Texting is digital psychological warfare; it is a minefield that you have to learn to carefully navigate, and if you are not constantly crunching numbers to calculate appropriate call/response time, then you are setting yourself up for defeat. That is just the way it goes.
We live in a world where you’re expected to constantly be on your phone. It’s a socially acceptable obsession, essential to modern-day survival like air, water, and food. The smartphone is a necessary extension of self, another limb whose most powerful tool (texting) is also its best weapon. If your hands aren’t wrapped tightly around your phone, then chances are you are within an arm’s reach of your cellular device at any time. You are never “just seeing a text” or “thought I responded to this” two days later. Even fifteen minutes without response is a clear indication that you are ignoring the person texting you—unless, of course, you need that time to draft, revise, and possibly crowdsource a clever response. Not giving good text is romantic suicide, yet it’s a very important part of modern courtship, bound to end things before they begin.
A few weeks ago around 9:30 PM, my then long-distance text boyfriend sent me a text asking what I was doing. I was doing very important things such as Googling the term “mud masks” and cyber-stalking my ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend. I heard the ding and knew I had two options: 1) be normal, read the text, reply, engage in short flirty conversation; or 2) not respond immediately in the hopes of inciting insecure thoughts about my activities and whereabouts.
I thought strategically and chose the latter, waiting until 11 PM to respond, understanding that an hour-and-a-half response time makes it clear to the person texting that you are ignoring their communication attempts. As we all know, there is no better way to make a potential mate interested than to make yourself unavailable. In my ninety minutes of silence, I received three new messages expressing distress and potential emotional implosion presented under the flimsy guise of follow-up messages. Mission accomplished.
This, though was the beginning of the inevitable end. Less frequent sexting and naked selfies gave way to the eventual screeching halt. I unstrategically made one last dramatic communication attempt via a long, vulnerable text—a romantic fatal flaw. His response: nothing.
I came up with worst-case scenarios. I tried telling myself maybe he didn’t get the text. Maybe he had a nervous breakdown? Maybe he needs space to figure out his life? He could be in jail; he could be in Mexico without an international data plan, and his mom could have died. He could have died, although his Instagram indicated otherwise. Girlfriends assured me it was him, not me. After two days of lying to myself, I heard him loud and clear, without any words to cloud the reality that it was over. A simple text would have conveyed that he cared enough to compose and send a message, but no further communication was necessary. The unanswered text speaks louder than any combination of words, effectively severing ties as the final fuck you, the proverbial “it’s not me, it’s you.”
Somewhere in my subconscious mind, a part of me believes maybe one of my false scenarios will reveal itself for the sake of my wounded ego. But in the wake of my last-ditch effort, which lacked in both tact and strategy, it’s safe to say that he is now just another person I will have to unfollow on Instagram and whose contact information I will have to pretend to permanently block.
I stand defeated. Outplayed. Anxiously waiting all traces of my wily words to vanish into the fictitious graveyard of texting where digital romance goes to die.