Recently a former coworker and I were laughing over drinks and comparing tales of dating life, me recalling the origin of some interesting injuries and her sharing anecdotes of the perils of online dating. Despite using the “respectable” apps, like Hinge and Coffee Meets Bagel, she still managed to land a dud every once in a while, like a recent someone, who spent exactly 4 days charming her on text, saying how much he couldn’t wait to meet her, and then after they met, pulling a total 180. “A 180? Like he stopped responding?” I asked, curiosity piqued. “Ugh, worse,” she sighed. “Unsolicited dick pic.”
Believe me or don’t (I don’t care), but to be perfectly honest, I’m not really a fan of sexting. Maybe it’s a lack of experience, because I’m not on any online dating sites and therefore haven’t received an unsolicited dick pic, but despite all the other ridiculous single stereotypes I have experienced, sexting just isn’t my thing. Look, obviously I can understand the appeal: it’s quick, and easy, and a good way to confirm that the person you’ve been creeping on OKCupid (is that still relevant?) actually matches his profile pic. But there’s no mystery, no intrigue, to sending someone a naked selfie; everything’s just out there, no effort. Couple that with a gripping paranoia that I wouldn’t have control over what happened to the photo once it was in someone else’s hands, and in my opinion that’s just too much anxiety for a blurry frame of half a boob, or a mirror shot where anything interesting is blocked by the flash. Again, I’m not speaking from single life experience here. I don’t have stories of sexting gone right or wrong, because I don’t really have any sexting stories period. But from where I’m standing, I don’t really get it.
There’s something to be said about the instant gratification of this day and age. You can beat your friend at trivia with a simple Google search on a phone, buy way too many clothes on Hautelook while on a 5 minute break from work (<– what? not me), and yes, share a shot of your goodies without leaving your couch. I love the immediacy of our culture to an extent, the wealth of knowledge and information you can access with a swipe on a glass screen, and how easy it is to stay connected to people, across the room, across the state or even across the ocean. In certain situations, the immediacy is thrilling; planning a last-minute date on the fly, ordering delivery anything from your couch when you’re too hung over to move, planning your next vacation with someone while a hundred miles apart. But in situations like sexting, it takes away from the thrill of the chase, the wild anticipation of not knowing something unless you work for it, not having something without putting in the effort.
I much prefer the slow burn of words on a phone, the lag time in between texts, like you’ve spent time on your response, the modern idea of waiting for a letter in the mail. The implicit understanding of what you really mean when you’re talking about working out, or asking questions about exactly how far I can bend in yoga. Agonizing over whether it’s too soon to respond, enjoying the idea that he might be checking, and rechecking, and rechecking his phone, the way you do after finally sending that message to him. A conversation that has nothing to do with anything, but it causes you to smile when you read, and reread, and reread; the strategic use of emojis make everything look silly and sexy all at once. Reading a long conversation and trying to imagine the voice on the other end, and then rereading it trying to paint a picture of where that person is and whether you’re still on his mind.
Granted it’s not “sexting” in the “traditional” sense of the word, as traditional as technology that’s barely two decades old can be. And all things considered, in most aspects of my life, “patience” is a foreign concept. Maybe it’s just a weird personality shift as I’m slowly approaching my birthday in a few weeks, getting accustomed to the idea that birthdays are now becoming synonymous with “actually getting old” (and to think I used to complain about 23). I’m sure someday I’ll have to revisit this post, revising with my own horrifying story or …. well let’s just say “or.” At this particular moment though, the slow burn is enough for me for now.