“I Miss You. U Wanna Meet Up?”: Breaking Up with Our Sexters

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Kristie Christie tells the story of the time she and her now husband, David, broke up with their sexters and flirt-texters in the name of creating space for real life intimacy.

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About a month into dating my now husband, I playfully asked David a vulnerable question, “So, are we ready to break up all the people we text with?” I said it with a playful wink, but I was nervous inside. It was sort of the modern way of asking, “are we official?”

We hadn’t talked about these people, but given that we were both outgoing flirtatious 30-somethings, we both knew they existed. Back before we were dating, while we were “just friends,” I’d seen names of girls flash on the screen and he’d turn his phone over the same way I would when one of my texting-guys would pop up on my screen. I knew there were some girls out there still hoping…still flirting and texting.

He looked at me and smiled a big huge grin. I knew he was a few steps ahead of me in the “ready to commit” dept. He was excited because he saw this question as I did, a sign that we’d be moving in that “Facebook-official, you and me forever, you’re going to meet my parents soon” direction.

“Oh you bet!” he laughed as he answered, “Absolutely. You too? How do we do this?”

“I don’t know, I guess the next time “they” text, we just explain that we’re not going to continue to be in communication because we’re in a real-deal relationship? No need send what would feel like a presumptuous random text out ending a little flirt-texting relationship, right? I mean, it might sound weird if we just did it out of the blue…”

“No, I think I’m just going to go ahead and send out a few texts right now.”

“Oh, okay then, me too…but maybe I’ll wait for a few of them to text me first.”

And we did just that. We told each other about each of them. We had a good laugh, we respected the past but also closed the door on it because, it was time.

◊♦◊

This exchange will be familiar if you’ve dated in the last 5 years, but maybe a bit foreign if you’ve not been part of this digital dating nightmare culture. These people we’d text with were people we’d met through Eharmony or Match, ex-boyfriends/girlfriends, random old high school crushes we’d reconnected with on Facebook or those people we met at some party or event thinking “we should go out sometime.” They were casual people that we probably knew wouldn’t end up becoming a serious thing, but until then, they’d been a way of filling in and having a little fun flirting and remembering that there were still some fish in the sea for us.

No one is going to argue that it feels good to get attention from several people at once. I’m not arguing for whether it’s healthy or not, but from teenagers, 20somethings, 30somethings and probably beyond… it’s become a normal dating shenanigan practice to text with 5-10+ people on a rotating, flirting, basis. On an average week it would start something like this in my phone (fake names of course):

I-had-a-crush-on-you-in-high-school-but-we-never-dated-Rick: “Hey beautiful, how are you this morning?”

Brad-who-I-dated-casually: “What are you up to? It’s been a while. I miss you.”

Match.com Paul: “Thought of you the other night.” (insert awkward picture in front of mirror that I want to delete right away because is so cheesy and desperate)

Sean Eharmony: “Want to get together this weekend? What’s your plan?”

Chris-who-never-would-never-ask-me-out-on-a-real-date: “Hey sweetie, how’s work today?”

Random-number-I’d-deleted 945-123-4567: “Hey, remember me? I know it’s been a while, but I’m single again! What are you up to?”

The attention of “the crowd” on my phone had become something I loved and had grown pretty attached to over the years. I’d give it up, then it’d creep back and I’d think, “eh, what’s the harm? I’m single, I’m flirting, lighten up.” There were pros and cons to the text-guys.

◊♦◊

I would have to mourn the end to my text-boyfriends because I had found myself with a real live boyfriend who I liked very much. I knew it was time to give this up. It felt scary to me…a good scary. Once the relationship you’re in moves to long-term commitment status, it’s time to forgo the flirt-texting and focus all your energy on the real deal. Texting is so removed and easy, real relationships are an entirely different ballgame…and they don’t need this intrusion and distraction.

David’s replies to his break-up texts with his text-gals were met with a mixture of:

“Congrats! Happy for you. Wish you well! Who is she?”

“Can we be friends? I swear I will keep it appropriate.” (“um, no thanks” said the wife.)

“F*&K you, David.”

Nice. Classy.

Otherwise, these text-people become like porn, a fantasy waiting to fill in when life is less than perfect with an intimate texting conversation.

My group of texting-men were more cordial farewells. Some of them never replied and went silent. Some wished me well. No one told me to F off, unless you count the silent non-responders.

And that was that. After that, we were no longer getting texts from single named people “Ryan” or “Kate” who just wanted to engage in a little mutual flirty-attention-giving. Did I miss it? Sometimes. It’s been a part of letting go of “single-me.” Honestly, it was like letting go of fast food in order to eat at a five star restaurant. Well worth it.

I know some people don’t give up their sexting people when they get into a committed relationship. I think that’s a huge mistake. Real commitment and intimacy only develops when you’re all in, both feet in the door. Otherwise, these text-people become like porn, a fantasy waiting to fill in when life is less than perfect with an intimate texting conversation.

It’s better to live in reality than “the land of make believe relationships” on your phone. Relationships take work and leaving your options open, even if only digitally, is a distraction away from the work and reward of intimacy. Intimacy takes trust, sacrifice and safety. Can you really provide that for your other half if your phone is constantly buzzing and you’re nervously hiding it from view? No way.

Is it time to delete some people from your phone? Time to tell some people that the flirty-fun is over? Why not create the space that your real life needs to grow and thrive. I think you’ll find it’ll be worth it, even if someone tells you to “F&%K off.”

Photo:Flickr/Anthony

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About Kristie Christie

Kristie Christie is a writer and speaker who communicates to audiences about living a life of freedom, authenticity and connection. She'd love to keep in touch with you: check out Kristie's blog www.kristievosper.com, like her on Facebook, and follow her on twitter: @kristievos.

