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Do "real men" text? This author says no

Posted by Karyn Polewaczyk  November 25, 2013 10:45 AM

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If you're having girl problems—you have my and Jay Z's sympathies, but this blog post probably isn't for you.

However, if you've frequently found involved with men who text with abandon before scampering away into the sunset; you feel like you give more in your relationships than you get, or if you're looking for ways to help navigate the increasingly complex jungle of modern dating, then read on.


Meet Ruthie Dean, co-author of the book Real Men Don't Text: A New Approach to Dating. According to her (and her husband, Michael, the other co-author), many of our relationship mishaps stem from poor communication—in the form of text messages. Texts to say hi. Texts to ask each other out. Texts to flirt. Texts to breakup. Texts, Ruthie says, which skirt around the time and effort needed to forge genuine connections, and often result in confusion and heartbreak.

Sound familiar? You're not alone: nearly one third of us agree that it's easier (and less intimidating) to create dates using texts, and half of us use texting as a way to get to know someone.

Still, Ruthie and Michael say it doesn't have to be this way—and that women deserve love, or at least men who have the decency to pick up the phone and call. I spoke to Ruthie about the book (FYI: there are some religious undertones laced throughout, but if you're not interested, then skip past them, as I did), the differences between texting and email, and the benefits of eschewing Mr. Right Now in favor of Mr. Right.

What inspired you to write your book?

I wasn't at all planning on writing a relationship book. It was something we stumbled into; the subject matter [text-iquette] was so popular on my blog that one thing sort of lead to the next, and it just grew.

One of the overarching messages I received from this book is: we need to set more boundaries—or maybe just reestablish the boundaries that we’ve let dissolve. Is it about setting standards? Or is it about women who can’t seem to rid themselves of worthless guys?

I think it's both. So many women date placeholder guys—they [the women] don't like to be alone until someone better comes along. When you're dating Mr. Right Now, you're avoiding Mr. Right. You've got to set standards while simultaneously leaving those guys behind so that when the next guy comes along, you're truly available for him.

A lot of the testimonials come from younger people. Who’s your intended audience?

Generally speaking, it's single 20- and 30-something women, but I've heard from women in their 40's and 50's who are divorced and dating again—women who didn't use text messaging when they were first dating.

You say that texting is bad, but email is okay. I’ve been out with guys who are great wordsmiths, but not so great in person—and vice versa. What’s the difference?

Well, I think it's hard to say specifically; but the difference in email and texting is that you're not going to be emailing back and forth 30 times a day. Email takes more effort than a, "Hey, wanna get together sometime?" text.

What about people who are bad at email? Or bad at online dating?

That's hard to say. It's important for women not to just write guys off if they're not perfect or articulate. Try to get on the phone, get together in person. Give them a chance. There are obviously some red flags, but like anything else, you've got to take it on a case-by-case basis.

I agree that it’s not good to do certain things, like breakup or have heartfelt conversations via text or email, but it seems like making plans, even platonically, via text and email is de rigueur for most people (everyone is so busy these days). Wouldn’t you say the willingness to not make plans digitally is really just a sign of not getting with the times?

I think it's okay to make plans digitally, especially with friends. We just need to be wary of the guy who texts at 10 PM, asking if you want to meet up. I'm not anti-technology; I think it's great. It just doesn't always translate well into relationships. We [with the book] try to give women a handbook about different kinds of guys and why they're texting or calling. Making plans with friends over email is fine.

What about women who are guilty of texting?

Women are just as guilty as men. The book is addressed to women because it tend to be women who complain there are no good guys out there. But, it begs the question: how are you contributing to the problem? If you're sending things out late at night, you know what's going to happen. Instead of pointing fingers we ask how women are contributing. We [women] set the tone for the relationship and if we're willing to put up with mediocre then we're going to get the same in return.

I'm intrigued. How can someone your theory?

One easy way is that when a guy does text and say something like, hey, want to do something on Friday or whatever, you can reply, that's great. Why don't you call me in 10 minutes and we can talk about it? See if the guy will pick up the phone and call. A lot of the time he won't—and that's okay—because it begs the question of what else he won't do down the line. Another tip is that even if you've got nothing else going on, don't accept last-minute texts with offers to hang out. Dating placeholder guys sets a woman up for heartbreak and confusion.

What about if you find yourself alone, or in a dating slump?

The best way to meet people is by serving others, whether that's through community service or a friend. If you can get yourself in a situation when you're forced to be thankful for what you have, and not focus on what everyone else has. You get out of your head for a minute. I lived overseas in China and was single for most of those years, and I realized I have so much to be thankful for. It's how I developed my character.

Click here to buy Real Men Don't Text. Follow Ruthie on Twitter at @Ruthie_Dean.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About this blog

Karyn Polewaczyk lives and writes in Boston, and believes that heading out into that good night, like any adventure, begins with the first step. Let's Go Out is a conversation about dating and nightlife in our notoriously chilly city, with first-hand tips from the trenches. Karyn's writing, which focuses largely on women's lifestyle topics, has appeared in the Weekly Dig, Jezebel, xoJane, Northshore Magazine and, among others. Follow her on Twitter at @KarynPolewaczyk.

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