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By Annie Daly January 12, 2014 | 11:00am
On the weekend before Thanksgiving, Elisa Caref, an environmental educator from the Upper West Side, met a cute guy at a bar on the Lower East Side. He told her he liked her glasses and asked for her number, and then they parted ways. The next day, he texted the 26-year-old, “How’s it going?” and the pair had a little back-and-forth before agreeing to meet up for a date after Thanksgiving.
But the communication didn’t stop there. Even though they’d already set up a date, the guy kept texting Elisa throughout the break with various “just checking in” messages, including a “Happy Thanksgiving :)” text. Eventually, he sent her some Snapchat selfies of his face, and asked her to return the gesture — all before they’d even gone out!
Elisa’s situation is increasingly common. These days, it’s hardly unusual for guys and girls to engage in epic pre-first-date texting sessions. In a July study titled “Mobile’s Impact on Dating and Relationships” commissioned by online dating sites JDate and Christian Mingle, more than 60 percent of single people said they communicate more frequently with potential dates because of their phones. But experts say that even though it may seem like you’re getting to know the person better before your date, it’s actually a false sense of intimacy — and you’re setting yourself up for disappointment.
“It’s a trend we’ve coined ‘premature escalation,’ ” explains Emily Morse, a sex and relationship expert and host of the “Sex With Emily” podcast on iTunes. “Since our whole world is so instant now, people can craft entire personas through their slew of texts . . . by the time you meet your partner for an actual date, you’ve built up this whole image and fantasy in your head of who you think they are, and then they turn out to be totally different.”
That’s what happened to Kenny Thapoung, an editorial assistant from Bed-Stuy. “I met a guy briefly at an event, and we started texting. He was witty, smart and more flirty than he was at the party. For instance, after I told him I’m a grammar nerd, he corrected my ‘your’ to ‘you’re,’ but then said he’d forgive me if I went out with him,” recalls the 22-year-old. “Yet, when we met for our first real date, he wasn’t anything like he was over text! He was such a dud.”
Another reason pre-date texting can backfire is that you’re loaded with too much back story. “That can make you overthink what you say and do on the date, instead of being your natural self,” explains Christine Hassler, a dating and relationship expert and author of “20- Something, 20-Everything. “It’s like you’re on your second date in terms of info, but your first date in terms of physical chemistry, which can make things awkward.”
“I started texting with this guy I met on Tinder, and he told me a couple days before our first date that he lost his job,” recalls Anna Davies, 31, a freelance writer from Park Slope. “When we were finally face to face, I kept thinking, ‘Oh, is he depressed since he lost his job? Hmm, maybe I shouldn’t talk about my career.’ ”
So what’s the solution? It’s all about keeping your pre-date “textversations” to a minimum. “Aim for three exchanges tops, and make them mostly about the logistics of the date itself,” explains Whitney Casey, a love expert for match.com. If your date starts sending you “How was your day” texts, it’s on you to cut him or her off — nicely. “The majority of people respond to those types of messages because they don’t get how they’re potentially harmful,” advises Marni Battista, a dating and relationship expert and founder of the dating coaching service datingwithdignity.com. “Just say, ‘I think it’s cool that you want to know me, but I’m not into conversational texting before we meet. I’m really looking forward to talking in person!’ ”