On Textual Encounters

“Make sure you’re ready,” “be safe,” and “talk to me first” are all refrains I heard ad nauseam from my mother when I was growing up. She was, of course, referring to engagement in any sexual encounter. However, after reading Aziz Ansari’s Modern Romance – an awesome, well-written book by the way – it dawned on me that textual encounters are never prefaced with the same fervent admonitions.

Of course, I understand why the ways in which we talk about and act out sex and text differ. However, I don’t intend to, nor do I have any desire to, get into that here. What I will say is that texting can leave one emotionally scarred and confused, just as any other encounter. Every night I find myself attempting to decode whether or not a faithful “Good night” text is just friendly and polite or if it means more.

I struggle the most when it comes to emoji hearts and almost always text a friend, frantically, upon receiving one. “Elizabeth, what does it mean when someone sends a heart emojii? Please hold for screenshot/context.” Having your message “left on read,” as millennials aptly call the practice, is dreadful as I’m sure many can attest. And even now, as I’m writing this piece and acknowledging the heartache and stress that textual encounters bring, I am waiting a solid 37 minutes (for good measure) before responding to a message I just received.

Our minds work themselves into tizzies as we try and explain why someone may have ignored our text. Let’s be honest, most of the excuses we’ve concocted are implausible: She didn’t fall asleep after reading my message, he didn’t open it and forget—I’m being ignored. And part of me can’t even be mad.

As much as I hate watching my phone lie beside me in torpor, I like the feeling of being wanted and inaccessible, like most everyone else I know.* So while I may understand the culture of ignoring messages, it doesn’t mean I wont retort with the infamous “Who dis?” the next time you text me.

Then again, I’ve been told that my pettiness is unprecedented. But I’ve also been on the receiving end of that text many a time. And nope, I don’t believe that you “got a new iPhone” for the simple fact that iCloud is a thing and said thing works quite well.

Yes, texting is a battlefield. Even when texting someone I genuinely like (romantically or otherwise), I find myself employing Drake’s line, “Text message from a centerfold. I ain’t reply, let her know I read it though.”

I have been socialized to take pride in my 232 unread texts, none of which come from group messages I might add. I once bragged, “Look, I responded to this text three months later.”

* Everyone I know may very well be a narcissistic, horrible person. Like wolves, we tend to travel in packs.


Kendall Evans

Contributing Writer – Features


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