well. “When Adam and I first met, he would said ‘I will give you a call tomorrow morning at 11.’ That was before our first date. No misreading anything there.” Adam had been instantly taken with Ellen and he wanted her to be sure about his intentions.
Now, please don’t fret if the person you’re dating is not like Adam and sometimes you wonder if your phone is broken.
Audrey does a good job not sweating the small stuff: “I do think it can be a sign of interest but it probably is more indicative of their communication style. Once you are ‘dating,’ some sort of daily communication seems good. After 1-4 dates, maybe every couple days or so.” Hilary second-guessed her husband when he said that whether he contacts you every day or twice per week is not a gauge of interest. Brad responded, “If he’s not contacting you every day, maybe he has stuff to do.”
Eva puts absolutely no weight into mere phone calls. “I have a guy who contacts me in one shape or form every day since the first date. Do I think he’s really interested in me? Sure…but unless he’s physically spending the time with me pretty regularly then text/email means very little to me.” Eva went on to say that “relationship men” have been trained to be in touch frequently, so they maintain contact as a matter of course.
Particularly if the person you’re dating has been consistent with his contact, regardless of frequency, it’s a waste of energy to stress too much about what it means. When asked about his thoughts on communication in early dating, Andy responded that he wasn’t sure about it, “mostly because I don’t feel like I’m that good at it.” Rose, who has been on a few dates with Andy, commented that “although he may not be the best electronic communicator (I’m learning to adjust), he makes up for it in person. I’m not dating his cell phone.” The quality of time spent with your new date is far more important than how often you hear from him. “We can waste a lot of time wondering what’s going on if we haven’t heard from someone in a couple days. Instead, it makes much more sense to focus our energy on our own lives. Unless someone has given you reason to doubt him, remain confident and secure that you’ll hear from him eventually.” On the other hand, she countered, if he’s not making a huge effort to spend time with you and his infrequent communication makes you insecure, keep your eyes and heart open!
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His relationship goal may also play a factor in his communication habits. Colin, a serial monogamist, will initiate humorous texts in between infrequent dates to let women know he’s thinking about them. Even if he is very interested in a woman, “Replies to her incoming emails/texts are concise, responsive and hopefully with a double entendre referencing either a past or future date. I try not to over-enthusiastically respond too fast, but I don’t let it linger long either.” Colin tends to let the lady set the communication pace and frequency because, like many, he doesn’t want to come off as overly eager. Laura’s boyfriend also admitted that he wanted to call her so much more often than he did when they first started dating, but he felt like he had to play it a bit cool.
While people do communicate differently, Rose does believe that the man’s relationship goal does play a part in it. “In my experience, a man who is looking for a significant relationship tends to communicate more than someone who may be focused on his career, as Andy is right now, for example.” She further explained that it seems to speed up the timeline of getting to know each other. “If he’s interested in pursuing a relationship with me, his communication style is somewhat irrelevant. He’ll be in touch because he wants to talk to me and to plan our next date, and he won’t want to run the risk that I’ll be unavailable or will lose interest.”
So, where does this leave us? Stop over-analyzing the in-between days and focus more on the quality of in-person interaction. Each person and each relationship is unique, and all that really matters in the early stage is that you enjoy spending time with him. “Contact is just contact – he’s still getting to know you,” Eva said. More than that, YOU are still getting to know him, so stop fretting over what it might mean that he hasn’t sent you a text response in a day – it is out of your control. Chances are his communication patterns won’t change, so take the opportunity to figure out whether you can be comfortable with them long term.
Aimee, who married her husband at 19 and hasn’t had to think about this issue, admitted that while there are upsides to that, “the excitement of waiting to be texted or called is part of what makes for all the fun, right? ”
Rosie Munger is an attorney and freelance writer who is admittedly over-communicative sometimes but is learning that more often isn’t always better.