Lost in Translation

by Daphne Reese

Text messages are great for many things, but dating is not one of them.  For one thing, you lack seeing all the physical signals that you would normally be able to interpret during a face-to-face conversation.  Many miscommunications can occur as a result.  It’s really remarkable, when you think about it, that today entire relationships will sprout, bloom, and die via text message.

The ambiguity of text messaging leaves a lot open to interpretation.  This problem is compounded by the habit of people who are dating to tend to use vague language in order to spare someone’s feelings or to avoid coming on too strong.  Hence, you can end up having a completely baffling text exchange, like the one that follows.

Because I’ve been on a blogging hiatus for months, I haven’t yet written about this guy, Demetrios the Greek doctor.  The brief description is that he is amazingly brilliant and the sexiest man I’ve ever met in my life.  I’m crazy about him, so I’ve been running “The Rules” hard on him from the beginning and playing hard to get.  For a couple months, he chased me and asked me out on weekly dates, where we always had a great time, but for some reason I could never tell just how much he really liked me.  Communication between dates was non-existent.  Then a couple of overlapping vacations caused us to go six weeks without seeing each other.

After our last date (three weeks ago), Demetrios just stopped contacting me.  (Well, sort of.  He did “like” two photos of me on Facebook.)  But no calls, no texts.  I didn’t contact him either, as I was following The Rules.  Naturally, I assumed the worst and believed he simply didn’t want to date me anymore.  But I didn’t want him to just disappear without a word after dating me for three months.  (I hate when guys do that.  At least give us the courtesy of a cliche “let’s just be friends” text so we can accept it and move on, rather than leaving us with radio silence we just have to wait through and eventually come to the sad realization that you’re never going to call.)

In an effort to bring things to a head, I decided to break The Rules and do something I’d never done before.  I texted Demetrios to ask him to go out with me this weekend.  His response was neither yes nor no, but rather, the most infuriating thing he could possibly have written.

Demetrios: Nice idea. When do u think? I might know on friday if I can join

Initially, I took this to mean “Perhaps I will deign to hang out with you if my first-choice plans fall through.”  What a jerk!  I was about to text back something mean, when it occurred to me that his text was actually somewhat ambiguous, and he hadn’t answered the question that I really wanted to ask him.  So I texted back:

Daphne: I don’t know what that is supposed to mean, so I’ll rephrase the question.  Do you want to see me again?  Yes or no

A direct, yes or no question.  Finally I would have my answer.

Demetrios: That’s definitely a different question… yes I do, however I have started studying for exams. This means I have limited time… furthermore I think we want different things

Ah!  The dreaded “we want different things” excuse.  Cliched breakup line #24.  In past experience, I have found that this lame line is often accompanied by the ever-popular “I’m not ready for a relationship” excuse.  Thinking that this was Demetrios’s tactic, I responded defensively:

Daphne: What is it that you think I want?  I don’t want a serious relationship right now.  And I know you’re busy and

Mid-sentence, I accidentally hit send.  Crap.

Before I could finish typing the rest of my message, Demetrios texted back.

Demetrios: But I want a serious relationship…

Wow.  This stopped me cold, as it was the exact opposite of what I expected him to say.

Daphne: What do you mean?

Demetrios: I’m the relationship type of guy. I don’t like to just have fun. I like the whole “how was ur day” thing… you don’t want this

Demetrios: I didn’t want to have this discussion via text. Could we meet during the weekend for coffee?

My head was spinning.  What did he mean?  Baffled, I agreed to meet him for coffee this weekend and immediately enlisted my girlfriends for help analyzing his texts for clues as to his intentions.

As far as we can determine, there are two possible (and completely opposite!) meanings that could be hiding behind his cryptic text “But I want a serious relationship.”

1. Is he asking me to be his girlfriend?  If so, this is an odd way of going about it.


2. Is he trying to dump me?  In which case, he is using “I want a serious relationship” as an excuse.  As far as I know, he would be the first male in the history of the species to use this as a break-up line.  Granted, I perhaps set him up for it by declaring “I don’t want a serious relationship right now,” and Demetrios simply seized onto this as an opposition stance.

Neither option makes much sense, really.  I guess I’ll just have to wait and see what he says over coffee this weekend.


Update (12/27/11):

So, what happened?  It’s a long story, but here’s the quick version.  Demetrios and I continued to date for two months following his “But I want a serious relationship” text.  And it seemed like things were starting to get serious.  Until he abruptly dumped me over dinner ON MY BIRTHDAY.  (Yeah, he was a real jerk).  Anyway, I think the larger lesson here is: don’t pay attention to what a guy says, but rather how he acts.  If a guy really likes you, you’ll know it.  Love really shouldn’t be so difficult.

October 20, 2011. Uncategorized. 3 comments.