Comments

  1. This was a good read. I went through a similar transition last year. It was very scary to realize I was elimination other options. But it was SO freeing. For the first time in my adult life, I’m in a relationship that doesn’t require EITHER of us to hide or lock our phones for fear of being found out. it was well worth it.

    • Kristie Christie says:

      Glad you liked it, Erica. That’s awesome, I totally agree. There is immense freedom and intimacy in being fully known and fully loved…and fully not hiding anything, especially the phone.

  2. This is actually pretty scary. My comments are directed to the general public not the author. How can anyone, anywhere, ever think that they can have an actual relationship with one person while there are other people they are sexting! It just isn’t part of the way I think so I don’t assume that other people are doing this but I guess I should. I really worry that our culture has degraded relationships so much that few people really understand the value of having someone in your life in a committed loving trusting relationship. How can you not want this and instead cut of your own intimacy with your partner by carrying on small level relationships with other people? We live in a very self serving culture that is getting to the point where we are forgetting that we are living in a self serving culture. It’s becoming the norm to a dangerous level.

    • Kristie Christie says:

      Oh Justin, I am RIGHT there with you. It IS scary how many people have no intention of taking their relationships off the computer or phone. I think it speaks to our cultural disconnection from one another caused by many things. I wrote some of my thoughts about technology and it’s impact here on my blog: http://kristievosper.com/technology-friend-foe/

      Nothing replaces human to human relationships, I agree. I think we have an epidemic of people who live in shallow, disconnected, digital worlds…and it’s just got to be so lonely for so many. It makes me sad.

      I got to a point in my dating relationships where I would just say “Oh, I actually don’t text. Just call me. I only want to text about practical “I’m running 5 minutes late” things.” As I admit in this article, I had let a few guys get away with texting me…but that wasn’t the healthy life I was trying to cultivate, one of real authentic relationships…probably my fault for letting that cultural norm creep back in. I was ASTONISHED how in the last several years of my dating life this “all-text” dating was something people were really seeking, with a real fear of meeting up in person. I think they like the persona they hide behind and don’t have the social skills to present themselves beyond their fears and broken ego. I have heard that some people even post “In a relationship” on Facebook referring to someone they are texting.

      When I met David he CALLED me. He set up REAL dates. Wow, I felt so cherished rather than added to a list of girls in his phone.

  3. I’m not buying it entirely. Yes, committed relationships take work, but this article assumes an ontological perspective that monogamy is the only reality. That’s not always congruent with the agreements that couples have made. Maybe my perspective is different as a gay male, but I think this mindset is limiting and potentially damaging to the primary relationship in the long term.

    • Thanks so much for taking the time to comment. I hear your feelings and thoughts, and I didn’t acknowledge this in the article, but I do understand that there are absolutely people who choose to have open relationships, and believe that is right for them. David and I aren’t those people. We are committed to a monogamous marriage and so I write from that perspective. Regardless of sexual preference, I am one who believes that the healthiest relationships are developed when we commit to one person over a lifetime. So, I respectfully disagree, and realize that my perspective and writing can not possibly be inclusive of every view point, because this is my belief and perspective. I wholeheartedly am a.o.k. that everyone isn’t going to be in agreement with me…and I’ll even be audacious enough to say I think we can all still be friends, too. :) Have a great weekend. Thanks for your thoughts. Feel free to comment back.

  4. Jonathan G says:

    Wow, this article opened my eyes to a whole different reality. This is real, people actually do this stuff? You actually have 5-10 people at a time who are at least interested enough in you to flirt-text? Astounding. I would not have suspected that this kind of stuff went on. How does that work? I mean, how does such an arrangement develop?

    • Oh Jonathan, congratulations. I’m so happy for you that you haven’t had to deal with this texting dating craziness. Ha! How does it develop? Hmmm great question.
      Many ways. Here are a few:
      1. Online dating starts on the Match.com or Eharmony (or many others…) platform. You can message the person through the site, but eventually, what most people do is “trade phone numbers.” Back about 5 years ago, this usually only meant “I’ll call you sometime in the next day or two.” Now, it means…I can text you all day and connect over our phones without having to take the brave step to call you.”
      2. You go on a date with someone you meet in real life. Afterwards they text and say, “had fun tonight” and then hours of texting ensue…maybe days. It will slow down for a while, you get busy, or they’re texting someone else, and then one night when their bored, the texting picks up again.
      3. You meet someone somewhere and they say, “give me your number…we should chat” UH-OH this means text. So, they text you at 11pm at might with the intensions of what used to be phone sex, but now is called “sexting” accompanied with photos that are rather “personal” selfies.

      So, online dating increases the volume of people you interact with usually, add in a guy you ran into at your 10 year HS reunion, a guy you met at the grocery store who asked you out, and a person you met at a work conference…and you have a little collection of people who text on a semi-regular basis. It’s a weird world. :)

      • Jonathan G says:

        Ah, that makes sense. Thanks for the explanation! I’ve been saved from the craziness of texting-dating by not meeting anybody who’s interested in dating me, for years now. If anything changes drastically someday, now I’ll be prepared for this potential situation. :)

  5. I can’t do it because I need to see people face to face and do things with them. But when I was doing online dating that is all I got, ugh!! no intention to ever meet in person, but just random flirting over text. I got bored, and stopped entertaining them. I don’t care if my phone doesn’t ring I can occupy myself with more productive things than to feed an imaginary relationship. People are afraid of real intimacy… sad.

    I haven’t date in a while and I feel so peaceful; I just want a real serious no lies, not games type of relationship and it will happen when it needs to happen.

  6. This is article made me really upset, not because of the author but Ive gone hrough the absolute opposite. What a douchebag of a guy I dated, keeping his old flames around…still talking to them after moving in with me!

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