Texting while heterosexual dating: Does texting reflect trends in shifting gender roles for straight millennials?

Texting sure seems to have become the modus operandi of communication for cisgender men when dating women. Gone are the days when both had clearly defined gender roles, and dating was a simpler, less confusing activity. It was easier for women because, basically, men had to do all the work. If they called and asked us out, we knew they liked us. They had no other option but calling or showing up wherever we were if they wanted to see us again. Frankly, that took balls. Those types of confidence-building exercises are no longer necessary in a society where communicating through technology has taken precedence over face-to-face interaction. Today, men have a plethora of ways of getting in touch or showing interest, and for better or worse, it seems as though texting has won their hearts over as a method of communication.

My best friend, Heather has recently concluded  that no man must be able to “handle her” because she prefers them to call and ask her out, and they prefer to text her and beat around the bush. Her findings have been supported by her latest experience when her suitor texted her for weeks, even after having personally known her for years. He ended up texting her back a response when she finally called him and left him a message (asking for him to call her back). This type of interaction was disappointing for Heather, a woman of strong character and presence, who merely wants a man whom she feels is her equal by measure of confidence.

“But why don’t we just call them first?,” one might ask. My answer is because the vast majority of straight males have yet to catch up to third, or even second wave feminist ways of thought. Unfortunately, men often still want to be the ones to make the first moves, even if they don’t want to actually call or show up at our doorsteps. There is some grey area in between acting interested and playing coy, which leaves many straight women confused as to how interested we should or should not act.
In courting, even in modern post-third wave feminist times, the brunt of the work still “should” fall on the man by American society’s standards. If not, some women, especially those who consider themselves to have strong personalities such as Heather, fear they may be labeled as overly enthusiastic, too interested, or at worst…”crazy.” So where does this leave us? Perpetually confused.

In addition, through media, men are typically still shown as the breadwinner, and the dominant force in the relationship. They still, for the most part, are projected to be the ones who should “wear the pants” so to speak. However, given the economic downturn over the last few years, that simply is no longer always a reality. Today women make up a larger part of the workforce, and hold more managerial and leadership roles than ever before. Texting habits may be reflecting that we are in the midst of changing gender roles, and that men can’t keep up. As the power dynamics shift within the workplace, it is interesting to reflect on how they do (or don’t) change within romantic relationships.

Women today are supposed to be viewed as equals to men, but this is hardly the case when it comes to forging relationships. Are we to wait patiently and dutifully for our knight in shining armor to come-a-courting, or do we actively pursue those that interest us? It looks like time will tell whether shifting gender roles catch on to the point where women will be able to partake in the latter more readily and without trepidation. Magic 8 ball says “Ask again later…”


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